On the 4th day of March 2020, the Local Government Amendment Bill, 2019, was passed by Parliament into law. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Local Governments Act, Cap. 243 to provide for the creation of local government and the magistrate units at least two years before the due date for the next general elections. The Act also seeks to provide for demarcation of electoral areas and prescribe the manner of conducting campaigns. Also, it aims to bar persons not ordinarily resIdent in a local government area from contesting for councillor for that area. Furthermore, it sets procedures for commencement of polls at each polling station and to align the Local Governments Act with the provisions of the Constitution as amended by the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2018.
Highlights of the Act
Key Issues and analysis
There was a debate on the introduction of minimum academic qualifications for a political position at the local government level. Members of the house argued that leaders who are knowledgeable and educated are ideal to lead their people. To this, they proposed a minimum qualification of senior four and cautioned Parliament against supporting illiteracy in Uganda. Notwithstanding the arguments by members, Parliament rejected the proposal for councilors to have a minimum qualification of senior four after members claimed that many of them had already started campaigning, and it will not be right to start imposing qualifications on them.
The Local Government Amendment Act, 2020, is among the five electoral reform bills tabled by Attorney General as recommended in the 2016 presidential petition. The other acts include; the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Political Parties and Organization (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill.