EC may fail to conduct general election due to lack of funds

Electoral Commission; Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama (R) and Secretary Sam Rwakoojo (L) during a press conference

The Electoral Commission (EC) has said t they do not have funds to conduct elections in the newly created districts, sub-counties and constituencies.

“The commission is constrained and will not be in position to commence electoral activities in the districts at the same time with the rest of the country,” Sam Rwakoojo, the EC secretary said.

He said though the Constitution and Parliamentary Elections Act require that elections for legislators be organised within 60 days after creation of a new district, and the Local Governments Act requires that elections be conducted within six months, they do not have the required funds. He made the revelation while presenting the EC budget framework paper for the financial year 2019/2020 to the parliamentary committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

The affected districts include Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kassanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong and Kikuube that became effective on July 1, last year and the proposed seven districts of Obongi, Lusot, Karenga, Kitagwenda, MadiOkollo, Rwampara and Kazo that are expected to start operating this year. The other affected districts include the four (Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro, Rubanda) that were created in 2016 and the six (Namisindwa, Pakwach, Butebo, Rukiga, Kyotera and Bunyangabu) that were created in 2017.

He said they have also failed to operationalise the districts in terms of staffing, office space, motor vehicles, motorcycles and office running expenses due to lack of funds. Rwakoojo noted that for them to conduct elections in the six districts that were created last year, they need sh3.59b. He said the annual wage bill and non-wage component for the 23 districts is sh3.46b and sh3.2b respectively, giving a total recurrent budget of sh6.96b.

The commission is also required to provide a motor vehicle and motorcycle to every district both estimated at sh0.2b per district amounting to sh4.8b for 23 districts. In total, he said they need sh11.7b for all the activities that need to be done to operationalise the districts. Jacob Oboth, the committee chairperson wondered why the Government is continuously creating new districts and then fails to provide funding for them.

He said when a motion was moved in Parliament to create the districts, the Government guaranteed that it has the money to fund them. It is painful that now you are before us, asking for funding. You are not the ones who created them. We went to the floor and government guaranteed during the proceedings that money would be provided and the finance minister did that,” he said.

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Lukwago Joseph grew up in a newspaper family, and rumor has it that instead of playing the guitar in his infancy, his parents put a reporter’s notebook and a pen next to him shortly after he turned born eight years. Before becoming editor of UGANDANZ, Lukwago was a parliament news editor for WBS TV. He joined UGANDANZ in July 2018, A few months after the company launched. Lukwago also spent five years as a freelance reporter, where he covered reporting for the highest bidder, intelligence, foreign policy, and Ugandan police. Lukwago graduated from Makerere University in 2008 with a B.A. in Journalism and worked on his college newspaper.