As Parliament awaits the government’s explanation on expired Local Council 1 and 2 mandates, the Ministry of Finance officials disclosed that there are currently no funds available to finance elections for new officials.
Electoral Commission (EC) chairperson, Simon Byabakama, had earlier engaged with the Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi, who indicated that the issues would be addressed during the first quarter of the financial year.
However, in a later interview with Daily Monitor, another senior official at the ministry clarified that funds can only be allocated if they are budgeted for. Unfortunately, the required Shs60 billion for the LC1 and 2 polls was not included in the Budget.
Under normal circumstances, urgent matters that are not budgeted for would call for supplementary, contingency, or virement options.
But State Minister for Finance in-charge of General Duties, Henry Musasizi, asserted that the LC1 and 2 elections do not qualify for these options, as they were not unforeseen emergencies.
He emphasized that without a source of funding, a supplementary budget cannot be justified.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja had previously informed Parliament that a high-level team was working on guidelines to allow the current officeholders to remain in their positions. However, legal experts have criticized this stance, stating that it lacks a legal basis.
More than 81,000 officials’ terms expired on July 10 due to the EC’s inability to conduct fresh polls owing to financial constraints. Additionally, the election of women councils has been delayed since August 2022 due to a lack of Shs20 billion.
The situation has created a legal dilemma, with experts warning that any actions taken by the officeholders after their expiry date would be deemed illegal.
During a plenary sitting, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr. Nobert Mao, acknowledged that the government has limited options in this matter and emphasized the need for a plan to address the country’s challenges.
EC spokesperson, Paul Bukenya, stated that if funds were made available, holding the elections would take between 60 to 90 days, based on the timeline of the 2018 elections. However, until a funding solution is found, the future of the Local Councils remains uncertain.