Kampala set to get new Mayor

Tuesday September 25 2007






Six candidates are taking part in tomorrow's elections for a new mayor of Kampala; Nasser Sebaggala (independent), Peter Sematimba (independent), Hasib Takuba (Democratic Party), John Ssenseko Kulubya (independent), Wilson Kyambadde (NRM), and Dr Justin Naiga Sserwanga (independent).

All indications are that the contest is between Sebaggala, a businessman and former mayor of the city, and Sematimba, a radio owner and entrepreneur.

Sematimba, who lived in the United States for a couple of years, has promised to clean up the city.

The candidate, who is married with two daughters, owns a production company, Super FM radio station and a coffee farm in Bulemezi.

Sematimba says his success in business - he started and ran both Capital FM and CBS Radio before starting Super - shows he can run the city well.

Sematimba says he will clean the city and award tenders to low-income earners to help them grow rich. In late January, the candidate donated motorcycles worth Shs17.5 million to boda-boda cyclists in Old Kampala, giving him some mileage among the cyclists.

Sematimba's challenge has been to try and appear down-to-earth to many of the poorer voters in the city - a key Sebaggala constituency.

Sematimba says Kampala does not need a politician but needs a leader like him.

In the mayoral race, Sebaggala has been there, done that.

He ran and won in 1998, beating NRM candidate Christopher Iga, but was arrested in the US a few months later, convicted on fraud and money-laundering charges, and jailed for 9 months.

Sebaggala, a businessman who once ran one of the largest supermarkets in the city, returned a changed man.

He joined mainstream politics and tried to run for president in 2001, but was disqualified for not having the minimum academic requirements. He later went to England for an undisclosed course, and returned to run for president under the DP banner.

After losing the party primary to John Ssebaana Kizito - who had replaced him as mayor of Kampala - he decided to run as an independent, later pulling out in Ssebaana's favour to concentrate on the mayoral race.

Better welfare

Sebaggala says his mission is to improve the lives of the poor people living in Kampala, before embarking on cleaning the city. At one of his rallies, he was asked where he would get the funds from to fulfil his pledges.

"Don't bother me," he said. "I know how and where money can be generated from."

Sebaggala enjoys support among the 'Seya's' (low-class city residents) but has had to save his campaign from allegations that he is in cahoots with government - a politically suicidal position in a pro-opposition city.

Recently a document made the rounds in the city that Sebaggala had received Shs45 million from State House for his campaign and while both the candidate and State House denies the report, the damage to his fortunes is real.


Sebaggala says poverty is the biggest problem in the city and has promised to build new markets and expand existing ones if elected.

Takuba, the deputy mayor who has been in charge of the city while Ssebaana campaigned for president, is 44, married, and a Saudi Arabia and UK trained medical doctor.

He refused to stand down for Sebaggala on the DP ticket and says he has the experience to continue running the capital. He enjoys the campaign support of DP, which is quite formidable in the city.

However, he splits both the Muslim vote and the opposition vote with Sebaggala, and has to contend with criticism of how the city has been run in the last five years.

Takuba says he will concentrate on improving sanitation and curb traffic congestion. He has also promised to improve the city's drainage system and reclaim wetlands from illegal encroachers.

Kulubya, 70, is married with four children. The candidate is a wealthy businessman who owns plenty of real estate. Kulubya has run for mayor twice before and his father was the first post-independence mayor of Kampala.

He promises to use his wealth and experience to improve the conditions in the city but suffers from his posh-and-privileged image.

An engineer by training, Kulubya has promised to tarmac the roads in the city, fill in the potholes, provide clean water, create jobs and recycle garbage to create biogas and generate power from it.

Kyambadde, 58, heads the desk for the elderly in Kampala Central division. His wife, Amelia, is the Principal Private Secretary to President Yoweri Museveni, a factor that could weigh him down, rather than lift him in the race.

Kyambadde has pledged to introduce new garbage management methods, improve roads and fight floods through maintaining drainage channels.

He says he will work with the central government to secure more funds to run the city as well as create more jobs.

Dr Naiga, who owns two clinics in the city, says Kampala needs a doctor to avert the unhealthy situation. The candidate says the health of city residents has been affected by flooding, mismanagement of waste disposal and breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which cause malaria. She has promised to address all those problems, as well as urban poverty.

Pressing issues

Whoever wins the race will have to address the following issues:

• Poor tax revenue collections

• Fraudulent sale of city land

• Crime

• Conflicts with State House

• Unemployment

• Potholes

• Street lighting

• Traffic jams

• Uncollected garbage

• Flooded streets

• Street children

Additional reporting by Robert Mukomboozi and Ignatius Suuna