Uganda: Jinja Officials Fight for Leadership of New City

A row is brewing among Jinja District and municipal leaders over the leadership of the new city that takes effect on July 1.

Jinja is among the seven municipalities that were elevated to city status effective July 1.

But the district and municipal leaders are all laying claim to leadership of the new city, which has created animosity.

The district chairperson, Mr Titus Kisambira, in an interview at the weekend, said the municipal council is misinterpreting the Local Government Act on new cities.

"Misinterpreting the law with selfish interests is uncalled for. The lead in the formation of cities has never been the lower local government. It was the district council chaired by the Speaker, Mr Michael Musana, which passed a resolution turning Jinja into a city," he said.

"The Local Government Act Chapter 234 clearly states that a city should be equivalent to a district. The issue of the interim leadership, if it is to take shape today, the district takes the lead because it is the sub-county councillors who make the city council," Mr Kisambira added.

Mr Meddy Mbetyo, the councillor for Jinja Central Division, said Section 4 of the Local Government Act states that a city will be equivalent to a district and a city council shall exercise all the functions and powers conferred upon a district council within its area of jurisdiction.

"When you attain city status, it means you have created another district. Our friends at the municipality are just speculating. Section 180 of the Local Government Act talks about the composition of an interim council for newly created local governments," he said.

Mr Mbetyo noted that they will not follow the municipality proposals but use the law.

However, during the passing of the Shs36b district budget for the Financial Year 2020/2021 last week, the Jinja Municipality speaker, Mr Morrison Moses Bizitu, said Section 180 of the Local Government Act states that in case there is no existing leadership, the district can oversee the operations.

"For the case of Jinja, the district cannot oversee the municipality because it has been in existence for very many years. That law does not apply for the district chairperson to come and oversee us because we have elected leaders. The option he has is to oversee the new municipality (Buwenge)," he said.

Mr Bizitu added that the roles of a district and city are completely different.

"The city has street lights, roads, garbage collection, markets and dead bodies to deal with; while the district has never interfaced with these roles and responsibilities. To bring a district chairperson who is not used to these roles of the city will need an induction at the expense of taxpayers' money," he revealed.

Mr Bizitu said the Ministry of Local Government recently sought an opinion from them about who will constitute the executive of the interim city leadership.

"What we are insisting is that the city is the current municipality. We are going to bring the district councillors to come and perform the roles of the city with us and create an environment for the chairperson of the division and their councillors. The current law sends the chairperson and the councillors of the division home," he said.

Ms Robina Kazahura, a municipality councillor, said when Kampala city became an authority, Wakiso District remained independent.

"If a child is still studying and passes exams, they don't promote another student. Our proposal was tabled before Cabinet then Parliament passed it," she said.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Ben Kamumanya, was not immediately available for comment by press time.

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