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Saturday 19th of April 2014 05:16:57 AM
 

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Lukwago’s political dilemma

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As mayor, he needs to strike a balance between the competing demands of his electoral base and his job

Last week, Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago was impeached by 29 to three votes in the Capital City Council. However, the High Court later declared his impeachment hurried and reinstated him. Lukwago’s supporters were jubilant, seeing this as a major victory.

Tactically, yes. But strategically the Lord Mayor can delay but cannot stop his fall. NRM may have used many dirty tricks to frustrate Lukwago leadership. However, this was not inevitable. Lukwago bears a significant part of the responsibility for his troubles.

Lukwago was elected on an independent ticket having fallen out with his own political party, the Democratic Party (DP). The DP is a powerful political influence in the city that produced the last two preceding mayors.

 

It is also backed by the Catholic Church that is a powerful force in our politics. Its institutional cooperation is necessary for any mayor to govern the city. Lukwago also inherited a city legislature (council) composed of 18 councilors from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) plus two independents allied to it. And Lukwago and NRM are bitter enemies.

More still DP had six councilors and one independent allied to it. All the seven accuse Lukwago of having fought them during the election. This means that from the beginning, 27 out of 30 councilors had an axe to grind with the mayor.

Yet this council was the team over which Lukwago was supposed to preside, bring members together to develop city policies and programs for implementation, approve budgets, and provide political oversight to the administrative team headed by the Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi. Thus, from the word go, Lukwago had no base in the council.

Worse still, Lukwago inherited a technical administration headed by an executive director appointed by President Yoweri Museveni, propped by him, financed by him and therefore beholden to him. Museveni has been unusually supportive of Musisi, often inviting her to state house and holding meetings with her and her team while excluding Lukwago from them. Clearly, Museveni was using Musisi, even dubiously, to try and undermine Lukwago. In real politics, it was in Museveni’s interests to frustrate Lukwago.

NRM wanted to invest more money in the city. In the first year, the budget of the city increased from Shs45 billion to 75 billion. This financial year (the third year) it has reached Shs200 billion. NRM certainly wanted to take full credit for any improvements in the city and perhaps reap a handsome political dividend. And more importantly for the powerful barons of the ruling party, they must have wanted to partake in the increased budget by capturing all the lucrative city tenders and through corruption.

Hence to govern, Lukwago needed exceptional political and leadership skills. He needed the support of councilors from political parties that had an axe to grind with him. He also needed the cooperation of administrative machinery that had been hurriedly put in place to thwart his ambitions and plans. Therefore, he needed to seduce hostile councilors and the administrative team. This is a tall order for anyone.

It demanded Lukwago make compromises many of which would have betrayed his ideals and vision. For example, it may have demanded that he tolerates their corruption and turns a blind eye to their buccaneering. He needed to be conciliatory. Instead he chose to be confrontational. Why?

I studied with Lukwago in the class of international law at Makerere University, lived with him as my neighbor in Lumumba Hall and we always engaged in political debate. We have thus been friends for many years. He is not the conciliatory type. However, I think that his political approach, though reflective of his personality, cannot be reducible to it. To understand his conduct, one has to look at the political dilemma that Lukwago faced.

Lukwago was elected through a political constituency largely hostile to Museveni and NRM. It was also sick of the corruption and buccaneering inside the DP. If he attempted any conciliatory approach, Lukwago would have been seen as joining the thieves.

He would have been denounced as a traitor to the cause: accused of selling out to an old corrupt guard in DP and bribed by Museveni. So what Lukwago needed to govern effectively was politically toxic to his base. And Lukwago is a politician driven, like all politicians, by one overriding ambition – to retain his base so as to be re-elected.

But Lukwago is also a man of grand ideals. He wanted to curb the power of the Uganda Tax Drivers and Operators Association (UTODA) for the good of the city. He allied with Musisi to take management of parks from UTODA. In doing this, he alienated the other major constituency in the city, Muslims. Lukwago, himself a Muslim, had been elected with significant Muslim support.

