Government has laid down guidelines to usher in the seven new cities which became operational yesterday.
The seven cities of Arua, Gulu, Mbale, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal and Masaka kicked off operations on Tuesday, with both excitement and controversy over their leadership.
District chairpersons and municipal mayors have spent the larger part of the last months, haggling over who should take over the interim leadership of the new cities.
Whereas the Ministry of Local Government says interim leaders will be elected to run the new cities until general elections in February, the Electoral Commission (EC) says there will be no such elections.
Funds. "We got a certificate of financial implication from the Ministry of Finance and it indicated that we will need an extra Shs1.5b for every city. For now let’s work with what we have in the [2020/2021] Budget. Government will look into any necessary adjustments in the budgetary areas in case there is need,” Mr Raphael Magyezi, Local Government minister.
We profile some of the key players who have worked behind the scenes to make this dream a reality.
Mr Majid Batambuze, Mayor Jinja city
Mr Majid Batambuze, 50, is the interim Mayor of Jinja City and chairperson of Urban Authorities Association of Uganda (UAAU). UAAU is a union of all cities, municipalities and towns of Uganda and advocates equitable and sustainable urban development. Mr Batambuze is an NRM politician and businessman who has as previously worked as RDC for Budaka.
Lydia Wanyoto, chairperson of the NRM Women League
She is one of the leaders of Bugisu Sub-region who pressed for Mbale Municipality to be included in the first lot of towns to be elevated to a city status in May, 2019. This was necessitated after Cabinet postponed the elevation of Mbale to city status until 2021. Ms Wanyoto also pushed a group of youth leaders from the region to travel to Kampala to petition the Speaker over the matter.
Mutwalibi Zandya Mafabi, mayor of Mbale Town
He has been on the forefront of championing at the city status since 2011.
His leadership has seen Mbale Town steadily regaining its glory as the cleanest town in East Africa. The roads have been tarmacked, solar street and traffic lights installed, among other developments.
Jack Wamai Wamanga, MP for Mbale Municipality
He has been vocal in reminding the government to grant Mbale a city status. He has also been a critic of rampant corruption in Mbale Town.
Connie Galiwango, Woman MP Mbale District
She organised a protest in Mbale town against the postponement of elevating Mbale to a city and was arrested for leading an illegal protest.
Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II
He added his voice to demand that Masaka becomes a city. He questioned the criteria used to select the first new cities, saying Masaka would have been one of those since it has all the qualification to become a city. A few days later, government changed its position.
John Behangane, town clerk
He has served local governments since 1989, first as an urban officer in Bundibugyo District (1989) before being transferred to Mpigi District in 1990 to work in the same position.
He later went to the Netherlands to study for a Master Degree in Regional Development and Planning and graduated in 1991.
He was posted to Kayunga as a town clerk in 1992 and later in 2000 , he was posted to Sembabule District as chief administrative officer. Between 2003 to 2004, he worked as a consultant at Uganda Management Institute.
In 2005 to 2010, he was appointed secretary general Urban Authorities Association of Uganda (UAAU). He also briefly worked as deputy town clerk of Kampala City and was later posted to Mukono ,Gulu,Kasese, Makindye/ Ssabagabo, Masindi and now Masaka .
Godfrey Kayemba, mayor Masaka City
Mr Godfrey Kayemba Afaayo is serving his second and last term of office.He has been at the forefront of advocating elevation of Masaka to city status, sometimes clashing with the district chairperson, Mr Jude Mbabaali, who wanted the entire district to become a city. He now eyes a parliamentary seat in the newly created Kimaanya –Kabonera Constituency.
Despite being a member of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change, Mr Afaayo is credited for creating a good working relationship and it is during his tenure that the town received some solar -powered street lights. However, his administration has failed to raise enough revenue to pay monthly electricity bills. The lights are switched on during major public holidays or when the President visits the area.
Irene Nantongo, Municipal Speaker
She is also a female councilor representing Kyabakuza Parish in Kimaanya/ Kyabakuza Division and presided over all sitting pushing for elevation of town to city.
She is serving her second term as a councilor having joined politics in 2011.
Jude Mbabaali, Masaka District chairperson
He has been at the forefront of fighting for elevation of Masaka to city.
At first when government had decided to consider only six municipalities, he filed a law suit in High Court, demanding an explanation from government why Masaka was not being elevated to city status, despite providing all necessary requirements .
