Erias Lukwago is the Lord Mayor elect of Kampala City returning for a second term. He spoke to The Independent’s Agnes E Nantaba about his planned agenda to establish and maintain relevance of the Lord Mayor’s office for the next five years
You practically spent the better part of your first tenure in office out of office. What made you vie for the same position a second time?
I returned for the very mission I set out to accomplish in 2011 which unfortunately was frustrated along the way by some other powers; President Museveni did not give me room to implement the mission. I had a social contract with the people who elected me in 2011 after buying into my agenda and manifesto overwhelmingly because I scored over 64 percent. I was therefore left with the only option of embarking on what he did in 1980 through going into the trenches to fight for people power and regain the instruments of power that were snatched from me and we hope that the president respects the will of the people and returns them this time around.
He has the key to my office having forced me out much as the dictates of the constitution demand that the will of the people must prevail. There will be no problem if he re-opens the office of the Lord Mayor which will make me certainly deliver.
Your re-election means returning to a downgraded office. What is your planned agenda to establish and maintain relevance?
The target is to re-constitute the governing structure because what makes this office relevant is the powers vested into it under the KCCA act and once I capitulate on that, the office will become irrelevant. Their argument has always been ‘the office is purely ceremonial’ and if I accept that, I will not deliver the demands of the people who went to the polls and at the moment I am not ready to frustrate them with no accountability. We must get our priorities right and re-align the budget to suit the urgent needs of the people of Kampala such as floods by fixing the major trenches in Kampala. We must also look into the challenge of the social economic crisis as most of the people in Kampala are in the informal sector; yes we all want trade order but we must put into consideration the fact that we have a big army of people in the informal sector so we must have stop gap measures in the short run such as construction of markets. We got money under MATIPU programme but only constructed Wandegeya market yet there are others that are still pending like Ggaba, Kasubi, Busega, Nakasero and others. That is the only way we can solve the challenge of street vendors and congestion in Kampala city.
KCCA is currently working without a plan much as consultants presented the report on howwe can lay out a new design for Kampala depending on the current and expected future challenges. That is why Kampalans are taken on a blind date yet they must be part of the transformation process as defined in the plan. Also the structural plan must guide the construction of arcades and underground channels. We also need to work on a clear transport policy that should not be based on quick solutions of pushing away a group of people like boda-bodas but find a lasting solution. I believe in a shared vision where we sit together and revamp the institution of KCCA to benefit Kampalans.
But on November 9, 2015, Attorney General Fred Ruhindi tabled the KCCA (Amendment) Act which was looked to insulate KCCA’s technical wing from oversight of a directly-elected political head and downgrade the Lord Mayor’s role. Is this not another indication that you will not have it easy during your second term in office?
The governing principle is the will of the people and so any attempts to break it down may not be possible. The moment the people come out resolutely to say ‘this is what we want’, no leader can successfully go against it. It is only a collapsing regime that can take refuge in draconian and repressive laws. So they are trying to tinker with the laws and whittle down the influence of the people and circumvent the will of the people as stipulated in the constitution with an aim of breaking down the position of the Lord Mayor. But it is impossible. The people have maintained their stand.
They will not have it their way because once it doesn’t resonate with the interests of the people; it’s bound to boomerang on its weight on account of want of the will of the people.