Since 2002, Uganda had not held elections for Local Council (LC) One and Two (parishes) leaders. For the last 17 years therefore, the country did not have constitutionally recognised LC leadership. Indeed, the country had, during that period, transitioned to multiparty politics meaning that the structures that existed in a Movement form of governance were unconstitutional. After sustained advocacy however from different democracy and rule of law CSOs and other stakeholders, government agreed and the elections were finally held in the months of June and July.
The leaders however that were elected into office were not conversant with matters of the law yet cases involving administration of justice such as land disputes, formed the bulk of their work. It was on this premise that a workshop was organised by a German NGO, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung to orient newly elected LC leaders from select districts in central and Bunyoro regions in matters of the law and good governance.
One of the facilitators at the workshop was Her Worship Roselyn Nsenge, the Magistrate Grade 1, Law Development Centre Court who sensitized the LC leaders on their jurisdiction pertaining land cases. She noted that LC Courts do not have jurisdiction to preside over land cases, but can mediate or refer complaints to the next level of administration. She warned LC leaders against engaging in corrupt tendencies and presiding over disputes where they have vested interest
On their part, the leaders complained about having no offices to work coupled with inadequate funding. Mr Fred Mulindwa, Chairman LCI Lwanda village, Lwanda Sub County, Rakai district, central Uganda, said that LCs receive a meagre Shs10,000 a month, which can hardly facilitate their work. Mr. Mulindwa also admitted that they do not have knowledge of the law yet cases requiring knowledge of the law formed a big component of their work.
A representative from the Uganda Law Reform Commission urged the leaders to exercise impartiality in their work and pledged to work with CSOs and other stakeholders to ensure that further training is organised on rule of law and good governance.
While closing the workshop, Justice Yorokamu Bamwine, the Principal Judge and Head of the High Court of Uganda under whose jurisdiction are LC Courts noted that the LC Courts are the face of justice in Uganda given the fact that majority of people do not go to the ordinary courts but LC Courts for justice. He emphasised the importance of access and administration of justice, urging LC leaders to be good at records keeping something he said enables transparent dispensation of justice.
Justice Bamwine decried understaffing in the judiciary noting that there are only 52 judges of the High Court in the country presiding over cases in over 100 districts.