Members of Parliament put up a spirited fight which will see representation of women councilors at all sub counties across the country.
This followed a heated debate on the Local Governments (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks to among others Local Government’s Act to provide for one-third of the membership of each local government council to be reserved for women in accordance with article 180 of the Constitution and o remove the age requirements for a person to qualify for election as chairperson of a municipality, town, division or sub-county.
In a sitting of the House chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday, 29 September 2020, The Minister for Local Government, Hon. Raphael Magyezi said that there was no need of having women councilors represented at every sub-county.
“Timing is an issue as the electoral roadmap for the Electoral Commission is already underway. Political parties have already selected their representatives to these positions and the cost implication will automatically expand the council budgets and have a strain on the budget,” Magyezi said.
He added that the cabinet finds the one-third composition of women at the local council level is representative enough of the drive towards affirmative action in the political arena of the country.
Hon. Jacob Oboth (Indep., West Budama South) said the Bill seeks to harmonize the electoral laws and to have a woman representative at every sub-county.
“For the issue of the age, there are young people who want to be nominated tomorrow before the ongoing process of local government party nominations ends. We should support and pass the amendment,” Oboth added.
Mitooma District Woman MP, Hon Jovah Kamateeka expressed her displeasure with government’s reluctance to increase the membership of women representatives at local council level saying that the prevailing status-quo is overbearing.
“Women councilors continue to bare the burden of handling two sub-counties yet their male counterparts handle one sub-county. It is unfair for the government to claim that it is a heavy financial burden because these councilors do not get a salary from the government but, a small allowance,” she added.
Hon. David Abala (NRM, Ngora County) said that it is unfair for the government to expect women councilors to bare the burden of representing two sub-counties yet the government is always increasing the number of counties and constituencies which are more expensive.
“The Minister needs to remember that the President had not objected to the issue of having women representing every sub-county when this was initially passed,” Abala added.
Bwamba County MP, Richard Muhumuza said that it is unfair for the women councilors to represent more than one sub-county when their male counterparts are at each sub-county.
“When it comes to female councilors, you start raising issues of cost yet they don’t get a salary but just an allowance,” he said.
Kadaga said that any attempt to change what was previously decided on by Parliament is an attempt to smuggle content into a Bill.
“When the President returned this Bill for reconsideration, he did not highlight the issue of women representation at local council level. In addition, we have the powers to decide what we want,” she said adding that, “the women have been complaining but when I told them that the law had been amended, they were very excited. We cannot legislate otherwise.’
In processing this bill, the Minister moved for suspension of the rules of procedure to allow for its expeditious consideration.
This followed concerns by legislators that the time left for nominations was limited and the intending candidates would be shut out.