Debate on new cities flops again

Friday December 6 2019

 Parliament during plenary chaired by De

Parliament during plenary chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah yesterday. PHOTO BY DAVID LUBOWA 

By Moses Kyeyune

Parliament has once again deferred debate on the creation of new cities.

The Deputy Speaker, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, first suspended the House sitting on Thursday for 15 minutes over lack of quorum before returning to call off the debate.

On Tuesday, a similar motion hit a snag after Mr Tom Butime, the minister for Local Government, could not furnish Parliament with clear boundary demarcations for every city and respective divisions.

Parliament is composed of 461 members, 17 of whom are ex-officio members with no voting right.
For the House to proceed on the matter, it required 296 members (2/3). This implies that if a motion receives support of 223 (simple majority) it passes.

However, when the motion came for debate and voting on the creation of the cities yesterday, only 140 lawmakers were in the House. “The activity we were going to engage in was to take decisions, which are dictated upon by the Constitution that it should be a majority of all members of Parliament,” said Mr Oulanyah.

“In the circumstances, we will not be able to take a decision on this matter…we defer this matter and any other matter that requires this kind of vote,” he added.

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The government intends to create 15 cities of which Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Mbale and Masaka become operation come July 2020. The rest will be operationalised between 2021 and 2023.

Whereas the government has premised the ambitious creation of cities on the need to extend services to the people, a number of questions await Mr Butime.

For instance, Mr Medard Lubega Sseggona (DP, Busiro East) laid before Parliament a resolution from Wakiso District, proposing the elevation of the entire district into a city status. Instead, the government’s proposal is to have two separate cities, Wakiso and Entebbe.
A city is an equivalent of a district. But Mr Sseggona argues that Entebbe alone lacks the minimum population requirement of 500,000 people to operate as a district.

According to the 2014 National Census, Entebbe has only 70,000 people.

mkyeyune@ug.nationmedia.com

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