Over 70 percent of UTODA is controlled by Muslims, their kingpins being Prince Kassim Nakibinge who also heads the Kibuli faction of Muslims and Haji Moses Kigongo, the national vice chairman of the ruling NRM. Behind Nakibinge is also a constituency at Mengo, the seat of Buganda Kingdom.

In stepping on too many toes while lacking a solid base rooted in those institutions through which Ugandans organise for political action (political parties, religious organisations, traditional collectivities etc), Lukwago got dangerously exposed.

But he had one force behind him - the street. Rather than lead his supporters, they led him. So he failed to transition himself from an opposition activist into a chief executive of the city. As mayor, Lukwago is supposed to govern. Yet he spent most of his time protesting on the streets and being beaten by police.

If Lukwago lacked the skills to govern, he utilised the skills he had in abundance i.e. for protest. But that meant he would keep his base via emotional sympathy instead of keeping it through the benefits of public policy. By fearing to compromise, he was held hostage to his base. Yet in doing this, Lukwago may suffer the fate of the ancient Roman statesman, Gaius Sempronius Gracchus.

Elected tribune in 123 BC, Gaius pursued progressive reformist policies that annoyed the patricians (the upper classes) but benefited the popularis (the poor classes). This instigated a constitutional crisis and the Roman Senate ordered his death. When his severed head was brought to the senate as a prize, the city mob he had befriended did not raise in protest; it was busy plundering his house.

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Comments (28)Add Comment
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written by nasasira abner niike, December 07, 2013
well put..wounderful article..i hope lukwago can read it
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written by opio, December 07, 2013
How could Frank tumwebaze imprison a 2week old baby and its mother without food or medical-care for a whole week while firing bullets and teargas outside the door. What sort of evil human being tortures an innocent beautiful baby so badly like that. Tears r streaming down my face even as i write this now. Frank tumwbaze should be a man and resign forthwith. Shame on u frank tumwbaze.
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written by opio, December 07, 2013
if council that was short of 4 councillors who were then elected a week b4 the council voted. How could they have got the authority and knowledge to cast a vote to impeach when they had never been members of that council ever? b4. I think frank tumwebaze needs to resign 4 such a delibarate blander.
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written by opio, December 07, 2013
In uganda as elsewhere in africa we tend to view life and politics through the prism of TRIBE. This whole issue was also from beggining loaded with sentiments of tribe and yet frank tumwebaze goes ahead to use the main council petitioning from western, tribunal judge from western, 4 new councillors all from western and the impeaching minister himself also from western. Surely knowing the thinking of our pple, this was a laughable major blander by frank tumwebaze and maybe he shd resign immediately.
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written by Jimmy, December 07, 2013
There is a price to pay for everything. By demonstrating and engaging in dirty politics in order to undermine and remove Lukwago from office, president Museveni has undermined his position at a regional level. There will be no political federation of East African countries anytime soon during Museveni's reign.
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written by Ocheto, December 07, 2013
The dirty politics of the sixties is still alive and well. The puppeteer behind all this never ending nightmarish mess is a creature of the sixties and the master of its corrupt and sick politics. Short of having his or her own armed forces it is almost inconceivable how anyone could politically cross paths with Museveni and ever hope to survive and live to tell about it. A defeated and cowed Mwenda is a typical living example of what happens to those who dare to. Even with all its immense machinery of power of control NRM still has to resort to overzealous, underhanded tactics to make their case. It is totally suffocating and demeaning to the democratic enterprise.
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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
I watched 9's pathetic display of a lame analysis on NTV about the events that have captivated Kampalans over the past few weeks. I have to admit that this man's analysis whether in print or audio nauseates me to the hilt because he is consistently wrong. His only asset is his persistency which actually borders on delusion. Delusion is a firm, fixed, false belief that is resistant to reason or fact. This is exactly what this 9 is all made of.
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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
If you watched his analysis on NTV this past week, you would exactly arrive at what I am talking about. In his analysis, with unequalled arrogance and a feel of personal importance, 9 painted all Lukwago supporters as idlers, pick pockets and nobodies whose opinion counted for squat! He went on to say how these people were inconveniencing his rights as a motorist using the road .
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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
Mwenda's proclivity for shooting first before thinking has now become legendary! At one time, he rebuked Lukwago for supporting Kampala vendors, while the ED wanted to clear the city of these hooligans (9's words). However this time, because it suits the interests of his pay masters, found breath for roadside tomato sellers as one of the groups that Lukwago disappoints, apparently forgetting that at one time he was against these people! Mwenda went on to reference the discredited afro barometer polls whose validity every respectable statistician understands is nothing but rigged!
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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
Mwenda's lack of insight has become unequalled. How can he forget that the same citizens he calls pickpockets and idlers have the same rights as he does? Must he also know that these people's acclaim to this city are deeper that your claim?
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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
In South Africa the same words that Mwenda spits were said not only of Nelson Mandela but also of the crowds that stood up to fight apartheid. It surprises me less that Mwenda is abuses legal citizens with the same contempt. Does anyone get surprised for the minority government Mwenda works for is using the same tactics that apartheid South Africa used? Do you people get surprised when this minority regime uses the same oppressive tactics that apartheid SA used? Take a look at the Mamba vehicles, which are now banned in South Africa, who employs them? Take a look at the demographic engineering taking place in Buganda?
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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
Take a look at the farce and quality of education in Uganda. Have you realized the gutting of national institutions, state of terror by police and segregation along ethnic lines? You see, apartheid means apartness and even the white minority regime used some blacks like Buthelezi to realize their evil, hence Mwenda has become one of propagandist to enhance the interests of this minority regime. This has to be spelt out by people like myself. Mwenda has to be undressed for who he really is. The good thing is he cant order myself to be tear gassed here.

