Parliament has maintained the Shillings 3 million nomination fees for parliamentary aspirants. The matter came up during discussions on the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill, 2019 during plenary on Tuesday evening.
The Bill among others seeks to amend the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005 to delay elections in newly created districts until the next general elections provide for the participation of independent candidates, mandate Electoral Commission to designate restricted areas and provide special procedures for voting in restricted areas.
While considering provisions in the bill, the Budadiri West Member of Parliament, Nathan Nandala Mafabi called for the revision of the nomination fees for parliamentary candidates from Shillings 2 million to Shillings 200,000.
Parliament increased the nomination fees of parliamentary aspirants from Shillings 200,000 to Shillings 3 million in 2015. However, the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill, 2019 is silent on the nomination fees.
The Butambala County MP, Muwanga Kivumbi and his Kira Municipality counterpart, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda supported Nandala’s proposal. Muwanga argued that the fees should be slashed to cater for low income earners who want to contest.
Ssemujju, who is also Chief Opposition Whip, said the reduction of the nomination fees will also benefit even 18-year-olds who harbor political ambitions.
However, some legislators and the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga vehemently opposed the proposal to slash the nomination fees.
Byaruhanga argued that lowering the fees will result into an influx of contestants, which may make it difficult for Electoral Commission to conduct free and fair parliamentary elections.
The Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa and Kyotera Woman MP, Robinah Ssentongo agreed with Byaruhanga and proposed that the figure should instead be raised.
The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga urged the legislators to consider the outcry from some members of the public, particularly youth.
However MPs still rejected Nandala’s proposal with many suggesting that the figure is either raised or maintained. Following the heated debate, Kadaga noted that the proposal seemed to be unpopular and ruled that the Shillings 3 million nomination fees be maintained.
The House proceeded to consider the proposals in the Bill and passed most of them with the exception of one on independent candidates and declaration of sources of campaign funds. Among the approved provisions is that when a new district or constituency is created after a general election, the elective positions created will be filled during the next general elections.
The current law provided that elections be held sixty days after the creation of a new district or constituency. The 1995 Uganda Constitution provides that the commencement of a constituency and the election of Members of Parliament for a newly created district “shall come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament.”
The approved proposal also requires districts to consult the Finance Minister before creating new administrative units to assess their viability and financial stability. Parliament approved the creation of several districts in a phased manner in 2015 effective July 1st, 2016 up until 2019.
They include among others Nabilatuk, Kapelebyong, Bugweri, Kwania, Kassanda and Kikuube districts. Electoral Commission has since failed to conduct polls in some of the new districts citing lack of funds.