New Constituencies Not Really Necessary

The minister of local government Adolf Mwesige on Monday held a meeting with some district officials during which it came to light that the government is planning to create as many as 36 new constituencies in different parts of the country.

Mwesige told the leaders that during his recent tours across the country, President Museveni encountered several requests for new constituencies, with people noting that some are simply too big and they feel under-represented.

The minister aised the district leaders of the affected areas, including Wakiso, Rakai, Kamuli, Koboko, Gomba, Kalangala Sembabule, Bukomansimbi, Kibaale, Kabale, Arua and Kasese, to have their district councils ratify the move by May 11 before the decision goes to parliament for approval.

Whichever way it is sugarcoated, this is an ill aised move. At about 380 lawmakers for a population of 35 million, Uganda is already home to one of the largest parliamentarians per capita in the whole world.

And more constituencies now means more MPs, which in turn means more money to spend on the legislature.

An additional 36 constituencies would push the total number of directly-elected MPs to 386, up from the current 350 (including district woman MPs). Added to special interest groups, the new proposal would take the total number of MPs to 411.

To bring this up at a time when Uganda is already chocking on its massive public administration expenditure involving the 80-member cabinet, 380-member House, 120 districts and their cocktail of leaders, more than one hundred presidential aisors, to mention just a few, is irresponsible.

The architects and beneficiaries of such schemes like to argue that it is necessary to take services closer to the people, but all reasonable people realize that this is not necessarily the case. Many of the new districts ostensibly created for similar aims do not even have a single hospital or decent school to boast of.

The real aim is to expand or consolidate patronage for political gain. Sadly, this happens at the expense of taxpayers. Moreover, the timing is morally wrong. Manipulating electoral boundaries eight months to the next general election can only be interpreted as an attempt to influence the outcome in one way or another.

There is need to rethink or resist this move.

Source : The Observer