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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
Mwenda, whether you call every one a pick pocket, an idler or a nobody, there is no going back. The seed has already germinated and people wont stop fighting for their rights. M7 and this minority regime can pretend that this is not a people's demand for change, but aint no way of putting the genie back into the bottle. The only other option is to submit to the evil, rot and decay that this minority regime has wrought on the majority population. Mwenda can pontificate as much as he wants but this situation is here to stay until people are governed by those whose consent they acquiesce to
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written by STEVEN NSUBUGA, December 07, 2013
I wonder whether Mwenda heard what the Kenyan delegation said about m7. "Siasa ya Uganda nio mbofu". You should tell us what that spells about the EAC. Why do you think none of the presidents showed up at Kololo? The Tanzanians said, "if you can't let opposition even hold a mayoral position, why do you invite us in a federation? Rwanda said they wont be ready for a political federation till 2026. See....even these people can now see what m7 really is. There wont be a political federation until he is dead.
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written by ngombe, December 08, 2013
We all have different lenses of viewing issues and such saga's such has the lukwago saga, but the government lawyer Nyombi also sees things differently. Nyombi once said that once M7 came in, the guns fell silent, as far as know M7 guns have never ceased blazing, they only change blazing locations, luweero,masaka, mbarara,kampala, the north, kigali, kinshasha, kisangani, goma(m23),somalia, no single year in time has the guns not been blazing with M7 complicity or blessings, what does that tell us about our warlord president to solve issues in a peacefull way, no no no i think we are expecting too much from a demented warrior, whose only answer to all life problems is overpower and extinguish.
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written by pacol, December 08, 2013
As one of Mwenda's own journalists put it,
""Underneath all these sad state of affairs you will discover a devastating problem that threatens our common future that every Ugandan must deal with; the NRM’s centrist politics which has undermined the foundation of national sanity."
- See more at: http://www.independent.co.ug/c...Ru5w.dpuf"
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written by Tina, December 08, 2013
Politics of double agents in Uganda.i thought all political leaders were to make Uganda a better place regardless of our political affiliation.does one become less human when they work with Govt or its for political convenience? i did not know that what people perceive about you whether true or false could makes one fail or fear to make decisions for fear of being misunderstood therefore resulting to hypocrisy.as a result, Ugandans get a raw deal in leadership and development.our leaders in the opposition should have learnt from Mandela who after release of prison joined hands together with the whites to make S.Africa a better.
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written by Denis Musinguzi, December 09, 2013
By choosing to fight M7 and not compromise with other actors in the Council, Lukwago invited this humiliation and should have braced himself for the tough fight. Crying foul of the system he detests, and seeking solace from the same system (courts) for solace, shows he either didn't know a leaf about the battle he had waged or was and has still remained oblivious of tact and strategy to help him sail through. Unfortunately, this leaves him as an unprepared fighter and an ungraceful loser! How I wish he was as smart in politics and strategy as he's in law and street politicking!
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written by Marvin ya Kuku, December 10, 2013
By choosing to fight M7 and not compromise with traitors in the council, Lukwago humiliated govt and should brace himself for good reward. Beating a system he detests, and then winning (in court) shows he knows so much about the battle he has waged and has so much support to help him sail through. Fortunately he has shown the govt to be unprepared and ungraceful losers. How we are happy he is not only so smart in politics and strategy but also in law and street politicking! Our own Mandela. I shall call him Lukwago "mayordiba" Mandela
