Parliament has passed the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2014 providing for lining up behind candidates during elections of chairpersons for village (LC1) and parish (LC2) levels.
The voting method will be a departure from what was provided for in the Local Government Act of universal adult suffrage through secret ballot.
The Bill provided that, “Election of village or cell council and parish or ward council chairperson shall be by the electorate lining behind the candidates nominated for the office, their representatives, portraits or symbols.”
Local Government Minister, Hon. Adolf Mwesigye said that despite efforts made to conduct elections at village and parish or ward levels since 2002, the huge cost amounting to Shs505b has made it impracticable for the elections to be held.
He appealed to legislators to consider the reality that the cost is too high for the country to afford.
“Government wants to exempt the forthcoming LC1 and LC2 elections from the requirement that they are held by secret ballot,” said Hon. Mwesige, adding that “I propose the long, transparent, democratic, time tested method of lining up behind candidates, their representatives, portraits and symbols of candidates.”
Parliament rejected a proposal by its Committee on Public Service and Local Government to maintain voting by secret ballot for village and parish chairpersons arguing that lining up behind candidates “brings along with it intimidation, fear, intrigue, disenfranchisement of leaders and consequently denying many people their right to vote.”
The Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2014 intended to amend the Local Government Act to provide for the procedure of conducting elections for administrative unit councils and committees; and to harmonise the provisions relating to public finance with the reforms made in the Public Finance Management Act.
The Local Government Act, which mandates the Electoral Commission to organise, conduct and supervise elections of local councils, provides that elections at local government and administrative unit level shall be by secret ballot using one ballot box for all candidates.