The Electoral Commission has asked Parliament to provide an additional Shs80 billion required to conduct Women Council elections, whose term expired in 2022, and the Local Council elections due for July 2023.
The money is part of the Shs542 billion the electoral body tabled before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, to cater for activities that are either underfunded or not funded, as per the approved budget estimates of the 2023/2024 financial year.
“The term of office for Local Councils I and II will expire on 14th July 2023. The Commission has planned to conduct the elections in the 2023/2024 financial year but no appropriation was made in the budget,” said EC Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama.
He said that failure to conduct the elections has legal and administrative implications, and asked Parliament to appropriate an additional Shs60.88 billion.
Byabakama added that it was imperative that the Women Councils’ election which was to be held in August 2022 but suspended due to lack of funds, be considered in the next budget. The cost of running these elections is Shs20 billion, he said.
Byabakama led EC officials before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to present their contribution to the ministerial policy statement of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for the 2023/2024 financial year. The meeting was held today, Thursday 13 April 2023.
The EC Secretary, Leonard Mulekwah, asked Parliament to further provide Shs7.29 billion to operationalize electoral offices and stores in the 10 newly created cities and Terego district, also left out in the approved budget estimates.
“The EC is required to operationalize electoral offices in those new creations by recruiting a district election administrator, assistant district election administrator, secretary, and driver for each electoral district,” said Mulekwah.
He added, “Currently these new creations are operating as desks in the mother districts with borrowed skeleton staff and logistics. This mode of operation has hampered service delivery in cities and mother districts”.
The committee chairperson, Robina Rwakoojo said the Women Councils’ elections were critical since they form part of the Parish Development Model teams.
MPs recognized EC’s request to fulfill its statutory obligations amidst limited funding and asked the Commission to consider funding their top priorities.
“Given that we all know we have limited resources, we advise you to consider activities that are adversely affected by non-funding. I for example suggest that you spend Shs11 billion to remunerate your staff and let political parties survive from their members’ contribution,” said Hon. Fox Odoi Oywelowo (NRM, West Budama North East County).
MPs recommended that EC should prioritize paying sub-county and parish election supervisors who they said were much aggrieved by delayed payments.
“I have been receiving complaints from parish supervisors complaining that they have some pending payments which have not been undertaken by the EC,” Bosco Ikiror (NRM, Usuk County).
Rwakoojo asked EC to payout the temporary electoral team that the EC hires during elections, saying those in her constituency have often complained of non-payment.