14 October 2018

Uganda: Controversy As Counsellors Vote to Split Kasese District

Tensions have flared among leaders in Kasese District after the council on Friday controversially passed a resolution to create three new administrative units in one of Uganda's remaining geographically biggest districts.

The LC5 chairman, Mr Geoffrey Sibendire Bigogo, has vowed not to endorse and forward the resolution to the Ministry of Local Government, arguing that Speaker Geoffrey Bwerere erroneously ruled that council has approved the creation of Bwera, Hima and Nyamugasani districts. However, the resolution said to have come out of confusion by the speaker has sparked a row between Mr Bigogo who has been opposed to the creation of new districts and Busongora South Member of Parliament Jackson Mbaju, who has been behind the move for a split.

"I am not going to forward that resolution as a head of the District Executive Committee (DEC) because it as been purportedly done without a vote on whether to split or not. The Speaker came with his own decision which he has finally imposed on council," Mr Bigogo told Sunday Monitor.

He said the vote used by the Speaker to determine the split was not in regard to the private member's motion tabled by Bwesumbu Sub-county representative Wilson Mbathulhawo on September 11.

However, Mr Bwerere has hit back at Mr Bigogo saying he has no option other than implementing lawful council resolutions because it is one of his roles to forward such resolutions.

"If the chairman refuses to implement a lawful resolution of council, then it is him to explain. He, two months ago, refused to sign the letter seeking the ministry to create Munga and Nyakabingo sub-counties and such shows the kind of leader the district has," Mr Bwerere said.

The Speaker told Sunday Monitor that before he subjected councillors to a secret ballot, he repeated the procedure and guidance four times, saying what was going to be done was to either determine the private member's motion or refer it to the DEC.

Mr Jackson Mbaju, the Busongora South MP, who has defied the decision of the Kasese Parliamentary Caucus by going ahead to mobilise for the district split, said the resolution will be sent to the ministry with or without the endorsement of Mr Bigogo.

"There is no law which strictly provides that the chairperson LC5 should send it (the resolution). It is the district that does. So, that is what we are going to do," Mr Mbaju said.

Returning from a one-month consultation exercise, the councillors were giving reports on the floor of council when the Bulembia Division representative, Mr Richard Bomera, moved a motion that the Speaker subjects the motion to a vote so as not to waste time.

However, the LC5 Vice Chairperson and Youth Male councillor, Mr Gideon Ntabose, on the contrary moved that the original motion be referred to the Executive for further scrutiny because "it had issues with wording".

It is at this point that the Speaker subjected councillors to a secret ballot to decide on the two issues-whether to make a resolution on the motion for the split or refer it to the Executive for further scrutiny before it is returned at a later date.

According to the results, 30 councillors supported the motion that a resolution be made on the private member's motion, 24 voted for it to be referred to DEC whereas four votes were invalid.

Mr Bigogo said, after this vote, the Speaker was supposed to subject the council to a final vote to determine the fate of the private member's motion since majority had voted against referring it to DEC.

Background

This is the second time in eight years the district council has resolved that three districts be carved out of Kasese. In November 2010, council that was predominately NRM overwhelming passed the resolution but the matter was challenged by MPs from Kasese led by Busongora North MP when it was presented before Parliament by the then Minister of Local Government, Mr Adolf Mwesigye in 2013.

In 2016, the current council with the majority being Forum for Democratic Change councillors, approved a motion to rescind the 2010 resolution on grounds that it was an unpopular decision taken then and would cause more divisions in the volatile district.

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