4th January 2017: The Electoral Commission has expressed reservations on its preparedness for conducting LC1 elections. It lacks enough money.
The EC had requested for Shs17 billion to conduct the local council one elections effectively but the ministry of finance says it can only manage to allocate Shs10 billion for this exercise.
There has not been LC1 elections since the last one conducted in 2001. These were elected when Uganda was governed by the Movement system.
- In 2006, after the country had returned to multiparty democracy, one Maj Rubamira Ruranga challenged the legality of the LC1 chairmen elected in 2001 and the constitutional court declared them illegal and ordered government to organize fresh LC1 elections but this is yet to be done.
- Uganda has 7,431 parishes and 57,842 villages in 1,403 sub-counties.
- The LC2 chairperson is elected by LC1 chairpersons from themselves. LC2 chairperson is the political head of the parish, which is a group of LC villages.
- The electoral commission when it was led by Badru Kiggundu said it needed Shs57 billion shillings to conduct LC1 elections.
One LC1 chairman had this to say: “I have no knowledge of court declaring us illegal. I don’t even know when the election will take place. For, me I have been working all along. May be I will stop when I get official communication.”
Godfrey Galiwango, LC1 chairman, Kamwokya II Market area, says holding elections for LC1 is welcome news as this will restore people’s confidence in the local councils. “For years we have been operating without fully constituted local council committees because some members have migrated or died. Holding the election for these local councils will be helpful in strengthening governance at village level.”
Galiwango says LCs play a pivotal role in communities as they act as the bridge between ordinary citizens and the authorities like police. He said LCs settle disagreements in communities and give recommendations to those who want to secure bank loans and students who seek government scholarships in Universities.
Method of voting LCs
During the election of LC officials the voters will cast their votes by lining up behind their prefered candidates as opposed to the secret ballot system.
The government preferred the procedure of lining up behind candidates to reduce on the high costs of the secret ballot system.
- Uganda has not conducted elections for LCI (village) and LCII (parish) for the last 15 years
- the last one having been held in 2001 before the country shifted from the one-party Movement system to the multiparty system of governance.
- Uganda has 7431 parishes and 57, 842 villages in 1403 sub-counties.
Voting by lining up behind the candidates for Local Council 1 and 2 was adopted in 2014 after Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed it during the debating and the passing of the Local Government Amendment Bill 2014.
However, some MPs on the committee for Local Government oppose government plans to conduct Local Council elections by lining up behind candidates. Their argument is that it’s backward, a danger to democracy and a possible cause of communal and domestic violence
Role of local council leadership
- LCs (I and II) have not legally constituted since 2001 yet these councils play a crucial role in society.
- It is the local council leaders to resolve conflicts within villages before the police is approached.
- LC1 leaders have to sign a recommendation for someone looking to open a bank account, sign a recommendation for anyone who wants to join the army or police, anyone who wants to get a passport or national Identity card, etc.
- During land purchase in rural areas, the LC1 chairperson has to sign a land sale agreement.
- Local Council courts (LCII) are the first courts of land dispute resolution.
Although Article 181(4) of the Constitution says all local government councils shall be elected every five years, there has been a leadership vacuum due to the absence of effective LCs.
Some political analysts said this is fueling lawlessness in the villages because in the absence of active Local Councils, the people have been dis-empowered yet the state is too distant to have an effective presence in every village.