Finally, local government minister Adolf Mwesige tabled the Regional Governments Bill 2009 in Parliament on Tuesday. The Bill is to operationalise Article 178 of the Constitution, which states that â€œtwo or more districts shall be free to cooperate in ar
Finally, local government minister Adolf Mwesige tabled the Regional Governments Bill 2009 in Parliament on Tuesday. The Bill is to operationalise Article 178 of the Constitution, which states that â€œtwo or more districts shall be free to cooperate in areas of culture and development.â€
Where a traditional or cultural leader exists in the region, that leader shall be the titular head of the regional government. In other words, he will be a symbolic head who cannot make any decisions for the region.
Critics, however, point out a number of issues which must be addressed by the Government. They argue that although there is no problem as far legality of the Bill is concerned since it is just operationalising Article 178 of the Constitution, there is a big problem of creating regional governments in some places and not in others.
Abdu Katuntu, an opposition MP and a lawyer, is of the view that the Government should have come up with a uniform formula on regional governments. â€œWe should be talking about uniform legislation that covers the entire country,â€ says Katuntu.
Katuntu further argues that creating another layer of government means that it is going to increase the costs of public administration.
On the provision making traditional /cultural leaders titular heads of the regional governments, he is of the view that this provision is basically â€œto calm the nerves of Baganda so that they do not clamour for federo. He wonders as to what will happen in Busoga, which is currently facing succession problems.
Bugandaâ€™s Attorney General Apollo Makubuya says Mengo is preparing to present its position on the Bill. He says they are disappointed that the Government went up to this stage without giving them chance to negotiate as they had requested.
Mengo wants a federal status (federo) with regional prime minister elected by the Lukkiko (regional Parliament composed of the Kabakaâ€™s appointees) and not by the general population as proposed in the Bill. Mengo also wants more control of land and taxes. The Mengo establishment also doesnâ€™t agree that the President should take over a regional Government where there is a failure to recognise regional diversity. They also oppose the demarcation of Mengo municipality and Kampala without consultations with them.
â€œWe will form opinions and present them to Lukiiko and the Lukiiko will make resolution on the matter,â€ said Makubuya.
Beti Kamya (FDC) points out that the Odoki Commission established that 65% of the people wanted federalism while 10 years later the Ssempebwa report stated 68%.
â€œIn regional tier you do not share resources. It is up to the government to work out modalities on providing a grant. We do not want a grant, but a share of our resources,â€ says Kamya.â€œWe shall not accept it,â€ she concludes.
Critics further say that the law will cause confusion in the country, where already the decentralisation system is in place to bring services nearer to the people. They also oppose pegging culture to the administration of the regional government. â€œWhy do you create another government with political, legislative, administrative, executive and cultural functions?â€ opposition MP, Christopher Kibazanga (FDC) asked.
Reagan Okumu (FDC) supports federalism based on democratic and non-sectarian arrangement. He does not agree with making traditional leaders heads of political units. He says that in Acholi there is no overall leader since the paramount chief is elected to serve for a period of time.
The Bill provides for establishment of committees or organs within the regional parliament. The standing committee on cultural matters shall have exclusive jurisdiction on the â€œcultural mattersâ€ of the region, where â€œcultural mattersâ€ include the choice and installation of a traditional leader, the choice, appointment and succession to clan and sub-clan leadership, traditional lands, sites, shrines, clan lands, and cultural practices which are in conformity with the constitution.
Each regional government shall be required to have a regional chief executive officer appointed by the Public Service Commission. The executive officer shall be the head of the public service administration accounting officer.
Alice Alaso (FDC) contends that before the law is passed other local governments must have thorough consultations on the Bill. â€œIt is a very important law. If you hurry it, you are going to mess up the district local governments,â€ she warns.
While presenting the Bill, [adding ministerâ€™s justification for the Bill]
While opposition MPs oppose the Bill, Movement MPs agree with the minister.
Dr. Sam Lyomoki believes that for regional blocks that have certain interests, the regional tier arrangement can be good.
Like it did with the Land Bill, the NRM Government is capable of using its majority in Parliament to pass the Bill amid protests from Mengo and opposition MPs.
However, former presidential candidate Dr. Abed Bwanika cautions Government against passing a law that will be vehemently opposed by some communities. â€œThey are free to enact the law but we shall mobilise the people to reject it,â€ he warns.
The district chairman for Sembabule, Herman Sentongo remains tight lipped about the matter saying that the Bill is before Parliament, which is the competent body to discuss it.
Haj Abdu Nadduli, former Luwero district chairman, is of the view that the regions should be defined according to the demarcations that existed at the time of colonialism. These include Buganda, Busoga, Budama, Bugisu, Teso, Karamoja, Lango, Acholi, West Nile, Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole and Kigezi.
See the Bill in Sunday Vision tomrrow
Regional Governments Bill tabled