Wednesday March 16 2011

What new city executives will do

By Benon Herbert Oluka


When the newly elected Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago takes up the reins of leadership at City Hall later this year, he will encounter a vastly changed administrative structure in the capital.

The new structure, which is contained in the Kampala Capital City Act, 2010, reduces the mayor to a largely ceremonial political head of the capital and transfers the pragmatic stewardship of Kampala to the hands of a an executive director who will be expressly appointed by the President. But what will be the respective roles of the Kampala Capital City Authority, the Executive Director (and the deputy), as well as the Lord Mayor (and the deputy)?

According to the Kampala Capital City Act, 2010, which President Museveni signed on December 28, the authority will replace the council and will consist of similar councillors as in the old arrangement.
However, the Authority will also include one councillor representing four professional bodies. The four bodies are Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers, Uganda Society of Architects, Uganda Medical Association and Uganda Law Society.

Some of the functions of the authority include initiating and formulating policy, setting service delivery standards, determining taxation levels and monitoring the general administration and provision of services.

The new law says the functions of the mayor include being the political head of the capital city, presiding over all the meetings of the Authority, performing ceremonial functions and civic functions, hosting foreign and local dignitaries, monitoring the administration of the capital city, providing guidance to the division administrators, and heading the authority in developing strategies and programmes for the development of Kampala. “The Lord Mayor shall, in the performance of his or her functions, be answerable to the Authority and the Minister (of Local Government),” says the Act. However, Mr Lukwago has already said he does not intend to merely play a passive role in the administration of Kampala.

The executive director, who will supervise Mr Lukwago and be at the rank of permanent secretary of a government ministry, will head the public service in the Authority as well be the head of the administration of the authority, including divisions and wards.

Public administration analysts, however, say the new arrangement is counterproductive. According to Mr Isaac Magoola, a political scientist with vast experience in public administration and management, the new law kills the spirit of decentralisation since it will cripple an elected mayor. “If you elect a person and he does not have the capacity to perform, then what is the purpose of the election? Once you tie the hands of the leadership of the council, then the entire council is dead,” he said.

The functions of the executive director include working as accounting officer of the authority, advising the mayor and authority on government policy, presenting the annual budget of the Authority and advising the Authority on technical, administrative and legal matters pertaining to the management of the Authority.

Others include implementing the lawful decisions taken by the authority, overseeing the delivery of quality services and taking remedial action where service delivery standards are below the expected minimum standards.

The new law also gives the central government the responsibility of constructing and maintaining all roads and streetlights in Kampala. With the administration of Kampala having been parcelled out to different entities of the central government, Mr Lukwago’s work will be cut out in the way he curves out a role for himself to bring about the kind of changes that the 64.41 per cent of Kampala’s voters expect of him.