Uganda: Creation of More Counties Draws Mixed Responses

The government decision to create more counties ahead of the 2021 General Election has attracted mixed reactions, with a section of local leaders, saying it will increase the cost of public administration and stifle service delivery.

Last week, Parliament approved the creation of 47 new constituencies after clearance by Cabinet. This increases the number of constituencies from 296 to 354.

This means the 354 MPs will be directly elected and others will be voted thorough affirmative action, including woman MPs representing districts and other interest groups. Additionally, the seats of directly elected MPs increased by 82 from 445 to 527.

Mr Raphael Magyezi, the minister of Local Government, in an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday said the yardstick for creating more counties was based on factors such as geographical terrain, level of economic development and people's wishes.

Mr Magyezi said the move will improve service delivery.

However, Mr Steven Masike, a researcher and coordinator of Makerere University, Mbale branch, said government is likely to have a bloated budget that is skewed towards meeting MPs' salaries instead of service delivery.

He said the MPs will also be entitled to allowances, free healthcare, and retirement benefits, among other perks, which is a burden to the Treasury.

In case the next Parliament does not increase the salaries of its members, the 527 MPs would take Shs13.1b monthly, hence an additional Shs2b up from Shs11.b that the 10th Parliament spends.

In Mbale District, Bunghokho Central was carved out of Bunghokho South, which is represented by Mr Micheal Werikhe, the State Minister for Trade.

Mr John Walimbwa, a resident of Nabumali Town Council, said the creation of the constituency was politically motivated, arguing that it is too small to be divided.

The new constituency covers Busano, Bunghokho, Bumbobi, Nyondo, Busoba sub-counties and Nabumali Town Council.

The aspirants who are eyeing the new constituency include Mr Werikhe, Mr Andrew Mauso and Mr Richard Wanda, all from the NRM party, and Mr Eric Mukhwana, formerly deputy prime minister for culture, tourism and communications in Bamasaba cultural institution.

Mr Brian Mauso, a youth leader, welcomed the constituency, saying it will bring services closer.

In Manafwa District, residents say the creation of Butiru County, was overdue. The county was carved out of Bubulo West, currently represented by Ms Rose Mutonyi.

Ms Mutonyi has since declared her intentions to run against Ms Mary Goretti Kitutu, the minister of Energy, for the Manafwa Woman MP seat.

Long-awaited

"We have been waiting for this constituency for a long time and we are happy that it has finally come," Mr Bosco Muzungu, a resident of Butiru Town Council, said.

The candidates eyeing the new seat include the district NRM chairperson, Mr Charles Peke Walimbwa, and Mr Godfrey Matembo, a businessman.

In Bududa District, Bushigai County was created out of Manjiya constituency. Local leaders say that the former State Minister of Trade, Mr David Wakikona, requested President Museveni for the constituency.

"This constituency was created for the former minister because they knew he cannot win an election with Nambeshe in the race," Mr Paul Matsanga, resident, said.

Mr Nambeshe has since left the NRM party, and is now the coordinator of National Unity Platform party in Bugisu Sub-region.

The aspirants in the race for the new county include Mr Wilson Watira, the district chairperson, Mr Moses Wamoto, the Namisindwa Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Wakikona and Mr Steven Makwa Wabusani, all NRM candidates.

In Namisindwa, where Namisindwa County was created out of Bubulo East, residents preferred a hospital.

"We wanted a hospital but we were given a constituency," Mr Amos Bwayo, a resident of Namabya Sub-county, said.

However, Mr Emmy Bwayo, the LC3 chairperson, said the constituency has come at the right time.

"We had been marginalised for long but now we will govern ourselves," he said.

In Kween District, Mr Kisos Chemswat, the former Kween County MP and now aspirant for the new Soi constituency, said the county will ease monitoring of government programmes.

However, Mr Fred Soyekwo,a youth leader in Bukwo District, questioned the parameters that were used to create Too County out of Kongasis County.

