NEW CITIES’ DELAY: MINISTER BLAMES PARLIAMENT
Junior Local Government Minister Jennifer Namuyangu has told mayors Parliament was responsible for the delayed operationalization of at least 15 municipalities to city status. Addressing a meeting of district chairpersons and mayors of municipal councils gathered at Hotel Africana on Friday, Namuyangu, who represented his senior Raphael Magyezi, reminded the local leaders that voting on the creation of new cities had been postponed due to lack of quorum in Parliament.
“It is not a simple issue. It has been on the order paper but we have failed to get the required quorum,” Namuyangu told local government leaders after some mayors from the municipalities lined up for elevation complained. She then pleaded with them to give government more time to mobilize MPs to pass the creation of the new administrative units.
“Give us more time to mobilize support so that when the motion comes up, we will have positive results.” The minister further reminded the local leaders that seven of the 15 new cities would be functional by July 2020 while the rest would become operational over the following three years until 2023.
She dismissed reports that the operationalization of the cities had been delayed due to lack of funds. “The money for the cities had been put in the budget but was used for other things after the delay. It’s not true that there was no money.”
In December 2019, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah deferred voting on the proposed cities after the House failed to meet the required number of 231 MPs of the over 420 representatives. MPs’ absenteeism has remained a challenge in the ninth Parliament, and is expected to worsen this year as legislators spend more time in their constituencies wooing the electorate to vote them back to the House in the 2021 parliamentary elections.
Some of the municipalities Parliament will be voting on if the House garners the required quorum are Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal and Mbale. Others are Masaka, Hoima, Entebbe, Lira, Soroti, and Wakiso.