Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Kampala Capital City Authority Speaker Abubaker Kawalya has declined to convene a council sitting to fill positions on the Kampala District Land Board after the Minister for Kampala vetoed appointment of two members over allegations of fraudulent land transactions.
Kawalya says there is an ongoing court matter and if KCCA were to intervene, it would be in contempt of court and decisions taken could be challenged.
KCCA started the process of appointing new members of the Land board in 2020 after the tenure of the former board expired. The names were received by the City Executive Committee chaired by the Lord Mayor for consideration before forwarding to the council for approval.
However, as the process was ongoing, a citizen identified as Anatolius Byakora went to court challenging the names submitted to KCCA. The applicant hence sought a court injunction staying status quo meaning that no appointments were to be made until the main application is heard.
But in June 2020, the council went ahead to discuss the matter and passed a seven member board comprising of David Balondemu (chairperson), Teopista Ntale Sekitto, Nasser Basajjabalaba, Christine Kawooya, Moses Kamoga, Hussein Kato and Joseph Anguria.
This prompted Byakora to file another application against KCCA and the Speaker Abubaker Kawalya for contempt of court. Consequently, he won the case and KCCA and the speaker were fined. The Speaker alone paid 10 million shillings. The matter was later settled through a consent agreement and the case was closed.
KCCA thus repeated the process to pass the same names in council in November 2020. No sooner had they endorsed the board than the Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs Betty Amongi deferred appointment of two of the members, Moses Kamoga and Nasser Basajjabalaba over allegations of fraudulent land transactions. The two went to court and in December 2020, secured a court injunction staying status quo and hence keeping them on the board.
The Minister wrote another letter to the Executive Director of KCCA vetoing the appointment of the two members and directing that they do not conduct any board activities.
The duo went back to court to challenge that decision too. They also secured a court injunction in February 2021 that stopped KCCA and the Minister from changing status quo.
Last month, a Councilor from Nakawa Moses Okwera Mugisha raised a matter in council demanding that the two positions be filled because the names given were vetoed by the Minister. Mugisha petitioned the office of the Speaker over the same but the speaker declined to discuss a matter still in court because it could amount to prejudice.
“We cannot discuss a matter before court. I have fallen victim to this and had to pay large sums of money,” said KCCA Speaker Abubaker Kawalya in one of the heated council sittings held last month.
To compel him, Councilor Okwera led a team of 17 councilors to petition the Minister for Kampala Betty Amongi over the matter. They argued that Nakawa Division and Kawempe Division are not represented on the board since the appointment of their representatives was vetoed by the Minister. They say, this is in contravention of section 57 of the Land Act that provides for representation from atleast one County of a district. They added that this also disenfranchises people from the two divisions.
“Therefore, we the undersigned LC 5 Councilors of Kampala Capital City Authority hereby respectfully petition your office for immediate and urgent intervention with guidance as to the resolution of this matter by filling the two Kampala District Land Board (KDLB) membership positions for Nakawa County/Division and Kawempe County/Division” reads the petition in part.
In response, the Minister last week wrote to the Speaker of KCCA asking him to include the matter on the order paper to enable Council to discuss it and take decision.
“Cognizant that the 17 Councilors who petitioned would like the two vacant posts to be filed immediately, it would be prudent to include the matter as a substantive agenda to be considered rather than as a matter of public importance. This will enable council to discuss the matter substantially and resolve it,” wrote the Minister
She argues that she has powers to veto a decision and this can only be expunged by a court decision which she says isn’t there.
In his response, the Speaker has insisted on his position to not discuss a matter before court until court determines the case before it. He says the veto that happened on 10th February 2021, that Minister is talking about was expunged in a court injunction of 19 February 2021. The injunction stayed status quo until the main case by the two members of the board is heard.
“My view therefore is that we wait for the final determination of the matters in court and if court pronounces itself that the said two members were illegally appointed as members of the board, council will immediately proceed and conduct proceedings not have the positions filled,” responded Kawalya before adding that he is unable in the meantime to implement the directions contained in the minister’s letter.
Currently, the district land board continues to conduct business with five members of the committee which is the minimum number of members that can sit on the board.