We shall not create more districts, town councils Minister Magyezi’s
Last month, Parliament approved the creation of 46 constituencies. These constituencies are expected to bring in effective service delivery to the masses characterized with appropriate representation in Parliament. District Focus’ Abel Turinawe spoke to Hon Raphael Magyezi, the Minister of Local Government on the values of creating the constituencies and the recently newly operationalized cities. Below are the excerpts.
In the past few months, we have seen the creation of cities and constituencies. What is the genesis of this development?
The creation of cities to me is a milestone and what remains now is for them to put in the law. The current legal framework has a lot of gaps. We only had one city- Kampala and we had not thought about others but now they are a reality.
I prepared a proposal of creating new counties. I took the trouble to explain to the President and got his approval. Cabinet later approved it. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we secured some funding. I presented them to Parliament. At first, they were 15 and Parliament advised me to go back and carry out assessment on all the applications that had been made and we finally came up with more 31 to make 46 constituencies.
Some people think that its stretching governance costs but to me it is improving stability and effective service delivery. People should know that by the time we amended the Constitution in 1995, Uganda’s population was only 13 million, but now we are talking about over 45 million people. The increase in population results into increased need for representation.
What remains now is to make sure that these newly created constituencies are seen as centers of service delivery. For example, a constituency should have a Health Center IV, they are zones for agriculture production.
I will work with relevant institutions to make sure that these constituencies are not just for formality and make sure that they have leadership.
We are speaking about constituencies and cities. A number of applications have been made in your office seeking the creation of districts and municipalities. What are your plans on that?
I undertook an initiative to ensure we do not continue creating districts, towns, town councils and sub-counties. I have done my best because in spite of the pressure, we have only created Terego district and I found it already on table. I have also taken consultation with Kasese and Bundibugyo because there is a proposal for Buhendera district. I visited there and I am yet to visit Tororo but the rest will have to wait because of the financial implications. Creating one district costs sh20b and I have done my job as the minister to guide the Government in taking the right decision. The same amount spent on creating a district can be used to create constituencies and ensure proper service delivery and representation.
We have received requests for about 36 municipalities and I am still guiding the Nation to say no. For now, we are not creating more but focusing on the cities to make sure that they have structures. I found when my predecessor had created 364 sub-counties and 352 town councils. We are awaiting funding to operationalize the 715 town councils and sub-counties.
How have LCIs been of help in these 100 days in office
I work with the local councils and that is the strength of decentralization. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we embarked on the issue of monitoring the district task forces, ensuring that we get their responses and fund them. I am glad that the President kept on recognizing the role of LCIs during the COVID-19 fight.
While creating administrative units, what are your plans on maintaining them because recently LCIII chairpersons in Mukono district petitioned the Speaker over their transport means.
We have already handled the transport issue of LCI, II and IIIs. We procured motorcycles for LCIII and bicycles for LCI and II in this quarter.
Highlight some of the challenges you have faced while in office for these first 100 days.
When I stepped in office, I met challenges of locusts, floods and COVID-19 pandemic. These are national issues but affect the Local Government so much and in each of these, my minister of State and I have worked tirelessly to protect our people. We have done our best and achieved it. For example, I was on the team that distributed food in Kampala I am happy that we got more than what we projected because we had planned for 1.5 million people but served over 1.8 million.
Has the initiative of Local Government Associations helped in strengthening service delivery in your first 100 days in office?
We have also scored in the area of Local Government Association and Urban Authority Association of Uganda where they have been functional during my first 100 days in office. I still stick on my pledge of working together with the local government associations because it is easy for me as a minister to reach out to them and know their concerns when they are well organized.