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Fort Portal City Councillors Protest Lack of Council Sittings

The Minister of Local Government, Raphael Magyezi says that they have submitted to parliament a supplementary budget for funds to meet the financial needs of the cities.
09 Oct 2020 16:26
Interim Mayor Rev Willy Kintu Muhanga says there are no council sessions because they lack guidelines.

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Councillors in Fort Portal Tourism City are protesting the lack of council sessions since the operationalization of the city. 

In April, Parliament approved the creation of 15 new cities and 10 of these became operational effective July 1. They include Fort Portal, Arua, Jinja, Mbarara, Masaka and Mbale.  

Since there was no specific law in place to guide their operations, the Minister of Local Government, Raphael Magyezi, on June 30 issued guidelines to be used in the meantime.

Notable among the guidelines was that the Mayors of the municipalities that were elevated to the city status were to become the Interim City mayors.  

They were also empowered to form fresh executive committees to work with until general elections next year. However, shortly after the issuance of guidelines, Masaka LC V Chairperson, Jude Mbabaali and other chairpersons of the districts petitioned court challenging the legality of the guidelines.  

In his petition to High court, Mbabali said the guidelines contravened the procedures set out in the Local Government Act. He also challenged the declaration of all mayors of the municipalities that were elevated to cities as the interim political heads of the new cities without elections to determine the winner as provided for under the Local Government Act.

However, State Attorney Hillary Ebila told the court that there was no basis for the application since it was filed under the repealed sections of the Local Government Act. He cited Sections 181 to 187 of the Act which had allegedly been violated by the guidelines yet they had been repealed and that section 12 which abolished the positions of the speaker and deputy speaker.  

Masaka High Court Judge Moses Kazibwe Kawumi dismissed the case, saying it had been overtaken by events and that the Electoral Commission which was the second respondent to the suit is in the process of organizing elections for all electives positions across the country including in the new cities.     

Joseph Ndamira Misirikale, who represents Nyabukara ward, says that the tender for street parking that had been awarded to Woodfix Technical Services had expired and wonders how the company is still operating without going through a fresh tendering process.  

He adds that as councillors, they have never heard from Mayor Muhanga and wonder if he is making the decisions to run the city alone since he has never constituted an executive committee. 

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Joseph Mashuhuko was formerly representing Karambi Sub County in Kabarole district council, says that as a new councillor in the city, he is unaware of any council business despite his constituents asking him for updates and information on developments in the city. 

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Herbert Mugisa, the former South Division LC III chairperson, says that even though the city was operationalized, the former divisions remained in existence and are supposed to be carrying out their duties regarding service delivery.  He, however, says that because their accounts were closed, they are struggling to collect garbage from the city due to lack of money to fuel the garbage trucks. 

Currently, there are numerous heaps of uncollected garbage on Fort Portal streets and in Markets especially Mpanga and Kabundaire.  But Mugisa says their division accounts were closed and at some point, they have used their own money as leaders to buy fuel for the trucks so that the uncollected waste does not lead to an outbreak of diseases. 

He wants the council to sit so that all their challenges are raised and solved for the betterment of the area. 

Muhanga says that although the case challenging the guidelines for the operationalization of the cities was dismissed, the Ministry of Local Government has never informed them. He adds that two of their former bank accounts were opened, they have insufficient funds to effectively run the day-to-day activities of the city. 

However, Magyezi says that they have submitted to parliament a supplementary budget for funds to meet the financial needs of the cities. 

“Let them be patient, their issues are being solved,” Magyezi said.