"We were not ready for it. We got a district status in 2005 and I don't think we had done enough to attract another constituency even in terms of population," he said.

Mr Tom Chesol,the Bukwo RDC, however, said it is a blessing to have a constituency, arguing that it will enable equitable representation.

In Nakaseke, Mr Enoch Nyongole, a former district council speaker, said a new county will offer better leadership and service delivery.

"We believe that the decision to have a new constituency named Nakaseke Central carved out of Nakaseke North is the best option," he said.

Nakaseke Central county comprises the town councils of Butalangu, Kiwoko and Kikamulo, Kito and Wakyato sub-counties. Nakaseke North is now left with Ngoma,Kinyogoga sub-counties and Ngoma Town Council.

In Mubende District, Mr Williams Ndooli Museveni, the council speaker, said the creation of Buwekula South will improve service delivery.

"There was an urgent need for the creation of a new constituency to improve service delivery," he said.

Mr Ndooli said some sub-counties such as Kayebe and Kalonga lacked schools and hospitals, adding that leaders will be in better position to lobby for their construction.

Buwekula South comprises Kayebe, Kalonga and Kitenga sub-counties. It was carved out of Buwekula County.

There are jubilations in Tororo District following the creation of Budama Central constituency, which was carved out of Budama South.

West Budama East constituency was also carved out of Budama North. The counties have attracted a big number of aspirants. The contestants for West Budama East include Mr Franklin Owori, Dr Emmanuel Otaala, Mr Joseph Katandi and Mr Othieno Akika.

The candidates for West Budama Central include Mr Jacob Oboth Oboth (incumbent), Mr Oyita Geoffrey, Mr Moses Kirya, Ms Alice Opendi and Ms Monica Olweny.

Mr Geoffrey Owori, a resident, said the constituencies will reduce political competition.

"It was so hectic for one legislator to control a constituency that has more than 12 lower local government, and it would be worse for aspirants to cope with scientific campaigns," Mr Owori said.

Mr Abel Bizimana, the Kisoro District chairman, said the creation of Bukimbiri County was fulfilment of a presidential pledge made during the 2016 General Election.

The county was carved out of Bufumbira East and Bufumbira North constituencies.

Mr Fedilis Kanyamunyu, the NRM flag bearer for Rubuguri Town Council, said the creation of the county would bring services close to the people.

"This will also stop the marginalisation of Bakimbiri people," he said.

Aspirants

In Jinja City, Kagoma North, carved from Kagoma County Constituency, has attracted five aspirants, including Mr Alex Brandon Kintu and Mr John Odwori, all from NRM.

Others include Mr Isa Budhugo, Mr Aloysius Mugumira and Mr Daniel Baliddawa, all from Forum for Democratic Change party.

Mr Kintu said the new constituency was intended for quick and better service delivery.

"This constituency sits on 36 square kilometres and with a population of more than 180,000 people," he said.

In Busia District, residents also welcomed the decision to create Samia Bugwe Central.

Candidates that have shown interest incude Mr Denis Nyangweso, 42, who stood for the Samia Bugwe South MP seat in 2016 but lost to Mr Julius Maganda. Another candidate is Mr Richard Wanyama Hamala, 36.

In Namutumba District, six candidates are contesting for the newly created Busiki North county seat, which consists of Kiwanyi, Magada, Kagulu and Mazuba sub-counties.

These include former Busiki MP Isiko Wilson Mpongo, Mr Yona Kayogera Yona, Mr Abdallah Kasalawo Abdallah, Mr Godfrey Mukisa Godfrey, Mr Harbert Baligasima and Abdallah Wante Abdallah.

Compiled by Fred Wambede, Philip Wafula, David Awori, Denis Edema, Ronald Seebe, Micheal Woniala, Joseph Omollo, Robert Muhereza, Dan Wandera and Josephine Nnabbaale.

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