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KCCA’s crippling wrangles

By Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi

Executive Director in midst of several legal and personal battles

In an attempt to stamp her authority on matters at City Hall, critics are accusing Kampala Capital City Executive Director (KCCA) Jennifer Musisi of using unorthodox means. Complaints have as a result been made to the President, Public Service Commission and Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura about officers working under Musisi.

The one most complained about is Jacob Lukambuzi, who they say is Musisi’s point man at KCCA. Lukambuzi has been accused by senior officers at KCCA of “illegally” interrogating them and soliciting bribes from them to drop charges.

Few at City Hall understand Lukambuzi’s true identity. Kampala District Land Board Chairman Yusuf Nsibambi refused to talk to Lukambuzi over the disputes involving the land board, saying “I cannot subject myself to a P.7 dropout”. Musisi told The Independent that Lukambuzi is an Officer II, in the “category of diploma holders.”

But when Lukambuzi talked to us, he said he is a “counter-intelligence” officer with “a lot of information about KCCA.” Lukambuzi said he worked with former intelligence boss Noble Mayombo and had other intelligence engagements. But what cannot be missed is his lack of formal schooling. When we talked to him, he struggled to express himself in English.

Another thing which is clear is that Musisi trusts him a lot. “He is able to get a lot of information for us,” said Musisi, “there are not many people you can trust (to do it).” Musisi said Lukambuzi helped her in evicting former Kampala Mayor Nasser Ssebaggala from a KCCA house that he had refused to vacate and “he is able to approach the grassroots and get information for us.” Musisi says, however, that Lukambuzi’s job will “soon be advertised to get a qualified person.”

Lukambuzi works as the head of the Monitoring Unit at KCCA and his operations have attracted various accusations from senior officials at KCCA.

The complaints

Michael Mudanye, a former senior solid waste engineer at KCCA petitioned the President on October 14 last year, accusing Lukambuzi of harassing him and demanding money from him.

In response to Mudanye’s petition to the President, a November 15, 2011 letter signed by Bashir Kalenge on behalf of the principal private secretary to the President asked the commandant of Police’s Land Protection Unit to investigate the complaint. Mudanye says he has never heard from the unit.

But before resigning from KCCA, Mudanye got a chance to put his complaints to Musisi in a November 14, 2011 meeting. Mudanye had, on September 29, 2011, submitted a two months notice of resignation, citing harassment by Lukambuzi. Mudanye had been accused of causing financial loss to KCCA by failing to disclose that there were squatters on land the former KCC had bought to build a new landfill for waste disposal at Kiteezi.

Mudanye told Musisi that Lukambuzi had kept calling him during work hours, threatening him with arrest unless he gave him money. Mudanye said he was innocent and if anybody felt he had committed a crime, they should arrest and prosecute him.

The land, located adjacent to the Kiteezi landfill, was bought at Shs 180 million in 2007. There were no squatters and the land was declared free of any encumbrances. The purchase agreement also stated that the seller would compensate any squatters found on the land at the time of sale.

But shortly after the purchase, small buildings sprung up.

Mudanye told Musisi that he alerted former Town Clerk Ruth Kijjambu of the buildings and she sent enforcement officers who broke down the houses.  Immediately afterwards, KCC was hit with 28 claims for compensation. While Mundaye had warned that they be rejected, he said, the former administration went ahead and paid them. Musisi continued with the payments when she came in.

By the time Mudanye wrote his complaint to the President, at least Shs 264 million had been paid to “squatters” in compensation, Shs 26m of it paid under Musisi.

Mudanye complained that Lukambuzi had taken advantage of the investigations to try to extort money from him. He said Lukambuzi told him that the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had ordered his arrest. On checking with the IGG, Mudanye told Musisi, he found that the IGG wasn’t investigating the matter.

In the meeting, Musisi offered to withdraw the case file against Mudanye which had been taken to the DPP for sanctioning. She called Lukambuzi and asked him to pick up the file, but the officer at the DPP’s office refused to release it.

But Musisi now says the case against Mudanye has been reinstated. “The investigation had left out some vital information which was later included. I recalled the file, read through it and got a broader view,” Musisi said.

Mudanye, who now does “private work,” told The Independent that he will be “very glad to be called upon to answer the charges.”

Musisi says she now has 60 criminal cases that will soon be prosecuted.

Enter the Land Board

But probably the fiercest accusations against Lukambuzi have come from members of the Kampala District Land Board. Board Chairman Nsibambi has been entangled in a fierce fight for his job since Musisi took over at KCCA in March 2011.

Nsibambi, whose board has been involved in a highly publicised dispute with Musisi for control over city land, said in a May 17 letter to Kayihura that Lukambuzi had tried to extort money from him and other members of the land board.

