Commentary

Kampala city a victim of the mafia regime

Share Bookmark Print Rating
By Kizza Besigye

Posted  Friday, December 6  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

All city dwellers dream of living in a well-planned, well-managed, clean, beautiful and safe city. Even those city dwellers referred to (by conceited commentators) as riffraffs, ruffians, hooligans, vandals, and delinquents have dreams of a good life. It’s possible for all city dwellers to work and achieve their dreams together.

SHARE THIS STORY

It’s rather depressing, but hardly surprising, to see how debate on the Kampala City crisis has been skewed to mask the real problems. Unless we get the right diagnosis, we shall continue prescribing the wrong treatment.

All city dwellers dream of living in a well-planned, well-managed, clean, beautiful and safe city. Even those city dwellers referred to (by conceited commentators) as riffraffs, ruffians, hooligans, vandals, and delinquents have dreams of a good life. It’s possible for all city dwellers to work and achieve their dreams together.

There are two huge falsehoods that are being aggressively drummed up in respect of the crisis in Kampala city. First, that the mismanagement and failure of service delivery was due to failure of the city political leadership (especially from “opposition” DP party); hence the decision to put the city under control of the President.

Secondly, that Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has been undermining or obstructive to the worthy efforts of KCCA Executive Director and her “technical” staff to deliver goods and services desperately needed in the city. It’s the second falsehood that’s now depicted as “politicking”; hence the calls for de-politicising city management.

I contend that the root causes of the crisis in Kampala are: Colossal failure of planning and/or implementation of the scanty plans; massive rural-urban migration; very limited opportunities for employment or entrepreneurship; and underfunding; all of which are underpinned by systemic and massive corruption. These are, largely, problems that cannot be addressed by any management (political or technical) at the Kampala city level. They are all a result of national policies and governance.

Of the 27 years of NRM/ Museveni rule, 20 years were under the “Movement” system; where political party activities were proscribed. The political heads of Kampala city were the “Movement” District chairpersons. During the first 10 of the 20 years, Mr Museveni was both the President (Executive) and head of Parliament (Legislature).

Until three years ago, Kampala city (KCC) was overseen by the Ministry of Local Government, which was also responsible for appointment of the technical staff. Since three years ago, Kampala city (KCCA) was put under the direct control of the President.

Therefore, the elective political leadership of KCC/ KCCA has always been under the supervision of the Chief Executive, Mr Museveni; through his ministers or directly. No wonder that until Lord Mayor Lukwago, the elected “opposition- leaning” leaders of KCC were promptly co-opted by the NRM ruling clique (mafia). Hajj Nasser Ntege Ssebagala, the last mayor of KCC, moved on to become a “special” campaigner of Mr Museveni, aborted ministerial appointee and now Senior Adviser of the President.

Several of the major challenges facing Kampala city were either cultivated or nurtured by the NRM regime; more so, by Mr Museveni.

Mr Museveni directly sponsored many boda bodas. This was even a part of our electoral petition of 2001; Mr Museveni had “donated” bodas during the campaign. After the 2011 elections, he “donated” Shs500 million to a Sacco of Kampala bodas.

Thousands of the boda bodas were also recruited into security organisations. UTODA, the association of Taxi drivers and owners, became a militant arm of the NRM; making it difficult for any mass transportation strategy to evolve. Vendors, under the leadership of one Kagoro, were organised and supported by Mr Museveni. Most of the illegal structures were built with the support and protection of the NRM leaders etc.

I believe that the factors that motivated Mr Museveni to directly takeover KCC were the following:
Realising that through the market deals (Basajjabalaba and Col Mugyenyi), lucrative land transactions, KCC procurements etc a lot of cash could be generated that he didn’t control. Mr Museveni is very afraid of any sizeable amount of money made outside his direct control; in case it’s used to oppose him politically.

Embarrassment by the condition of his Capital city whenever he hosts foreign visitors, especially during high profile international meetings like Chogm. He’s also embarrassed by continuous comparisons between Kigali and Kampala. He wanted to increase funding to change the visage of the city and to maximise social, economic and political returns in doing so.

Anger over his humiliating electoral defeat in spite of doing everything humanly possible to get different results; including use of money, terror and cheating. Mr Museveni set out to take over Kampala completely using the new law of KCCA.

In the initial KCCA Bill, there was no elected Mayor; Kampala would be headed by his direct appointee. This hit a major Constitutional obstacle that seemed not to have been envisaged. The contradictions and major gaps in the KCCA Act arose from the improvisation of trying to remain within the constitutional framework but achieve their objective.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Next Page»