Denis Majwala Lukanga, chairperson Katwe /Butego Division
Between 2001 to 2011, he was elected a youth councillor at the division. In 2011, he was re-elected as youth councillor and also became the speaker for the division.
In 2016, he contested for the division chairperson seat and defeated three others.
Sarah Nakyanzili, Deputy mayor
She has represented Butego Parish in the council since 2006. She is also the NRM district secretary. Ms Nakyanzi previously served as the inspector of schools in Masaka District during the reign of Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the current Agriculture minister.
Kalsum Abdu, Deputy Mayor
She is instrumental in talking to market vendors to do organised business in the city.
She advocates the elevation of Oli Health Centre IV to a hospital in order to decongest Arua Regional Referral Hospital.
Ms Abdu says upgrading the health centre in the division will uplift the health status of the locals because more services will be offered at the hospital.
Hajj Issa Kato
Hajj Issa Kato, is the Municipal mayor who has been instrumental in steering the development and preparations for a city status.
Christopher Kawesi, Municipal Town Clerk
He has been at the forefront of planning for the city. He is supervising the proper utilisation of USMID funds and other transfers to the city.
Fort Portal City
The Rev Willy Kintu Muhanga Ateenyi, Mayor
He is the first reverend to hold this post and one of the youngest mayors. He was elected as mayor in 2016 and is serving his term in maiden politics.
He has been instrumental in achieving the vision of Fort Portal becoming a tourism city.
In 2019, he openly told President Museveni that he would only back the President in 2021 elections if he granted Fort Portal a city status.
Ms Dorothy Lubaale Kaliba Amooti, Deputy Mayor
Ms Amooti has been a seasoned politician in the area since 1994 and has held various political posts in Boma West and Nyabukara in Fort Portal Town as the vice chairperson LCI and II before she was elected as a councillor to represent her area in the municipal council in 1996. Since 1996, she has been in Fort Portal municipal council and has served under three mayors in different capacities.
Innocent Ahimbisibwe, Town Clerk Fort Portal City
He has served local since 1998 as assistant town clerk Mbarara Municipal Council before he was promoted to senior town clerk in 2012 in the same council. In 2012 to 2015, he was promoted to the rank of town clerk and served at Mukono Municipality before he was transferred to Kabale from 2015-2017. He also worked as town clerk in Kasese District from 2017 to 2018.
Gilbert Kayondo, speaker Fort Portal City
A youthful and energetic Kayondo has been the speaker since 2016. Before that, he represented Kasusu Parish in Fort Portal Municipal Council for five years. He is the chairperson of the Youth League for Kabarole District. He holds a Certificate and Diploma in Public Administration and is pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration.
Theo Tibihika, Town Clerk
Mr Theo Tibihika is the Town Clerk. He was posted to Mbarara in May after retirement of Mr Francis Barabanawe. He worked to bring together all the stakeholders in the city.
He has presided over stakeholder engagements, communicating the plans that leadership has for the city residents and collecting their views for consideration in planning. He was from Rukungiri Municipal Council where he was serving at town clerk. Mr Tibihika, who hails from Ntungamo District, has also served in Ntungamo Municipal Council and KCCA.
Robert Mugabe, Mayor Mbarara City
His role in creating the city has been to rally councillors and technocrats to work as a team.
The council had for some time been chocked by conflicts between and within councillors and technocrats related to corruption and poor management.
Kakyebezi was born in Kakibaaya, Kebisoni Sub county Rukungiri District, in1974. He worked at Radio West until he was elected NRM flag bearer for the Mbarara mayoral seat on October 28, 2015 and as Mayor in 2016.
He is married and lives in Kisenyi, Kakoba Division Mbarara.
Martine Ojara Mapenduzi, chairperson of Gulu District
The district chairperson of Gulu District is serving his second term. Before that, he was the speaker of the Gulu District local government.
Betty Aol Ocan, Gulu Woman MP
She is the Leader of Opposition. She is serving her third term as Woman MP Gulu district.He has been at the forefront in advocating for a city status.
Mr Norbert Mao, DP president
He is the former district chairman and former MP, is an icon of the area. He was instrumental in trying to bridge the peace LRA rebels and the Ugandan.
Compiled by Felix Basiime, Felix Warom Okello, Fred Wambede, and Denis Edema.