The LC 1 elections will not be happening as earlier stated because government has not yet released funds to oversee them.
The government had announced that the elections for Local Council I and II would be held by January 2017 although the Electoral Commission has expressed reservations on its preparedness
However, the EC spokesperson Mr Jotham Taremwa said although a figure of Shs 37 billion had been suggested, they have held several meetings with Parliament and the relevant ministries over the same matter but failed to agree a common position.
“Government wants this money revised down wards which requires several amendments in the law governing these elections and in the event that the amendments have not been, funds have not been sought and there is no programme for the elections at EC, then we need to be advised well,” Mr Taremw had said.
However he added: “If this is resolved and funds availed to us, we shall conduct the elections because we are always ready for this task.”
Recently, Parliament passed the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2014 providing for lining up behind candidates during elections of chairpersons for village (LC1) and parish (LC2) levels.
The voting method will be a departure from what was provided for in the Local Government Act of universal adult suffrage through secret ballot.
The Bill provided that, “Election of village or cell council and parish or ward council chairperson shall be by the electorate lining behind the candidates nominated for the office, their representatives, portraits or symbols.”
Local Government Minister, Hon. Adolf Mwesige (NRM, Bunyangabu) said that despite efforts made to conduct elections at village and parish or ward levels since 2002, the huge cost amounting to Shs 505b has made it impracticable for the elections to be held.
He appealed to legislators to consider the reality that the cost is too high for the country to afford.
“Government wants to exempt the forthcoming LC1 and LC2 elections from the requirement that they are held by secret ballot,” said Hon. Mwesige, adding that “I propose the long, transparent, democratic, time tested method of lining up behind candidates, their representatives, portraits and symbols of candidates.”
Parliament rejected a proposal by its Committee on Public Service and Local Government to maintain voting by secret ballot for village and parish chairpersons arguing that lining up behind candidates “brings along with it intimidation, fear, intrigue, disenfranchisement of leaders and consequently denying many people their right to vote.”
The Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2014 intended to amend the Local Government Act to provide for the procedure of conducting elections for administrative unit councils and committees; and to harmonise the provisions relating to public finance with the reforms made in the Public Finance Management Act.
The Local Government Act, which mandates the Electoral Commission to organise, conduct and supervise elections of local councils, provides that elections at local government and administrative unit level shall be by secret ballot using one ballot box for all candidates.