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CAO rejects councillors’ resolution to retain gov’t smartphones

Some of the district councillors who passed resolution to retain the phones (FILE PHOTO)

Nakasongola, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | 

Nakasongola District Chief Administrative Officer has rejected a resolution by the outgoing councillors to retain smartphones procured by the district to ease communication and research during their term of office.

The district procured 25 smartphones worth 10 million Shillings in October 2020, and handed them to the LCV chairperson and district councillors. The recipients then signed a Memorandum of Understanding to maintain the smartphones and hand them over upon completion of the term. 

But as they ended their tour of duty, the Councillors unanimously passed a resolution to transfer the ownership of the same smartphones from Nakasongola district local government to themselves, arguing that they remain a key reference point, who will be consulted often on local issues and report the same to the relevant authorities using the same smartphones. 

However, Alex Felix Majeme the Nakasongola District Chief Administrative says the decision was unlawful and instead ordered the Councillors to return the smartphones not later than Friday, May 21, 202. Majeme told URN in an interview today that the smartphones were bought to help councillors receive invitations, minutes and other relevant information while transacting council business.

He added that if a councillor lost the seat, it’s unlawful and illogical to stay with the phone yet he or she has no role to play in the council. About 12 out of 25 district councillors lost the elections held early this year and the newly elected councillors are expected to swear in tomorrow to kick start their new term of office. Majeme said the district council has increased in number from 25 to 33 councillors and it will be costly to buy phones for them again.

“Today I have written to the Councillors who lost seats ordering them to return the smartphones not later than Friday this week and if they refuse, I won’t pay their council allowances for the last council sitting,” Majeme said.

He added that the Public Standing Orders, the Local Government Act and Constitution among other laws are clear that once you leave public office, you are supposed to hand over government property.

Fredrick Lwanga Balaam, the outgoing district speaker said that it was unfair for the CAO to run against Councillors over smartphones which are worth only 400,000 Shillings yet Members of Parliament take cars worth millions of Shillings and never return them. Lwanga said that the CAO  needs to seek a high court order to overturn council resolutions.

Samuel Mwesezeki Butagasa, the District Councillor for Nakitoma says that he personally moved the motion in the presence of the CAO who never advised otherwise, and he is now surprised to learn that he wants to recall the phones.

Bernard Kamoga, the outgoing District Councillor for Wabinyonyi told URN that he will return the phone because the resolution by his colleagues was unlawful and promotes self-enrichment which shouldn’t be allowed.

In March, Parliament ordered Members of Parliament to return iPad’s that were issued to them in 2016 or else they pay between 550,000- 700,000 Shillings depending on the type of gadget. The Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige said that the iPads were the property of the government and must be returned before the end of their term in May.



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