By Hon. Tulio Odongi Ayahu
August 29, 2013 - The Eastern Equatoria Parliament voted to promote towns to more pronounced City Councils; that of Torit, Nimule and Kapoeta. That again has come again amidst of controversies recalling the uncalled for contest between Central Equatoria with National Government, when the President appointed Ambassador Sebit Alle to be Mayor of Juba. That was encountered by the Governor of Central Equatoria Sate appointment of the present mayor of Juba Alhag Baballa – NCP. The Western Bahr el Ghazel followed suit with another controversy transferring the County’s Headquarters of Wau town to the suburbs towns of Wau. The governor was accused of lack of consultations which created a conflict with indigenous population; we all bring to mind the conflict that litigated that part of the nation.
To my understanding, the President had acted correctly on the issue of Juba town; he followed the supreme law of the national Constitution. Juba as the National Capital territory belongs to the National Government and its territory is defined by law. He had advocated the lying down the processes of establishment by first beginning with legal warrant of establishment in accordance with the Local Government Act 2009, at the end could have led to warrant of establishment of Juba as a municipality. But the Central Equatoria jumped the gun and went ahead to unilaterally established the municipality by appointing the Mayor regardless of the legal framework.
The Role of the Municipality
The municipality, consisting of a group of communities in a town with number of Payam that serves primarily as a general purpose of the government for the coordination and delivery of basic, regular and direct services and effective governance of the inhabitants within its territorial jurisdiction although mindful of the provisions of Local Government Act 2009, on issue of land, which still remains the competency of the community or county.
Manner of Creation
A municipality may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered only by an Act of Parliament and subject to the approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the local government authority in that local government unit or units directly affected. As may be otherwise provided in the Local Government Act, ‘the plebiscite should be held within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of its effect’ if so required although that remains the necessary decision by the President.
Requisites for Creation
A municipality may be created when its population reaches at least (150,000) inhabitants certified by national statistics or more and if it has an average annual income, as certified by the provincial treasurer, of at least Twenty million South Sudanese or more for the last two (2) consecutive years taking base year of 2011 independence for constant prices; a population of at least twenty-five thousand (25,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office; and a bordering territory of at least fifty (50) square kilometres as certified by the Lands Management Bureau: Provided, That the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population or income of the original town or municipality at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed.
The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created municipality shall be properly identified by bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the municipality proposed to be created is composed of one extended territory of the county (County).
The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund of the municipality concerned, exclusive of special funds, transfers from the State recurring income.
Existence of municipal districts organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders which have their respective set of elective municipal officials holding office at the time of the affectivity. Up to now the President in this regards has not given his consent to legal framework for the creation of such territories and therefore considered as irregular municipalities by all counts.
Therefore, all those proposed towns including already assumed to have been established are not yet studied or a wider consultative framework carried out; although I learned of some marginal consultations with the chiefs or other opinion leaders, are not be enough. Supreme before that is the warrant the establishment by the President which must be put as a prerequisite to such an authority. Even Juba is still disputed because the President of the Republic has not given his consented to the establishment but governors have exercise certain powers drawn from instinct that they are elected to carry out certain competing powers regardless orders or directive from the President.
The case of three towns of Eastern Equatoria State is political strategy of the Governor of the state, though the idea may be welcomed but needs time and therefore sounds ill-fated to continue with the establishment on selfish interest.
Hon. Tulio Odongi Ayahu is a member of South Sudan National Legislative Assembly