Museveni’s latest plan to kick Lukwago out of Kampala?
Erias Lukwago, 47, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Lord Mayor, is in fighting mode again. This time, it is not the Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi or the Minister for Kampala, Betty Kamya, he is taking on but a law. According to him the KCCA amendment Bill tabled in Parliament on May 09 is intended to completely trim his powers and put control of City Hall in President Yoweri Museveni’s hands for once and for all.
“The spirit in which this bill has been brought is suspect,” Lukwago told The Independent on May.15, “It is in bad faith. By proposing to amend section 11(1) (b), the executive intends to re-assert the powers of the central government. They want to legitimise their propaganda and mischief of usurping the powers of the Lord Mayor.”
That day Lukwago had just concluded a meeting with opposition politicians to strategise on how to fight the law which has re-ignited the seemingly subsided battles that dogged City Hall and locked Lukwago out of office the previous term.
What has irked Lukwago and his supporters most about the bill is the proposal to abolish the election of the Lord Mayor through adult suffrage. The bill proposes that the Lord Mayor be elected from among the elected councilors.
“They are taking us back (to the fights) and in the end the one that will suffer is the tax payer,” Lukwago said, “How can you have a political head of a legal entity that is not directly elected by the people?”
The bill also seeks to trim the powers of the Mayor and make the Minister the Political head.
The bill proposes the functions of the Lord mayor to be; presiding over all meetings of the council, to perform ceremonial functions, to host foreign and local dignitaries and the promote the capital City as a tourist and investment destination.
The problem, he says, is that this government has lost grip over the most strategic and most prominent part of the country and “Museveni, who has always survived on political maneuvers and machinations, now wants to create confusion and political despondency in Kampala”
Medard Sseggona, the Busiro East legislator, who has worked closely with Lukwago and has represented him in court in some of the fights, says simply “the Bill is bogus”.
“It is a coup that Museveni wants to conduct because people in Kampala have rejected him,” he told The Independent, “Secondly, it is offensive to the constitution which says this country is supposed to be governed by the policy of decentralisation. Thirdly, it is taking away people’s power to elect their leaders. Museveni is essentially saying that while the people of Kiruhura can choose their leaders, the people of Kampala can’t.”
He argues that the clashes at City Hall aren’t a problem of the law. “The ED is an accounting officer and her work is to implement the decisions of the authority,” he explained to The Independent, “The ED is supposed to report to the Authority which is headed by the mayor who then takes the report to the council. Powers of the minister on the other hand are limited to giving policy guidance to ensure that it is in line with the law and with government policy.”
But the government argues that the Bill, which was first tabled in Parliament in November 2015 by former Minister for Kampala Frank Tumwebaze, is intended to streamline and strengthen the governance of the Capital City.