He added that he and Land Board Secretary Sarah Kusiima had been summoned by Lukambuzi to “make statements on matters executed by the board without giving me or my secretary ample time to consult the respective files.”

He added that whereas he and his colleagues were willing to provide information to the police, they hadn’t been called upon to do so.

Nsibambi and Musisi have been involved in a battle for control of prime city land for the entire year the executive director has been in office. Musisi says the land board ceased to exist with the coming into force of KCCA. She argues that since Kampala is no longer a district, it cannot possibly have a ‘district land board’. The land board manages 14% of Kampala’s most prime land.

In June 2011, the Solicitor General backed Musisi and recommended that control of city land be turned over to the Uganda Land Commission, which holds the central government’s titles. But Nsibambi insisted that the land board is independent of KCCA, which is why it was not even mentioned in the KCCA Act. He argued that there must be a constitutional amendment, particularly Article 240 if the land board is to be removed.

Fight over Land Board secretary job

As Nsibambi refused to leave office, Musisi appears to have adopted a different approach to get a handle over the land board matters, particularly through seeking to replace the secretary to the board. Kusiima, the secretary, was accordingly sent on leave, to be replaced by a one Diana Nambi. A letter from the KCCA Director for Human Resources Jennifer Kaggwa informed Kusiima that she would be posted to another job later. When Kusiima, with Nsibambi’s backing, refused to leave office arguing that the manner of her transfer was irregular, she was told to vacate the office, to pave way for investigations into fraud in land transactions in the city.

Kusiima appealed to the Public Service Commission and went to court. The High Court slapped a temporary injunction on Kusiima’s removal from office until her case was heard on June 25. And Lukambuzi’s name sprung up again. Kusiima complained to the Public Service Commission, in a letter titled: “Harassment at my place of work and illegal arrest, torture and detention by KCCA operatives”.

She wrote that on May 16, one Patrick Mugisha, whom she had sent to pick her vehicle from the parking yard at KCCA, was stopped from accessing it by KCCA security guards and armed plain-clothed men, until he produced Kusiima. Kusiima, who says she had worked half-day and left office to see a doctor, told The Independent that her car was eventually released at 9.00 p.m. after her husband, Ntungamo Municipality Member of Parliament, Yona Musinguzi, intervened.

Kusiima later received police summons through KCCA’s director legal affairs, asking her to report to Room 312 at 10.00 a.m. on Friday, May 18. The summons was signed “for Paul Mugisha, the CID commander for Kampala Metropolitan Area”. Kusiima went to CPS instead of KCCA Room 312 and on reaching there Mugisha called one Festo, whom he said was investigating the case.“He (Festo) was later told to do whatever he had to do with me at CPS,” Kusiima wrote.But she says Festo didn’t ask her anything for about four hours until 3.00pm when he asked her go with him to her office because he wanted to search for information about Plot 2-6 Spring Road, Bugolobi.

But on reaching KCCA, Kusiima says she was taken to Director of Human Resources Kaggwa’s office where “one Caleb Mugisha, a prosecutor and an auditor from the internal auditor’s office and asked me to hand over office”.

Kusiima refused, and the officers later searched her office. She was later taken to Room 312 until 6.30 when she was told that she was under arrest and would be taken to CPS for detention.

Kusiima says that later that evening, at around 8.00pm, she was transferred to Kawempe Police Station, where she spent the night. The following morning she was picked by Festo, who told her they were going to CPS, only to end up in Room 312 at KCCA. From there, Kusiima says, she was told that she had forged the land title for Plot 2-6 Spring Road and that she would be detained until she told Festo who did it.

Kusiima says she told Festo that she joined the land board on August 2, 2010, yet the lease had been granted by a “fully constituted land board in March 2009”, more than a year before. Her only involvement in the transaction, she said, was to sign Form 8 and the lease agreements for the plot. She was later released on bond.

The land board now works in temporary offices provided by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago because their offices were sealed off by police as it investigates “fraud”. “They can investigate all they want,” said Nsibambi, “we are carrying on with our work because we are the only ones mandated to allocate and manage public land in Kampala.”Nsibambi says the land board is in no way under Musisi and that she commits a mistake by trying to control it. Musisi says, however, that various complaints about the “fraud in the land board” are brought to her office.

To accusations that Lukambuzi extorts money from officials, Musisi said: “The problem is that those people make allegations without providing any proof. They need to come to me with evidence, a cheque or something to prove that Lukambuzi has asked them for money so that I can also be able to act.”With the city beset by numerous infrastructural and social services problems that require urgent attention, it is not clear when all the internal wrangling will end so that KCCA can embark on the serious business of making Kampala a city that all Ugandans would be proud of.

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