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No money for LC elections

Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi

The prospect of holding local council one and two elections soon has been dimmed after the ministry of finance announced there are no funds this year.

Parliament recently asked the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs to set a date for the LC-I and LC-II polls. However, the ministry of finance, planning and economic development said it has no money for the polls.

In an August 8 letter, Keith Muhakanizi, the secretary to the treasury, told the electoral commission that their Shs 33.1bn budget for the elections couldn’t be funded this financial year.

“I wish to reiterate that the budget for 2016/2017 is constrained and we are not in position to provide additional resources required. You are advised to rationalize this expenditure within the resources appropriated under your vote’s budget,” Muhakanizi wrote.

On September 23, the public service and local government committee was forced to postpone a meeting with the electoral commission over the polls after officials from the ministries of finance and local government failed to turn up.

EC deputy chairman Joseph Biribonwa told MPs that the commission’s request for money for the elections has been rejected. The shadow minister for local government, Betty Nambooze, wondered why government had not consulted with the NRM party, which held its LC-I and II elections last year.

The committee chairman, Raphael Magyezi directed the commission to furnish parliament with the current village voter registers, the actual costs of the elections and how the money will be spent. “We need the reports to be able to lobby parliament to push government to release funds,” Magyezi said.

Last year, parliament passed the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2014 providing for voters to line up behind candidates during elections of chairpersons for village (LC-I) and parish (LC-II) levels. This was aimed at reducing the cost of conducting the elections through the secret ballot.

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