NEWS

Local govt boss Mutabazi kicked out of legal committee over ‘irrelevant’ remarks

Lwengo district chairman George Mutabazi (centre) appears with other ULGA officials before MPs on Thursday. Photo by Vincent Kasozi.

KAMPALA–The Uganda local government association (ULGA) was dismissed from the legal committee Thursday.

MPs on the committee noted that the submission made by the representatives of the association was irrelevant and outside the scope of the age limit bill.

The association’s team was led by the chairperson George Mutabazi.

Mutabazi in his submission noted that the association had no position on the bill since it was not moved under Article 261 which requires ratification by district councils.

He told MPs the association chose to be guided by the law and leave the business of the amendment within its rightful premise – the Parliament of Uganda.

He went ahead to highlight areas in the constitution that the association feels require urgent attention especially Chapter 11 of the constitution but he was cut short by MPs who noted that his entire document was irrelevant to the business before the committee.

The deputy chairperson of the committee Robinah Rwakoojo told Mutabazi that the committee was not seeking approval from local governments but merely looking to capture their views on the age limit bill.

“I don’t know what words to use, you seem to have missed the point we appreciate that Article 261 talks about amendments requiring approval by district councils, but we are not seeking your approval under article 261.” Rwakoojo noted.

The Kaberamaido woman MP Veronica Bichetero noted that the association cannot purport to have no position on the Magyezi bill when one of the proposals to amend Article 183(2)b on the ages of district chairperson candidates directly affects them.

“They cannot come here and tell us article 261 precludes them when actually they are affected in any even we had invited them here to give their views on the bill and not to find another article in the constitution and then run away from giving their views on the bill,” she complained.

Kalaki county MP Ongalo Obote asked the association what their view was on the district councils that are pronouncing themselves on the age limit bill.

Mutabazi replied that these resolutions are not legally binding adding that even if they were legally binding only 11 districts have passed resolutions way below the two thirds requirements of all the 120 districts councils.

Some of the issues highlighted by Mutabazi that the MPs ruled irrelevant were the advocacy for imposing academic qualification requirements for certain local government positions.

“We have been advocating for qualifications for at least the LCIII chairperson, an LCV councillor we have submitted to the line ministry and to the speaker,” Mutabazi explained.

He also raised the subject of decentralization noting that this mode of governance had lost its relevance and local governments were continuously being denied their discretion to decide on behalf of the people and that this has resulted in poor service delivery.

Mutabazi submitted a document of key areas of concern regarding local governments for further debate. “We trust that you will accord the local governments due recourse to their constitutional rights and obligations as enshrined in the constitution,” he stated.

MPs noted that these issues should be directed through the relevant committee of parliament and not brought before the legal committee which is currently entertaining views exclusively pertaining to the constitutional amendment No.2 Bill 2017.

“Are we allowing this irrelevant evidence produced before us to appear on our record of parliament?” Bukhooli North MP Gaster Mugoya queried.

Rwakoojo asked the team to take leave and communicate to the committee later on when they would be able to return to present and discuss issues relevant to the age limit bill.

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