Court Discontinues Jude Mbabaali’s Cities Petition

The High Court has dismissed a suit, in which Masaka DistrictChairperson Jude Mbabali and 11 others were challenging the guidelines on the operations of newly created cities. 

Mbabali had petitioned the High Court to quash the guidelines issued by Local Government Minister Rafael Magyezi on June 30, 2020, to guide the operations of the new cities on grounds that they contravene the procedures set out in the Local Government Act. 

He also challenged the declaration of all mayors of the Municipalities that were elevated into cities as the interim political heads of the new cities without elections to determine the winner as provided under the local government act.

This, the applicants argued was irregular, improper and irrational.  

However, the state attorney, Hillary Ebila told the court that there was no basis for the application since it was filed under the repealed sections of the Local Government Act.

He cited Sections 181 to 187 of the Act which had allegedly been violated by the guidelines, yet they had been repealed and Section 12 which abolished the positions of the speaker and deputy speaker.

He asked the court to dismiss the case. In his ruling, Masaka High Court Judge, Moses Kazibwe Kawumi said that the subsequent amendment of the local government act by government didn’t repeal the guidelines as submitted by the counsel of the respondents.

“Nullity cannot be repealed at law. I was urged to hear the application and determine on its merits, which I do not find useful given the analysis above,” the judge ruled, adding that the provisions of the Local Government Act affected by the said guidelines were repealed by the amended act.

Justice Kazibwe noted that the Electoral Commission, which was the second respondent to the suit, is in the process of organizing elections for all electives positions across the country including in the new cities.

“I, therefore, deem the application to have been overtaken by events. It’s hereby discontinued…,” the judge said.

“I don’t detect any more cause of action by the applicants who win on the issue of the validity of the guidelines even without going into the hearing. A court of law will not adjudicate hypothetical questions, a case in abstract or purely academic or speculative or a spent case or where there are no underlying facts in dispute,” he said.

Masaka city interim mayor, Godfrey Kayemba, welcomed the ruling, saying there was no basis for the applicants to challenge the operationalization of the cities. 

He said the application was driven by selfish interests and why the applicants were interested in the interim leadership of “illegally” created cities.

The newly created cities include Masaka, Mbarara, Gulu, Lira, Mbale, Jinja, Hoima, Soroti, Fort Portal and Arua.

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