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
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for the application since it was filed under the repealed sections of the Local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been violated by the guidelines yet they had been repealed and that section 12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.
//Cue in: “Politically, the mayor…
Cue out… who is collecting.”//
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.
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