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Ministry of Local Gov't Advised to Change Dates for Swearing-in of Leaders

According to the letter dated May 11th 2021 by Paul Okirig on behalf of Solicitor General Francis Atoke, if the swearing-in takes place more than seven days effective today it will be in contravention of section 169 of the Local Governments Act.l
The Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi and the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Ben Kumumanya. File Photo.
The Solicitor General has advised the Ministry of Local Government to adjust the dates for the swearing-in of newly elected local government leaders. 

According to the letter dated May 11th 2021 by Paul Okirig on behalf of Solicitor General Francis Atoke, if the swearing-in takes place more than seven days effective today it will be in contravention of section 169 of the Local Governments Act.

According to the Local Government Act, an incoming executive committee shall, before taking office, ensure that there is a formal handing over from the outgoing executive committee within one week from the date of the expiry of the term of office of the outgoing executive committee."

Last week, the Permanent Secretary of Local Government Ministry Ben Kumumanya wrote ordering all Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks to arrange for swearing-in activities between 13th and 28th May 2021 to enable a smooth transition between the outgoing and the new Local Government council. He argued that the term of office of the current local council leaders across the country expires today May 12th 2021, which may delay swearing-in by even more than two weeks in some districts.

But Busia District Chairperson Elect Stephen Wasike Mugeni petitioned the office of the Solicitor General on May 5th 2021 asking for the legal opinion and interpretation of the law about handing over of office and coming in of new local government leaders.

According to Wasike’s letter, the taking over of office and formal handing over of office from the outgoing executive committee to the incoming executive committee particularly for Busia was fixed for May 25th 2021 which is more than a week after the expiry of the term of the previous executive committee. He said it was in contravention of Section 169 of the Local Governments Act and asked for the Solicitor General’s interpretation and advice. 

But in response to the petition, the Solicitor General says that for a formal handover to occur from the outgoing executive committee for the incoming executive committee, the members of the incoming executive committee must have been appointed from among members of the council under section 18 of the Act.  

"This means that the members of the incoming executive committee cannot lawfully be appointed unless the incoming council, from whose membership they are appointed, is in existence and is operating”, reads the letter in part. 

 It adds that " In our opinion, therefore the swearing-in of the incoming members of the council, the first order of the business of the council such as the swearing-in of the Speaker, the appointment of the members of the executive committee and the taking over of office and formal handing over from the outgoing executive committee to the incoming executive committee must happen within one week after the expiry of the term of the outgoing executive committee members."

The Solicitor General adds that from the information that was provided in the Chairperson Elect's letter, the term of the outgoing executive committee of Busia District expires on May 12th 2021 and the law states that the incoming executive committee must be done within one week (7 days) after 12th May 2021 and that is to say by May 19th 2021.

  "Our opinion is that the date proposed by the Chief Administrative Officer contravenes section 169 of cap 243. It is apparent that the guidance of Chief Administrative Officer as to the dates for the formal handing over from the outgoing executive committee to the incoming executive committee is based on advice given by the ministry of local government”, it reads.

Adding, “We undertake to inform the Ministry of Local Government to review the advice taking into consideration.