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Jennifer Musisi under siege

As Jennifer Musisi, the Executive Director, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) makes five years in office on April 15, the question some key players in the capital are asking is whether she will be able to hold on to the job at City Hall.  This time, it appears, politicians from the government and opposition are determined that there is no gridlock at KCCA. The Minister for Kampala, Frank Tumwebaze, has told The Independent that all leaders in the city must appreciate that Kampala changed from a district to a city authority and the way it is managed also changed, writes Haggai Matsiko.

Frank Tumwebaze

Kampala is now managed as capitals are managed world over,” Tumwebaze said, “managing it requires putting in place reforms and some will be good and others bad either for formalised traders like KACITA (Kampala City Traders Association) or non-formalised traders.”

Commenting on the impasse between him and the KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi on one side and embattled Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Tumwebaze said focus should be on developing Kampala.

“Issues of Kampala are not about individuals,” he said.

In another related move, members of the national parliament representing constituencies within KCCA have formed a caucus, the Kampala City Parliamentary Caucus, to push for action.

The body’s leader, Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala told The Independent that the caucus is looking into how they can work under a “hybrid kind of government”.

“99 % of the leadership in Kampala is opposition,” Ssebaggala told The Independent, “but the president belongs to the ruling party. So, we have to look into how to work together to serve the people of Kampala better.”

He says that both the leaders and President Museveni have got to appreciate that simply because they do not support each other, it does not mean that they cannot work together on developmental issues.

“President Museveni has to understand that these leaders were elected by people and find ways to let them serve their mandate,” Ssebaggala said, “this business of you did not support me, so I cannot work with you does not work. People elected leaders because those are the leaders they wanted and they want services from those leaders.”

Ssebaggala said the lack of accountability at KCCA is a major concern.

“You cannot come up with a budget when there is no authority elected by the people?” he said, “there are no divisions, there are no councilors, MPs are not there, whose budget are they bringing if they have not consulted the people of Kawempe?”

Given that almost all Kampala MPs belong to the opposition, it goes without saying that they want to give support to their opposition colleague, embattled Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.

KCCA graphic

As she marks her five-year milestone, Musisi therefore, appears not to enjoy the luxury of gloating over her achievements and must, instead confront even tougher challenges. She must contend with a re-loaded version of her antagonist, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago who was recently re-elected. For now, however, Lukwago remains locked out of office. For Musisi, however, the reprieve is temporal and Lukwago May swearing-in date is just weeks away.

Lukwago was on Feb.24 re-elected as Lord Mayor with a whopping 75% of the vote. He polled 176,637 votes about four times those got by his National Resistance Movement (NRM) counterpart Daniel Kazibwe who garnered 49,366 votes. The Democratic Party (DP) Flag bearer, Issa Kikungwe trailed them with 7,759.

But Musisi got a taste of the next phase of battles on April 6, when she and other senior KCCA officials appeared before parliament to seek approval for the authority’s budget. The major question she was confronted with was why Lukwago was not in office. During the session with parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee, the authority’s Deputy Director for Legal Affairs, Charles Ouma, said a court injunction against Lukwago means that he cannot assume office yet.

But Aruu County MP Odonga Otto, who is a member of the committee, advised KCCA to explore solutions to the impasse.

“This political problem must end one way or the other,” he told the KCCA officials.

Lukwago has also scoffed at the High Court injunction issued against him by Justice Steven Kavuma as expired.

“You cannot keep renewing an interim order,” Lukwago says, “It does not act in perpetuity.”

That is in reference to a court order that has kept Lukwago out of office for two years even after court quashed his purported impeachment by the KCCA parliament over non-performance.

The impeachment and blockade was the climax of Lukwago’s three year stand-off with Musisi that rotated around who between them should, among other issues, call the shots at KCCA. The turf fight started immediately when they both assumed office in 2011.

While President Museveni and later Tumwebaze, shielded Musisi and even helped her get rid of Lukwago, the odds now seem stark against her.

In what seemed like a capitulation, KCCA issued a statement later stating that it was not blocking Lukwago. Instead, it said the authority had advised all leaders who were elected to political offices in Kampala during the recently concluded elections conducted by the Electoral Commission that they shall assume office upon swearing in.

But the Lord Mayor now cannot wait to get to office, and may stage posturing antics to make that point. He has said that his team is already in charge and that they will ensure they access the offices. Lukwago’s tone is clear; he is ready to start his fight for accountability where he stopped. And unlike in the past, he is returning with more force.

Unlike his previous mandate, when he had to navigate a ruling NRM party-dominate KCCA council, this time around the council is literally full of councilors from his opposition camp.

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