TORORO – Tororo district local authorities have initiated the process to retrieve official stumps from individuals who have been impersonating as village and parish chairpersons without the mandate of the electoral commission.
The alleged imposters were elected into offices in 2002 but have since continued to impersonate even after their term of office expired last year when electoral commission conducted general elections countrywide that had new office bearers being elected into offices.
According to the chief administrative officer Mr. Dunstan Balaba, the affected 417 villages and 52 parishes are from the entire Tororo North and South constituencies; the areas that boycotted the recently concluded Local Council general elections that had been organized by the electoral commission to have new office bearers in every village and parish.
He said the boycott created a hostile environment for the electoral commission to conduct fair and peaceful elections in the affected part of the district and by law areas where formal elections were not conducted then all leaders who served before an election was conducted seize to be recognized.
‘’We acknowledge the service that the affected leaders have been offering to the people but we cannot bend the law, therefore, we have written to the electoral commission to give us guidance but as a local government we have initiated the process to retrieve official stumps from them as we plan to procure new stumps and hand over to gazetted leaders by electoral commission’’ Mr. Balaba said.
He added that equally the district is stuck with shillings 56.2 million which was part of the money that the central government disbursed to the district to clear off arrears for Local council I and II ex-gratia.
The chief administrative officer acknowledged that the ministry of Finance, Planning and economic development made remittance of the funds as per the number of villages and parishes but did not highlight the gazetted list of names for leaders to be paid particularly for the two constituencies as it did to the other part of the district.
‘’Whereas payment has successfully been done in the other part of the district especially in West Budama North, West Budama South and Tororo Municipality which had gazetted names if beneficiaries they are stranded with who to pay in Tororo south and North constituencies’’ Mr. Balaba explained.
‘’We have disbursed the money to respective lower local governments but I have instructed accounting officers in affected administrative units to halt payment not until the district gets feedback from the ministry of local government on what should be done’’ he added.
However, the electoral commission’s spokesperson Jonatham Taremwa confirmed that to this Website correspondent that apparently local council one and two structures in Tororo South and North constituencies are not recognized and those occupying the offices are impersonating and will be dealt with.
He said its in the constitution that its only the electoral commission that organizes for an election whenever need arises which it did but its unfortunate that the people of the affected areas boycotted the elections to an extent that they assaulted some of their officers as well as destroying electoral materials which forced the commission to withdraw.
‘’We acknowledge receiving a write up from the district seeking clarification whether these have gazetted leaders but literary by law all areas that never had elections have no leaders, therefore, all the two constituencies have no leaders and they will only be gazetted when the commission considers holding an election’’ he explained.
Mr. Taremwa said the boycott started way back on the 19th day of May 2017 when a team of members of the National Electoral Commission led by their Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama were held hostage by charged residents of Tororo County until the intervened by whisking them away from an angry crowd that even cued life rats.
‘’You cannot imagine that the protesting residents went to an extent of cuing life rats before the team which indicated danger calling for an intervention of the police that helped to whisk the team from the crowd that had held them hostage and looking at the situation, the commission took a decision to call off the proposed by-elections’’ he said.
He said according to the placards displayed by the protesting residents, they were demanding for a separate district citing marginalization and oppression by their Jopadhola counterparts of West
Budama even after a team took time explaining to them that the electoral commission has got no mandate of curving out administrative units that include districts.
He added that during a rowdy meeting that ended pre-maturely at Mukujju county headquarters in Tororo North, Tororo District, the officials were held hostage for over 20 minutes forcing the commission to suspend the then proposed by-election to fill the vacant district LC5 seat which had been created after the demise of the district chairperson in January 10, 2017.