Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Electoral Commission-EC is seeking a budgetary provision of 54.5 billion shillings to conduct elections for Local Council I and II and Women Councils and Committees across the country.
Justice Simon Byabakama, the EC chairperson tabled the request on Wednesday before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee while presenting the electoral body’s budget estimates for the next financial year 2022/2023.
According to Byabakama, the total cost of the elections is 90.67 Billion Shillings but only 36.15 billion has been provided in the Budget Framework Paper, leaving a shortfall of 54.52 billion.
He said that they plan to conduct the Local Council I and II elections before August 2023 and one of the activities to be conducted include the compilation of village voters’ register, ascertaining the number of villages in the country, and others.
Byabakama added that in order for the commission to conduct the polls, there should be early planning. He said that the elections must be conducted by July 2023 latest.
Section 170 of the Local Governments Act provides that the Chairpersons Local Councils and Administrative Councils shall be elected every five years.
The current local council leaders were elected in August 2018 and their term of office expires in August 2023. Before 2018, Uganda had taken a period of 16 years without electing Local Council leaders.
Byabakama said that it is important to hold the elections before the expiry of the current term so that the remaining period is used for a smooth handover to the newly elected leaders. He appealed to the committee for a sufficient budgetary provision for the elections in the coming financial year.
He added that the elections will be held by lining up method unless parliament amends the laws.
Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP asked the Commission to present the exact dates they plan to hold the elections.
Santa Alum, the Oyam Woman MP asked the Electoral Commission to clearly state how much money was to be spent on Local Council elections and Women Councils.
Byabakama said that failure to hold the elections would create a vacuum and the current leadership will be in office illegally. He also promised to furnish the committee with the actual dates of the scheduled election.
Meanwhile, Electoral Commission also appealed for a budget provision of 45 billion shillings to transfer to political parties.
“In line with Section 14A of the Political Parties and Organizations Act, 2005, Government has been providing 10 billion every year towards the operations of Political Parties and Organizations with representation in Parliament. At the end of December 2021, Parliament approved a supplementary budget of 35 billion bringing the total to 45 billion,” said EC Secretary, Leonard Mulekwa.
However, Mulekwa told MPs that this money is not provided in the budget for the financial year 2022/2023.
Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP asked EC whether the money would be distributed equally to the political parties given that the funds have previously been distributed depending on the numerical strength of parties in parliament.
Byakabama said that EC is not going to discriminate against any political party.
The Electoral Commission also seeks another 7.25 billion to operationalize offices in ten new cities and Terego district. The cities include Jinja, Mbarara, Gulu, Arua, Masaka, Fort Portal, Mbale, Soroti, Hoima and Lira.
EC says that the cities are at the level of a district for purposes of elections and Section 20 (1) of the Electoral Commission Act requires that there shall be as many electoral districts as there are administrative districts. Byabakama said that the cost of establishing an office is 659.6 million Shillings, translating into 7.25 billion for the 11 electoral districts.