By Hanning Mbabazi
Kampala: Former Bufumbira legislator Eddy Wagahungu Kwizera has petitioned the Constitutional court seeking cancellation of 83 constituencies that were legally created by Parliament and the Electoral Commission, claiming that the right number of geographical constituencies in Uganda today must be 214, not the 297 which are represented in the 10th Parliament.
In Kwizera’s case filed on May 10th, 2019, Wandera Ogalo, his lawyer, called this ‘impunity’ and ‘expediency’ in handling of critical maters of State. Kwizera claims that 83 constituencies were ‘illegally’ created by Parliament between 2011 and 2019, and should, therefore, be declared null and void, expunged from government records and the affected MPs be compelled to refund taxpayers’ money. “Parliament has never decided how many constituencies Uganda shall be divided into. Instead, it embarked on creating constituencies piecemeal and has ended up with 297 constituencies,” the court documents filed through Victoria Advocates and Legal Consultants, read in part. “The 214 constituencies remain the only constitutionally recognized constituencies as clearly laid down by the 1996, 2001 and 2005 Acts of Parliament. The addition of one constituency in 2006, 22 [constituencies] in 2011, 51 in 2016 and a further six [municipalities in the run up] to 2016 elections are all illegal constituencies.”
The Parliamentary Elections (Interim Provisions) Act, 1996 was repealed by the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2001 but the first schedule containing only 214 constituencies was saved until Parliament prescribes new constituencies under Article 63 of the Constitution. In his petition, Kwizera asserts that the resolutions of Parliament creating additional 83 constituencies, including the recently created six municipalities of Kotido, Nebbi, Bugiri, Ibanda, Apac and Sheema, violated Articles 61(c) 63(2) and 91(1) of the Constitution. The petitioner says the resolution to create Apac, Sheema, Ibanda, Nebbi, Bugiri, and Kotido as Parliamentary constituencies was unconstitutional, null and void, adding that “the districts did not resolve to upgrade their towns to municipalities for purposes of gaining a parliamentary seat. They were even aware that creation of parliamentary constituency requires an Act of Parliament. It is surprising that councilors are aware of this and parliamentarians are not.” For instance, Article 61(1) (b) prescribes one of the functions of the EC as: “to demarcate constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”. This mandate was usurped by Parliament and the Executive in disregard of Article 63(2) that requires that the EC demarcates constituencies to ensure that each county has at least one MP. Jotham Taremwa the EC spokesman said that creating new constituencies “does not concern EC” even as Ogalo averred that the Constitution is very clear, “matters relating to curving boundaries of new constituencies is a preserve of the EC.” Ogalo added that: “Parliament has no authority whatsoever to change the boundaries of constituencies as it did by curving geographical areas out of existing constituencies and designating them new parliamentary constituencies. That was a naked usurpation of a function of the EC.