The real story behind
Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E. NANTABA | Events that led Jennifer Musisi, the Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to offer to resign appear to have climaxed on Oct. 05.
But when The Independent interviewed her soon after she announced her resignation, Musisi insisted on the official line she has chosen to explain her resignation.
“Resignation is normal,” she said.
In reality, resignation from the top levels in Museveni’s government and a top in the country Shs45 million salary per month, plus prestige and numerous perks is nothing normal. So The Independent pressed Musisi to explain the real reason. She yielded – a bit; saying she would reveal more at a later date maybe in November.
But a lot can be gathered from the days before Musisi’s announcement; especially from events of Oct.05.
On that day, Musisi’s boss, President Yoweri Museveni toured markets and taxi and bus parks and interacted with huge crowds in these pockets of the city population.
During Museveni’s tour, the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija who Museveni constantly referred to as the “the money man” tagged along as the President doled out the bags of cash to various individuals, groups, and causes. According to one estimate, he dished out about Shs3 billion.
He gave money to market vendors, taxi operators, women’s groups, groups of the disabled, and shopkeepers. It was clear that, for Museveni, the campaign to retake the city from the opposition in the next elections in 2021 had started. And Musisi had become unwanted baggage.
According to informed sources, Museveni has lately refused requests from Musisi for a meeting. She has been locked out. That is a major shift from the past when the two used to schmooze as they toured the city.
And on Oct.05 Museveni also made many pledges. However, for Musisi who also tagged along, two Museveni pledges must have stood out. The first was Museveni’s pledge to ensure that market vendors claw back titles for markets that have been taken over by tycoons in the city. The second was to do with revamping city bus transport in the city. Musisi has not been enthusiastic about these two projects over her seven-year tenure.
Regarding the markets, especially the biggest –Balikuddembe aka Owino, the vendors see Musisi as a saboteur of their ownership ambitions and have sued KCCA in the Kampala High Court. The Owino vendors argue that before Musisi was appointed in 2011, they had agreed with her predecessors over leasing the land the market sits on for Shs4.2 billion. Under their vendors association, they borrowed the money and paid. But by then Musisi was in charge and she flatly told them that KCCA had no land to offer them. Therefore, Museveni’s pledge on Oct.05 to repay the vendors’ bank loan, rescue the market land, and hand it over to the vendors was a slap across Musisi’s face.
On the buses, Musisi has not acted on a major demand by city transporter; Pioneer Easy Bus for exclusive taxi free lanes. Musisi’s failure is blamed for Pioneer’s woes that saw the company fall under the auctioneer’s hammer in 2013 over unpaid arrears of Shs8.5 billion owed to the Uganda Revenue Authority. Only Museveni’s intervention saved that company, which has since them limped on without much prospect.
According to some analysts, Museveni’s offer to revamp Pioneer was a misreading of the city transport situation. But it added another knot in the rope around Musisi. The city transport sector has been a major headache for Musisi since, it appears her nemesis; the KCCA Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago is the de-facto patron of the main operators. The taxi operators blame Musisi for clipping the wings of the once powerful Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA). They claim she brought the Pioneer Buses to chase them out of business. Musisi also drew the wrath of politicians and business people in the boda boda motorcycle business when she attempted to tax and regulate it. They accused her of attempting to kick them out of the city. Most of these accusations are falsehood but Musisi haters are not in a hurry to correct them. And Museveni had joined them.
Mafia damage Musisi?
The events of Oct.05 were the latest in a series of events at which Museveni has rolled Musisi in the mud. The most reported about happened in late March 2016; soon after the general elections. Museveni whose NRM had received a major drabbing in the Kampala mayoral elections, called a soul-searching meeting at his country home in Rwakitura. He invited party leaders from the city, councilors, vendors, and other cadres. Soon, however, it became a drag-Musisi-in-the- mud day. The NRM loss was blamed on Musisi’s no-nonsense administration of the city. According to the NRM losers, Musisi had turned voters against NRM.