Monday March 31 2014

Lukwago preaches Unity in short stay at City Hall

By Farahani Mukisa

At 8.40am yesterday, Mr Erias Lukwago’s three-car convoy closely followed by a police patrol pick-up truck pulled up at the official Lord Mayor’s parking slot at City Hall in Kampala. Jumping out of his sporty Land Rover with an aide holding the door, Mr Lukwago cast a figure of a victorious man.

With a wide smile, he engaged in small talk with his team that comprised the deputy Lord Mayor, Mr Sulaiman Kidandala, councillor Allan Sewanyana and his legal adviser Medard Ssegona. “I am fully gratified that Omuloodi waali (or the ‘Lord Mayor is around’),” Mr Lukwago, who was wearing a black suit and matching orange necktie, was overheard telling his team.

Minutes later, the group trooped to the Mayor’s Parlour, where Mr Lukwago’s office is located. Unlike his team, the mayor did not go through the regular security checks. Seeming unbothered by the dusty surroundings, Mr Lukwago entered his office. He, however, refused to sit in the black leather sofa-set, saying the office needed divine cleansing.

After a 30-minute wait, Sheikh Uthman Mulindwa arrived, without a Koran but with a phone and a notebook. After a prayer of about two minutes, the Lord Mayor assumed his official chair. But this was after displaying to journalists a white cock that he said would be slaughtered to celebrate his return.

For a man whose troubles have been partly attributed to his reported intolerance of divergent views, Mr Lukwago im mediately struck a conciliatory tone.

“Let’s put the daggers aside and merge synergies to develop Kampala,” he told a bevy of journalists amidst clicks of cameras. “I harbour no ill intention against anyone and this is the message I have for antagonists who threw daggers at me.” To the councillors who orchestrated his ouster in November last year, Mr Lukwago held out an olive branch.

“Please come back to work because we have a duty to deliver to the people of Kampala and time is not on our side,” he said. The humility, however, seemed to have been short-lived. The next statement was delivered in a boisterous tone. “This is a historical moment in the history of Kampala.

I came with a mission at City Hall to turn around things and improve Kampala and I am steadfast to deliver that. It has been a strenuous protracted legal battle but at least we are close to the apex,” he said, thumping his chest.

“I want President Museveni to appreciate the fact that although I am in the Opposition, I am not an enemy of the State.”
Quipping in, Mr Ssegona wondered why Kampala minister Frank Tumwebaze and KCCA Executive Director, Mr Jennifer Musisi, were not present to welcome Mr Lukwago. “In a civilised world, we would expect Mr Tumwebaze and Ms Musisi to welcome Mr Lukwago, we hope it will happen soon,” he said.

The KCCA acting supervisor communication and media, Mr Robert Kalumba, however, said Ms Musisi was at Kololo, attending a rally convened by the anti-gay movement. At about 10.30am, the Lord Mayor left his office apparently to go and attend to pressing legal matters.

Hours later, news filtered through that Justice Steven Kavuma of the Court of Appeal had reversed an earlier decision of the High Court that had reinstated the Lord Mayor. This meant that Lukwago’s celebration had been cut short. By last evening, the Lord Mayor’s lawyers were still at the Supreme Court, seeking to quash Justice Kavuma’s directive. As it seemed the white cock might not just face the knife yet.