By Henry Sekanjako and Moses Mulondo
Parliament has approved the creation of 43 new counties across the country, ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Three weeks ago, local government minister Adolf Mwesige tabled before Parliament a motion seeking approval for the creation of 39 new counties. The motion was later sent to Parliament’s committee on public service and local government for scrutiny.
However, before the approval of the 39, the minister amended the motion for the creation of four more new counties of Bukono, Torchi, Terego County East and Upper Madi-Okollo.
According to Mwesige, Torchi will be carved out of Omoro county, currently represented by deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah, Terego County East will be carved from Terego County, Bukono county out of Busiki in Namutumba district and Upper Madi-Okollo, from the present Madi-Okollo county. The counties automatically translate into Parliament constituencies.
“The creation of these new constituencies is necessary for the effective representation and streamlining of administration, internal emancipation, reduction of marginalisation and the need to improve planning of those areas and bring services closer to the people,” Mwesige told Parliament.
The alteration of boundaries or creation of administrative units, including counties, is provided for in the Constitution, based on the necessity for effective administration and the need to bring services closer to the people.
The creation of the 43 constituencies, however, means that the number of legislators will increase from the current 375 in the present Ninth Parliament, to 418 MPs in the 10th Parliament. MPs had proposed 65 new counties, but the other 22 have not been granted.
“This country is overrepresented and it is this overrepresentation that we are still clamouring for. Nobody should lie to you that creating a new constituency brings services closer to the people. We are only trying to justify why we need more constituencies,” said Nandala Mafabi (Budadiri).
Some MPs, mainly from the Opposition, also questioned the criteria the Government used to select the areas for the creation of new constituencies, saying it was for political purposes.
The MPs noted that some of the proposed counties were too sparsely populated to be named counties, compared to some that were rejected by the Government.
“We need new counties, but let us do things neatly. History will judge us. Some of us were not consulted when these counties were being selected. They were selected in a biased manner,” said Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo County).
Mwesige, however, explained that the creation of the new counties was based on a Cabinet discussion after several petitions and resolutions by different district councils.
“The Government has had so many requests and these were subjected to a study before it was presented to Cabinet, discussed and a decision made on this motion,” he stated.
According to Mwesige, the approved new counties were supposed to take effect last month.