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written by Winnie, December 10, 2013
Let me 1st worship Andrew .In the bible, they say give praise and honor to those who praise and honor is due Andrew, you are a treasure and you deserve all the praises on earth. may God bless you my dear i cant get enough of you..
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written by Winnie, December 10, 2013
On Lukwago, i dont know why that guy is forcing life on being a mayor he even does not walk like a mayor aren't there posts for a mayor in Bulange/mengo?sadly our politics has become so cheap you will never ever hear nambooze or Ssemujju even defend rubbish collection in the city for fear of losing votes.
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written by Winnie, December 10, 2013
On Mandela i know Africa has had only two major presidents M7 and Mandela the following are the similarities between Mandela and M7.
1. They both liberated and made Africans proud of our heritage.
2. They both have pretty children with good smiles.
3.They both sacrificed a lot for their country one was in the bush the other in prison
4. They are both handsome and brown. I hope you all saw the presidential hand( looking good and healthy) when the presidential blood has being tested.
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written by peter, December 24, 2013
Winne. how old are you...did your mother leave you with a laptop by mistake and your learning how to type.
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written by Rwasubutare, January 11, 2014
oh Peter, Winnie is ancient.
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written by Rwasubutare, January 11, 2014
But he had one force behind him - the street. Rather than lead his supporters, they led him. So he failed to transition himself from an opposition activist into a chief executive of the city. As mayor, Lukwago is supposed to govern. Yet he spent most of his time protesting on the streets and being beaten by police.THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE FOR ALL TIME. Lukwago is like a politician of a neighbouring country who people if you make him president he will oppose the government. His name is Odinga.
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written by written by semakula, January 13, 2014
Lukwago's only of fence is demanding accountability which is constitutionally one of his obligations as lord mayor. But given the rampant corruption in all government institutions including KCCA it is not possible to allow him back to monitor them. To mention but a few look at the massive public land give a ways including wet lands, tenders that are signed with out the contract committee, mushrooming structures every where which don't even have the minimum required standard and so on & you expect Lukwago back no way.
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written by written by semakula, January 13, 2014
Some time I' get disappointed with the likes of Mwenda faulting Lukwago who is purely following his Constitution obligations as opposed to Musisi who is following her masters orders. You claim to have investigative skills but how comes that you close your eyes when it comes to the massive corruption taking place in kcca.Just look at the way roads,despite being narrow they are being constructed with a very thin layer of tarmac,the normal cheap wall paint being used to mark the roads instead of the recommended road marking paint, swamps &wet land destruction &so on.but just because she has planted a few greens on Kampala road at a cost which is not even known you sing it at every program me you go to.Shame smilies/sad.gif
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written by muga, January 20, 2014
well,some how will agree with you but agree to disagree on some issues ,majority of kampala people have come to a situation of hopelessness and to them some politicians inclusive Mr. Lukwago are messiahs sent from heaven ,if for argument purposes demands clear accountability from Madam Musisi ,clearly why councilors are paid monthly ,why stopped from visiting some projects funded by council ,his intentions could be negative but give him a chance .
thanks

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