Last month, President Yoweri Museveni returned the Bill to Parliament with a request that particular provisions be reconsidered before he assents to it.
The President is mandated under Article 91 (3) of the Constitution to return a Bill in writing to the Speaker of Parliament for reconsideration.
The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Thursday started
reconsidering the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2019 recently
returned by the President.
On Thursday, the West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth and chairperson of the committee met the Minister of
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ephraim Kamuntu and the Minister for Local
Government Raphael Magyezi.
Last month, President Yoweri Museveni returned the Bill to Parliament with a
request that particular provisions be reconsidered before he assents to it.
The President is mandated under Article 91 (3) of the Constitution to return a
Bill in writing to the Speaker of Parliament for reconsideration.
Some of the provisions that were returned as an amendment are Section
III of the Local Government Amendment Bill seeking to introduce qualifications
for any person, other than a Chairperson of a sub county, an academic
qualification of a minimum of a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE)
or its equivalent.
The President also rejected an amendment of Section 116 (1) seeking to
introduce qualifications for a district councillor being a minimum of Uganda
Certificate of Education (UCE) or its equivalent. According to the President,
the introduction of these academic qualifications is discriminatory.
Kamuntu defended the President’s position saying that the framers of the
Constitution intended wide participation and inclusiveness by the people, even
where qualifications are provided for.
"The Local Governments Act, Cap 234, currently has no
qualifications for the chairpersons of urban divisions and town councils as
well as district councillors. To introduce them under the proposed amendment
would be discriminatory and would disenfranchise the aspiring leaders and
voters," said Kamuntu.
He added that power belongs to the people and that in order to
allow equal participation and access to leadership positions, it is necessary
that the academic positions are removed in the proposed amendments.
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Kamuntu further explained that leaders play different roles at different
levels depending on their qualifications citing the District Chairpersons and
Deputies who must have a minimum of UACE and Chief Administrative Officers who
must have a minimum of a university degree and not less than ten years working
"This is because the above persons are responsible for guiding
local governments, supervising activities at the district and monitoring the
implementation of council decisions among other duties. It was therefore envisaged
that the LC V Chairperson and the deputy as well as the CAO would help in
guiding the lower local leaders who may be possessing lower academic or no
academic qualifications at all," he added.
Kamuntu says that the introduction of minimum academic qualifications
for these categories of people would not only be discriminatory but also
disenfranchise many aspirants for leadership positions.
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Magyezi, also expressed reservations
on the qualifications for councillors and sub county Chairpersons agreeing with
Kamuntu that it will disenfranchise the voters by denying them the right to
elect leaders of their choice.
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Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa who presented a motion on the floor
of parliament introducing the qualification amendments maintains that there is
a need for qualifications but conceded to reduce the qualification for Sub
County Chairperson to a minimum of UCE qualification.
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Veronica Eragu Bichetero, the Kaberamaido County MP said that the
Committee should stand its ground and maintain the qualifications set out
saying that there are people able to meet the qualifications.
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But Alex Byarugaba, the Isingiro South MP supports the President’s
position saying that the amendments did not come from consultations initially
made by the Committee.
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Mitooma Woman MP Jovah Kamateeka and Busiki County MP Paul Akamba
said that requiring qualifications does not in any way discriminate against
anyone. He also said that the committee should retain the qualifications since
there is no research that voters cannot vote for educated people.