By Morris DC Komakech
Shows how the NRM’s centrist politics undermines the foundation of national sanity
The tension rising now in Kampala over the Justice Catherine Bamugemeriere’s report was expected. The KCCA/Tumwebaze Tribunal manufactured prima facie “facts” of misconduct, abuse of office and incompetence upon which the Kampala City Council Authority Councilors can now expurgate Kampala’s elected Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, from office.
Justice Catherine Bamugemeriere and all the judges who have before her come forward to do this kind of noose-man’s job must be applauded for their futile efforts at murdering justice. However, the KCCA Tribunal report is itself incompetent in establishing prima facie grounds of “incompetence” in reference to Erias Lukwago.
By upholding this report, the NRM through its operatives will be conceding to the fact that incompetence, rather than competence, is the new vision for NRM. After all, the pervasive vice of incompetence that dogs each and every public office under the NRM is visible in KCCA and in the incomplete KCCA tribunal report itself.
The legacy of this report, and that of its’ authors resides not on the influence of the “findings” of the prima facie grounds to impeach the Lord Mayor, rather, on their susceptibility to the politics that compromised their integrity.
The online Meridian-Webster dictionary defines the English word “incompetence” as “lack of the ability to do something well: the quality of state of not being competent”. Accordingly, the KCCA tribunal decided that Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago lacks the “ability” and integrity to dispense his duties as proscribed in the KCCA act. This “ability” evidently was affected by the politics surrounding KCCA that stifled the Lord Mayor.
Crucially and suspiciously, the Tribunal did not pronounce themselves sufficiently on the attendant causes of KCCA problems which makes the report incomplete.
This article is about the superficiality and the political undertone that shrouds these findings. To find Lukwago “incompetent” of running KCCA is the most political declaration in spite of available facts.
Obviously, the Tribunal found themselves under enormous pressure to yield to dictated conclusions. Had the Tribunal approached the Lukwago issue with due diligence and utmost impartiality, they could have established that the main causes of the ongoing confusion at KCCA are embedded in its current construct. This makes KCCA impossible to run especially with an outnumbered opposition leadership.
The root of Kampala’s problems starts and ends with those who wrote the KCCA Act. This Act failed to discern in certain terms, divisions of authority and resulting operational relationships between the political and non-political entities.
That failure provides a recipe for over-stepping boundaries between bureaucrats and politicians, making Kampala City simply ungovernable.
In a properly designed and constituted KCCA, Ms Jennifer Musisi – the Executive Director – should have been given powers limited to the level of Permanent Secretary in a ministry and key advisory role to the Lord Mayor. Her position as the top most technical city bureaucrat should have steered clear of any political prying. Musisi should be a resource to the Council, not an antagonist.
Because of this lack of boundaries, the detriments of excessive powers have subsumed Jennifer Musisi. Her superintendent ego then set the ground to escalate the polarisation and the hostile working environment to defeat, rather than ally with the Lord Mayor.
This kind of rather bizarre power arrangement is unheard of in any modern metropolitan cities that creators of KCCA wish to model Kampala after. Unless this obvious discrepancy is resolved, KCCA will never have any harmonious workings.
The other obvious problem of Kampala is politics. Definitely President Yoweri Museveni would rather see former mayor Nasser Ssebagala run Kampala down, into potholes, than see a strong, elite, educated, modern and conscious opposition figure make successful strides in Kampala. Kampala and Lukwago are targeted by the NRM purely for political reasons.
Evidence shows that previous Kampala mayors and top bureaucrats who came before Ssebaana Kizito and Ssebagala were sympathetic to the NRM. Even during their tenure, Kampala suffered similar dysfunction and decay. Kampala even had outbreaks of deadly cholera, chronic potholes, slums, high crime rates, flooding sewers, filth and dirt as well as every recurrent problem we see now.
Honestly, KCCA has had a rather unique opportunity in attracting two very highly educated, brilliant, and experienced persons, both in politics and public management. Kampala could benefit enormously from exploiting the positive synergies between the Lord Mayor and the Chief Executive officer. But President Museveni has this peculiar obsession with sleepy leaders and carpetbaggers. The Visionary would rather have the likes of Seeyas run the city than the Lukwagos.
In summary, the problem of “incompetence” is an inherent trait of the NRM operations that subverts development. This regime has chosen to operate in the informal over formal institutions. This enables it to handle public affairs unjustly without accountability. What constitutes politics therefore lies in advancing, defending and legitimising its excesses. This explains the paradox that NRM/ government spokespersons endure.
They are compelled to tell some of the most stupid lies or denials against the body of every truth. Good judges are forced by circumstances to make political decisions rather than legally plausible and just ones. In the end, honest men and women are transformed into dishonest people; competent operators are inadvertently made incompetent; criminals are praised and innocent people punished; theft is rewarded and hard work scorned.
If you think my analyses are far-fetched, then try to recollect on current cases against the Attorney General, Peter Nyombi vs Uganda Law Society; reflect deeply on the previous GAVI, Global Fund, NUSAF/Office of the Prime Minister scandals. Try to listen critically to any government spokesperson speaking or writing in defence of the regime, or follow the performance audit of any of the councilors accusing Lukwago of incompetence.
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.
Morris Komakech is a Uganda social critic and political analyst based in Canada. Can contact via firstname.lastname@example.org