KAMPALA: The Electoral Commission (EC) has asked parliament to provide an additional 80 billion shillings required to conduct women’s council elections, whose term expired in 2022, and local council elections due in July 2023.
The money is part of the 542 billion shillings 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 for the 2023–2024 financial year.
The EC Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, said that the term of office for Local Councils I and II will expire on July 14, 2023, adding that the commission has planned to conduct the elections in the 2023-2024 financial year but no appropriation was made in the budget.
He said that failure to conduct the elections has legal and administrative implications and asked Parliament to appropriate an additional 60.88 billion shillings.
Byabakama added that it was imperative that the Women Councils’ elections, which were to be held in August 2022 but were suspended due to lack of funds, be considered in the next budget, noting that the cost of running these elections is 20 billion shillings.
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 on Thursday.
The EC Secretary, Leonard Mulekwah, asked Parliament to further provide 7.29 billion shillings 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, an assistant district election administrator, a secretary, and a driver for each electoral district,” said Mulekwah.
He added that currently, these new creations are operating as desks in the mother districts with borrowed skeleton staff and logistics adding that this mode of operation has hampered service delivery both in cities and mother districts.
The committee chairperson, Robina Rwakoojo, said the women’s councils’ election was critical since they form part of the Parish Development Model teams.
MPs recognized that EC’s request was to fulfil its statutory obligations amidst limited funding and asked the commission to consider funding its 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’ contributions,” said Hon. Fox Odoi Oywelowo (NRM, West Budama, North East County).
MPs recommended that EC 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 that have not been undertaken by the EC, said Bosco Ikiror (NRM, Usuk County).
Rwakoojo asked EC to pay the temporary electoral team that it hires during elections, saying those in her constituency have often complained of non-payment.