The Wednesday ceremony had been scheduled by Mubarak Kirunda.
PIC: Armed police officers after Jinja central division offices.(Credit: Jackie Namboga)
JINJA - Efforts by the central division LC3 chairperson in Jinja municipality to preside over the swearing in of the newly elected LC1 chairpersons hit a snag after police foiled the ceremony.
The Wednesday ceremony had been scheduled by Mubarak Kirunda at the division headquarters.
However, armed police officers, led by the officer in charge of the Jinja central police station, Pius Asiimwe swung in and halted it.
On August 7, Kirunda had communicated to all the LC1 and LC11 chairpersons; inviting them for the swearing in on August 8.
"To all elected local council I and II in Jinja central division, I am writing to first of all congratulate you for having won the last election in your respective villages and parishes," reads the headline and introduction.
According to the invitation, the function was to take place at the council chambers starting at 10:00am.
Kirunda had instructed his principal assistant town clerk to perform the technical aspects and ensure compliance of the law.
The letter was copied to the Jinja resident district commissioner, LC5 chairperson, mayor, town clerk, the Jinja chief administrative officer and all his councilors among others.
However, the Jinja town clerk, Francis Byabagambi also wrote a parallel letter over the same scheduling the ceremony for August 20.
Byabagambi's letter also dated August 7, indicated that the swearing in would be carried out on August 20 in intervals.
He indicated that in Mpumudde/Kimaka/Nalufenya, Walukuba/Masese and Jinja central divisions, the swearing in sessions would be conducted at 9:00am, 11:00am and 2:00pm respectively.
Consequently, Asiimwe said they were acting on Byabagambi's letter who insisted that the swearing in was slated for August 20.
By 9:00 am on Wednesday, majority of the LCs occupied their seats in the council chambers when police besieged the entire facility before Kirunda emerged from his office.
This caused commotion at the premises as supporters of the various LCs stormed Kirunda's office demanding him to get out for the session to commence.
Shortly after, Kirunda explained that the function had been adjourned.
This increased more chaos as irate supporters locked Kirunda inside his offices saying they would only open for him after assuring them that the swearing would go on.
However, when the supporters learnt of the police's ploy to arrest Kirunda, they sneaked him out.
At this point, police locked the main gate and denied entry of the chaotic supporters.
It was only the civil servants who were allowed access to their offices but the supporters battled with police until it opened way for the general public.
Attempts by the Jinja municipality speaker, Moses Bizitu to explain to Asiimwe that the Local Government Act 169 empowered Kirunda to handle the swearing didn't yield results.
Kirunda (left) handing over the stamps to the village chairperson at the Jinja central division offices on Wednesday.(Credit: Jackie Namboga)
Bizitu said the town clerk was not a politician and therefore, he errored to usurp this role of witnessing the handover of files as stipulated in the Local Government Act.
However, the chairpersons continued to mount pressure on Kirunda saying they wouldn't leave the premises unless he found a lasting solution to ensure that they started serving their respective villages.
"Our residents are rendering us incompetent, they want to secure loans from financial institutions and passports but we can't give them backing letters because the stamps were returned back to the divisions," Birimengo Robert, of Oboja road village said.
Paul Kisira, of Rippon Nile said residents needed transfer letters from one village to another but it had become impossible.
"We keep giving them empty promises that we shall be sworn in tomorrow before we get the instruments of power but it had become a song," Kisira said.
Also, he explained that their predecessors were still disguising as the legitimate leaders to issue such letters saying this was a threat.
Consequently, Kirunda decided to handover the stamps and files to the elected chairpersons sending their supporters into cheers.
He explained that he didn't despise the town clerk but felt it important for the LCs to serve the residents as they waited for the swearing in ceremony set for August 20, 2018.
He added that the courts of law greatly depend on LC1 letters for the people who stand as sureties for one to be granted bail.
Being an urban authority, Kirunda said crime rates were high and as a result, the demand for LC1 letters in courts of law were also high, which showed the relevance of handing over the stamps as they waited for the swearing in.
"I have not committed any crime but we want to ensure service delivery instead of our people yarning, let them start serving as they wait to be sworn in," Kirunda said.