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Former Councillors Petition District Speaker to Retain Gov’t Smartphones

At the end of their term, the councillors passed a resolution to transfer the ownership of smartphones from Nakasongola district local government to individuals. However, Alex Felix Majeme, the District Chief Administrative Officer refused to implement the resolution and instead attached the councillors' allowances for the last council sitting to recover the cost of the phones.
File photo; Nakasongola CAO Alex Felix Majeme handing over a mace to District Speaker Sunday Rogers Bwanga after swearing in
Former Nakasongola district councillors have petitioned the district speaker to block the withdrawal of smartphones that were given to them during their term of office.

Nakasongola district procured 25 smartphones worth 10 million Shillings in October 2020 and handed them to councillors and the LCV Chairperson to aid them in research and communication during their term. They however signed a Memorandum of Understanding to forfeit the phones at the end of their term of office.

But at the end of their term, the councillors passed a resolution to transfer the ownership of smartphones from Nakasongola district local government to individuals. However, Alex Felix Majeme, the District Chief Administrative Officer refused to implement the resolution and instead attached the councillors' allowances for the last council sitting to recover the cost of the phones.

On Thursday, eight former district councillors submitted a petition to the district speaker Sunday Rogers Bwanga asking him to restrain the CAO from withdrawing the smartphones. The councillors asked the speaker to use his powers to order the CAO not to withdraw the phones and treat this as a donation to former councillors.

Charles Bogere, the former district councillor for Nakasongola town council said that the motion to retain the phones was legally passed by the district council and it will be irregular by the CAO to single-handedly go against it. Bogere described the CAO’s move as disrespect to the council which is a supreme body of the district.

Similarly, Mariam Nabutaka, another former district councillor said that the Memorandum of Understanding which they signed with the district to return the phones on expiry of the term was overruled by council resolution which they passed. Nabutaka says that most of the phones have since depreciated and will be unfair to pass them to the new councillors as the CAO suggests.

The Nakasongola district speaker Sunday Rogers Bwanga confirmed receipt of the petition and says that he has asked the clerk to council to provide him with a copy of the resolution before he takes action.

But Alex Felix Majeme the Nakasongola District Chief Administrative scoffed at the petitioners and said he is not bound to implement unlawful council resolutions. He added that he had already recovered the money from three councillors, and was in the process of recovering money from all the other councillors who lost seats but refused to return the phones. Only one councillor has returned the phone to the district.

“If you lost the seat, why do you hang on the government phones? This is a shameful and dishonourable act. I won't implement an unlawful resolution that allows councillors to retain government property” Majeme said

He added that as COVID-19 rates surge, the council may plan to hold council meetings via zoom and wonders how they will implement this if the former councillors retain the phones.

In March this year, Parliament ordered Members of Parliament to return the 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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