By Our Reporter
Mbale municipal councilors are divided over a petition to interdict the town clerk, Paul Batanda and Principal Finance Officer, Richard Mabala over declining local revenue collection. On July 9th, 2019, Mr Kassim Madagi, the Male Youth councilor petitioned the Speaker on behalf of councilors notifying him about their intention to table a motion seeking the interdiction of the two officers.
In the petition, the duo is accused of working in disregard of the constitution and local government act and the Financial Accounting Regulations. “To our surprise, Mr. Speaker the town Clerk and the Principal Finance officer have not ensured that some of these laws be implemented by the technical officers, which has led to declining revenue collection” the letter seen by media reads.
Batanda is also accused of failure to present to council the budget estimates for the 2018/2019 financial year, adding that the budget he submitted to the Finance Ministry is different from the one that was laid in council. Councilors also claim that the town clerk altered receipts of the income and expenditure for council departments for the 2017/2018 financial year.
Batanda is also accused of failure to implement lawful council resolutions as provided for in the local government act, which they claim has led to misappropriation of local revenue by technical staff. In their petition, the councilors want the town clerk and Principal Finance Officer to appear before council to respond to the allegations or else face interdiction.
However, some of the councilors who endorsed the petition are considering withdrawing their signatures, saying they didn’t understand what the petition was about before they signed it. Ketty Manake, the Namakwekwe Ward Female councilor, claims that a team of technical staff and politicians led by the Mayor Mutwalib Zandya met the petitioners and convinced them not to go ahead with the petition.
Manake said she decided to abandon the petition because she doesn’t understand its main objective. Manake said that she had signed the petition because of the mess she had seen in local revenue collection but says the town clerk and other leaders explained to her that they would change for better results and that is why she has decided to withdraw.
Immaculate Nakibule, the South Central Ward councilor denies signing any petition even when her signature appears on the copy of the petition URN has seen. Azida Muzaki, who also signed on the petition told our reporter on phone that she wasn’t part to the petition and declined to divulge details.
According to sources privy to the matter, some of the councilors distancing themselves from the petition have been compromised. The source also noted that some of the councilors are buying favors from the town clerk because they are sure they will not return to council in 2021.
Kasim Madagi, the Male Youth councilor who is the lead petitioner, says those who are withdrawing their signatures have been coerced by some long serving councilors.
Yusuf Muhubu, the IUIU ward representative, says they petitioned the speaker because they need an explanation from the technocrats on decreasing revenue collections.
Michael Mafabi Nandala, the Speaker Mbale Municipality told media that he received the petition but it was wrongly addressed and advised the petitioners to rewrite it.
The Town Clerk, Paul Batanda couldn’t comment on the matter but referred our reporter to the clerk to council, Dominic Wanzila.
Wanzila said his office started receiving instructions from some members who had earlier signed the petition indicating that they were withdrawing.
Mbale municipality suffered a short fall of over Shillings 2B in local revenue collection in the last financial year. Only Shillings 2billion out of the projected Shillings 4.8billion was collected.