Local council elections cannot wait anymore

One of the fundamental changes the NRMA brought to this country in 1986 was the democratisation of local government through the dismantling of the administrative system based on county (ssaza), sub-county (gombolola) and parish (mutongole)hiefs that we had inherited from the departing colonialists and kept through the years of Independence.

In its place, the new government introduced elected leaders in a five tier system starting at Local Council 1 (LC-1) at village level through LC-2 (parish), LC-3 (sub-county), LC-4 (county) up to LC-5 (district). The local councils comprised nine-member committees that run the affairs of the community through a consultative and democratic process as opposed to the top-down approach of the old colonial system.

The first LC-1 and LC-2 elections were held in 1989 and the last were held in 2006. This means that while democracy has seemingly grown at the national level with more elections and more representation at Parliament, at the village level, democracy has stunted.

What is left of the old LC-1 and LC-2 structure now is a band of survivors who feed off the villagers to endorse official documents, and political parasites who leave off presidential and parliamentary candidates (especially of the ruling party) whom they purportedly mobilise votes for.

The official reason for not holding LC-1 and LC-2 elections is that there is no money to conduct the exercise. The unofficial reason, according to many political analysts, is that since the Constitutional Court ruled that the LC elections must conform to the multi-party system and be conducted on the basis of party affiliation rather than on “individual merit” as was in the past under the so-called Movement system, the ruling party has been wary of having villages led by opposition which would mean that the structures there cannot be used to mobile support for it.

Instead, the opposition parties would get grassroots presence in the government structure as well which they currently lack.
Whatever the reason, it is sad that a leadership that nurtured grassroot democracy and broke the colonial yoke of indirect rule should be the one to superintend over the suffocation of the same.
This week, members of Parliament demanded that government immediately conducts LC-1 and LC-2 elections. We hope it will take heed money should not be an excuse to deny people democracy especially when the government is guilty of a lot of wastage every day.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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