The Electoral Commission of Uganda in another dilemma as government lacks funds for the upcoming Local Council elections
The fate of conducting elections for Local Council 1 and 2 leaders in Uganda remains unclear, as government has not yet released funds to the Electoral Management Body. The tenure for the current lower local council leadership expires on June 14, 2023.
The lower Local Councils play a critical role in the governance infrastructure of Uganda, as they are the first point of contact for handling issues of citizens at the grassroot level such as land transactions, local security, gathering intelligence information, as well help in the mobilization of citizens for government programmes.
Uganda currently has 71,216 villages (LC1) and 10,717(LC2) parishes, each with a nine-member committee appointed by their respective chairpersons. Five of those members are elected. The voting for the lower local council leaders is done through voters lining up behind the nominated candidates or their representative, or their portraits in accordance with section 111(2) of the Local Government Act CAP 243 (as amended).
SecretsKnown has learnt that the Electoral Management Body had in April 2023 submitted a request for Ugx 60.8 billion ($16,321,630.62) to conduct the elections for the lower local councils but the request yet remains unmet which should be a concern to Ugandans. This is because once the tenure of the lower local council leaders ends, all the actions they will be engaging in will be illegal which will in turn affect successful service delivery at the lower Local Governments.
The Uganda Electoral Commission had planned to conduct these elections in the 2023/2024 financial year but no appropriation was made in the budget. SecretsKnown has also learnt that the Electoral Management Body is prepared to conduct the elections once the funds are released to them by the responsible government ministry.
If no funds are allocated for the elections of the lower local councils, it will become the second time government will have failed to finance another election in less than 10 months. Such an incident also happened last year(August 2022) when the government left the Electoral Management Body with no option but to postpone the Women’s Council elections due to the failure of finding the required Ugx 20 billion ($ 5,368,957.44) for the process.
The continuous reluctance by government to allocate funds for election of leaders clearly reveals that democratic rights of citizens are not top priority of the government which should be a matter of concern to all Ugandans.
It’s important to note that administering elections is costly, and requires considerable resourcing. Therefore, if government is finding it very difficult to finance elections for all the administrative units, then it should consider a reduction in the number of the bloated elective positions in the various administrative units.