President Museveni has approved the creation of 11 new municipalities ostensibly to bring services closer to the people ahead of the 2016 general election.
The President’s move comes two days after Parliament approved the creation of 43 new counties.
Communicating the President’s decision to Finance minister, Local Government minister Adolf Mwesige informed his colleague (Mr Matia Kasaija) that the creation of the new municipalities was intended to facilitate planning the expansion, harmonising the development and providing effective administration and service delivery.
“The creation of municipalities makes economic sense in that it will attract investments and spur organised urban development leading to an increase in the number of residential, commercial and industrial buildings which will generate increasingly more local revenue….,” Mr Mwesige’s letter reads.
The minister in his July 21, letter was requesting a Certificate of Financial Implications for the creation of 11 municipalities. He said that the certificate arose out of the wage bill differentials between the existing Town Council Staff wage provisions and Municipal Council Structure wage requirements, election of MPs in the new municipalities and payment of attendant expenses.
Some of the new municipalities the President approved are Kisoro, Kitgum, Koboko, Kumi, Nansana, Kamuli, Ibanda, Kira, Makindye Ssabagabo, Njeru and Mubende.
The minister said, in a letter copied to President Museveni and other ministers that [if approved by Parliament], the costs on the new municipalities will be accordingly recognised effective July 2015. The cost for the creation of the 11 new
municipalities is Shs9.1 billion annually. Although Ministry of Finance cleared the Certificate of Financial Implication according to sources, the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, on July 27 wrote to acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government demanding a comprehensive study to arrive at the actual estimate of the budget implications for the creation of each municipality and their effect on the resources available for service delivery in the whole country.
Daily Monitor understands that some Cabinet ministers led by Mr Alex Onzima on Wednesday tried to block the creation of new municipalities during a Cabinet meeting chaired by deputy Prime Minister Henry Kajura but were branded anti-development by his colleagues. Sources told Daily Monitor that Mr Onzima had reportedly objected to the creation of Koboko Municipality, citing boundary issues.
Although Mr Onzima did not pick up calls, the MPs who talked to Daily Monitor yesterday accused the junior minister for Local Government, who crossed from Opposition to join the NRM, of “sabotage”.
They have accused Mr Onzima of sabotaging President Museveni’s support in critical areas where the NRM leader garnered 100 per cent of the votes in 2011 elections.
“Anybody saying Kisoro cannot be a municipality is trying to sabotage President Museveni and such a person is an enemy of development,” said Mr Eddie Kwizera (Bufumbira East).
Mr Arthur Larok, the Country Director Action Aid-Uganda, described the move as outrageous.
He said, already at current rate, the one-month remuneration for a single MP can pay about 10 primary school teachers for two years.
With a deeply unequal and jobless economic growth trajectory, he said “this immoral decision will simply deepen the already bad service delivery crisis. ActionAid will work with other Civil Society Organisations to campaign against this silly proposal.”
The Minister is expected to table the motion seeking a resolution of Parliament to create the new municipalities next week.
The State Minister for Planning, Mr David Bahati, told Daily Monitor yesterday that many developments are taking place in the proposed areas which need proper and organised physical development planning and control. “Municipalities are key to development and planning,” Mr Bahati said.
Reason for the new municipalities
A municipality is usually an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government or jurisdiction.
Currently there are 22 municipalities, 174 town councils and 204 town boards.
The proposed municipalities are Kisoro, Kitgum, Koboko, Kumi, Nansana, Kamuli, Ibanda, Kira, Makindye Ssabagabo, Njeru and Mubende.
Each of these will be represented by a Member of Parliament. If Parliament approves the new Municipalities, the size of the 10th Parliament will swell to 440 MPs up from 386 members in 9th Parliament.
Explaining why the President approved the municipalities, Mr Mwesige in his letter to Ministry of Finance, cited “increased demands from the general public to provide urban infrastructure services as tarmac roads, improved waste management and street lighting.”