New cities challenged in court

Monday August 03 2020
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An overview of Mbale Town which was recently elevated to a city. PHOTO | FRED WAMBEDE

Elections in the newly created 10 cities, hang in balance after former Bufumbira East MP challenged the legislation process leading to their creation earlier this year as illegal.

Mr Eddie Kwizera, who is also the former special assistant to President Museveni, in his petition filed before the Constitutional Court on July 28, contends that in declaring 15 urban areas as cities, it changed the composition of Uganda without amending the Constitution.

He further argues that the Constitution only provided for one city, which is Kampala and that by Parliament merely passing a resolution to create new 15 cities without bringing a constitutional amendment Bill to amend the Constitution prior to the creation of the new cities, it renders the process illegal.

“I know that in declaring 15 urban areas as cities, Parliament changed the composition of Uganda without amending the Constitution. I later formed an opinion that the creation of districts was mixed up with creation of cities,” Mr Kwizera states in his affidavit before court.

“The above named additions require Parliament to pass a Bill by at least two thirds of Members of Parliament which Bill is ratified by two thirds of the districts. This, however, was never done.” he added.

Parliament on April 25, by resolution, created 15 more cities with 10 of them coming into operation on July 1.

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The first 10 cities that got operational are Jinja, Arua, Gulu, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Mbale, Masaka, Hoima, Lira and Soroti.

The other cities that will become operational in the subsequent financial years of 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively are Entebbe, Moroto, Nakasongola, Kabale and Wakiso.

Sould the court agree with Mr Kwizera that the 15 cities were illegally created, then it means that the EC would have wasted its efforts in organising 2021 General Election for directly elected MPs, female MPs representing the 10 operational cities, councillors and mayors as the same would be non-existent constituencies.

Through his lawyers of Victoria Advocates and Legal Consultants, Mr Kwizera wants court to declare that the resolution passed by Parliament on April 25, contravenes Article 5 (2) and 261 of the Constitution.

He also wants the Nakasero-based court to declare the said resolution as null and void.

Mr Kwizera also wants the court to invoke article 137 of the Constitution that could put aside any other business at the court and swiftly decide his petition.

According to him, this will help the EC know its position early enough on whether to continue organising the elections in the newly created 10 cities or abandon the same to avoid wasting taxpayers’ money in scenarios of court declaring the same elections null and void.

The forthcoming polls are slated for February 2021 though the actual date has not yet been fixed by the EC.

He also faults the Attorney General in his capacity as the chief government legal adviser, for not having advised Cabinet about the illegality in creating 15 new cities without amending the Constitution.

Mr Kwizera further reasons that he brought this petition because of his background and commitment to good governance and that he could not sit back and look on as illegalities take place.

“When I was at State House as a special assistant to the President, he advised us that when there is an error, we should raise it with the implementers and when they refuse, then we should go to the public,” says Mr Kwizera.

The filing of the petition comes at the time when the Supreme Court is yet to decide on a similar case regarding the constitutional legality of the election of six MPs into six newly created municipalities.

The Constitutional Court in December last year, ruled and ordered the six MPs out of Parliament on grounds that they were elected into non-existing constituents.
This petition too was filed by Mr Kwizera.

The justices of the Constitutional Court, in their unanimous decision last year, held that the elections in the aforementioned constituents/ municipalities, were conducted neither in general elections nor as a way of by-elections, which are the only recognised ways of electing MPs into Parliament.

The MPs whose fate in Parliament is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court are Mr Patrick Ochan (Apac, UPC party), Dr Elioda Tumwesigye (Sheema, NRM party), Mr Tarsis Rwaburindore (Ibanda, NRM party), Mr Hashim Sulaiman (Nebbi, NRM party), Mr Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri, Jeema party) and Mr Abraham Lokii (Kotido, NRM party).
awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com

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