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‘Broke’ Gov’t Moves To Delay Start Of Five New Cities

Raphael Magyezi, Minister of Local Government

Government has revealed the option to halt the planned implementation of the new five cities due to lack of funds to operationalize them.

Raphael Magyezi, the Minister of Local made the remarks while appearing before Parliament’s Public Service and Local Government where he had appeared to defend the 2024/25 ministerial policy statement for the Ministry of Local Government where he called on the Committee to take a position on whether to implement the looming functionalization of the new cities or halt them until the current new cities are fully operationalized.

He said, “The five cities were already approved, but they aren’t yet operational and from experience of the MPs, especially MPs who are representing the cities, what is your guidance as a committee? Should we proceed and say, despite the challenges that we are meeting in the 10 cities, let us go ahead and operationalize the decision of Parliament? Or, is it the considered opinion or the view of the Committee that we halt and first fully implement the 10 cities which then means, I will then need to inform Cabinet that it isn’t advisable in the next term to talk about another five cities?”

The cities that are meant to kick off include; Entebbe, Wakiso, Nakasongola, Kabale and Moroto

However, Ojara Mapenduzi, Chairperson Parliament’s Public Service and Local Government Committee said that it isn’t within the powers of the Committee to change Parliament’s resolution that approved the creation of 15 cities in in three phases and already, 10 cities became operational while 5 cities aren’t yet operational.

“I don’t think this Committee will contradict Parliament because this Committee is part of Parliament and so, the decision has to be implemented as Parliament decided.  I don’t think for us to say we halt them, the decision was taken and it isn’t within our mandate to reverse that decision, so the Ministry needs to implement the decision of Parliament,” said Mapenduzi.

He also reminded the Committee that there was a decision taken some time back that barred the creation of new administrative units in the middle of an electoral term because doing so would require holding of elections saying, “So you can only create them when the term is about to expire so that you have the elections held together if we are fair, unless we are saying we want these cities to kick off in 2031 because if we are saying they shouldn’t then that means that after 2026, because the requirement is that you can only create when you have the next elections.”

Minister Magyezi however said the Committee to differentiate between creation of new administrative units from operationalisng those that have been created and the cities up for discussion are already created but the challenge the Ministry is facing is to either we wait until everything is okay before the others come on board.

“Or we say, whatever challenges we are meeting, let us move. There is a financial implication and I hear some voices somewhere who will quickly say, there is no money. But also, there is a political element of some of these things. I would propose that you come up with a position of the Committee to Parliament, which will guide us as Cabinet. We may look at other things, I can be the Minister in charge of Local Government and then I am the one to cause a position against the Parliamentary Resolution because I have to implement it despite the challenges. If we are going to wait until Gulu, Arua, Soroti are 100% funded, then you will have to answer a question about Kabale and Moroto, what about Entebbe and Wakiso?” noted Magyezi.

Patrick Isingoma (Hoima East Division) was against the operationalization of new cities yet the recently created cities are struggling saying, “Judging by what the Minister is saying, it seems to me like there are two alternatives, we can go ahead and roll out the remaining cities, but seems there could be possibilities of delaying the process until when we are in a better position to roll out. Me I am of the view that there is already too much in terms of the 10 cities, which needs to be done, a lot is yet to be done and therefore, if you are adding on another burden of the five, I don’t know.”

Martin Muzaale (Buzaaya County) said that the Committee is one arm of Parliament and any recommendations made by the Committee will have to go to Parliament so there is no rush because the challenge isn’t just with the Cities but Town Councils that were created and staff are being paid yet these town Councils remain unfunctional.

“What is at stake, we are talking of cities, but we also have town councils which aren’t operational. It is a big thing and that is what I ask that what is the plan that the Ministry of Local Government have on these Town Councils that were created. We are paying salaries, we are paying money to these people and they aren’t delivering anything, so we need to sit down and agree and push our recommendations to Parliament,” said Muzaale.

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