KAMPALA, UGANDA; The Minister for Local Government, Hon. Raphael Magyezi has urged the Committee on Local Government and Public Service to push for the availability of funds to procure vehicles for mayors and district chairpersons.
According to Magyezi, the ministry requires up to Shs35.2 billion to buy the vehicles which he said can be allocated from the three per cent supplementary threshold that can be spent by government without prior Parliament approval.
The requirement is for 135 district chairpersons, 10 mayors of cities and 31 mayors of municipalities. Magyezi said this in a meeting with MPs on the committee chaired by Hon. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi on Wednesday, 12 July 2023.
The minister observed that the Hoima District Chairperson died in an accident because the car he was in was out of commission while the Mubende District Chairperson also had a road problem with his vehicle.
“These are usually departmental vehicles or personal vehicles. We need to put up a fight for at least Shs200 million per district to procure these vehicles,” Magyezi added. Hon. Susan Amero (Indep., Amuria District Woman Representative) said some district chairpersons have abused the use of vehicles assigned to them and queried the feasibility of such an expenditure.
“The chairpersons in Amuria District have stopped the drivers from driving the vehicles. The chief administrative officers have done the same. Are we going to keep putting money where it is being misused?” Amero asked.
She added that before spending tax payers’ money, it is prudent to discipline those who have abused it. Mapenduzi said that some district chairpersons and mayors who were elected in 2021 and have no vehicles assigned to them, tend to use district ambulances to execute their duties including carrying out inspections.
“We need to deal firmly with people who abuse their powers but we also need to ensure that we provide what is needed for entities to function properly,” he said.
The minister also called for a strong voice on matters pertaining to decentralisation and recentralisation. He noted that local governments performed well financially when there was a good decentralisation policy, adding that the system has registered a downward trend.
“As the powers of the people to manage their economy and affairs goes down, the economy also goes down. We have seen the powers of an elected district chairman being taken over by an RDC. If it is not possible this year, then we should have a national review of decentralisation next year,” Magyezi said.
Magyezi also rallied for proper physical planning of newly created administrative units, relocation of districts where the new cities were created and a sharing arrangement of assets, which he said can be addressed through amending the Local Government Act.