Lukwago: I have issues with Kamya but infighting at KCCA has reduced

Tuesday August 13 2019

My view. Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago at a

My view. Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago at a press conference last year. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By Franklin Draku

Shortly after Jennifer Musisi resigned, you said you embarked on harmonising relations between the political and technical wings at City Hall, what is the progress?
I made a pronouncement that we are going to streamline the operations of KCCA. Hitherto KCCA was not operating as an institution; it operated like one man’s affair. Immediately upon her departure, I set out to reverse that trend. She left on December 15; that was a festive season and we had to start in earnest in early January.

So what have you achieved since then?
We are posting positive results. We have had several meetings. Previously we had not had these organs sitting. We had to have a mechanism where each of us had to do our responsibilities without interfering in each other’s work. Each of us keeping in our respective lanes, especially in regards to the Lord Mayor, the executive director and other organs of KCCA.
Matters that require attention and sanction of the Authority are presented and discussed in the Authority meeting, which was not the case before.
We have held a number of meetings which have ended successfully. We have passed a number of ordinances, which are still pending ratification by the Attorney General. We have designed and adopted a number of strategic plans such as the Kampala Drainage Master Plan, the education plan multi-modal transport plan, the sanitation plan and street lighting plans. They are just awaiting implementation; we need finances from the central coffers so that we can implement these plans.
On accountability, the reports, which were being held by Ms Musisi, are being produced. That is why you heard a tremor recently when we unearthed fraud in the legal directorate with billions and billions of money being squandered by different officers in the name of consent judgments. There is a lot of collusion that has been going on in this place. We unearthed that and we got a huge report, which we are now considering, where colossal sums of money have been siphoned by different individuals.

Accountability. KCCA officials led by Lord

Accountability. KCCA officials led by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago (right), Minister Beti Kamya (centre-front row), and former Executive Director Jennifer Musisi (3rd left) appear before Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee in 2016. PHOTO BY ERIC DOMINIC BUKENYA

You are only talking about the technical wing but within the political wing, you don’t eye to eye with Minister Kamya, what is the progress on normalising that?
The biggest problem is now the minister. She wants to keep herself as the hands-on administrator; have engagements with mayors directly. The immediate supervisor of the mayors is the Lord Mayor, not the minister. But the minister convenes meetings with mayors and they make policy decisions without involving the Lord Mayor. I took her to court about the same.
The minister interferes with sittings because there are a number of meeting she had declared illegal. Meetings resume where you do not exhaust everything on the Order Paper and you adjourn the meeting, she said ‘no, that cannot happen’. The judge overruled that and said it was the prerogative of the Lord Mayor to continue as long as we confine ourselves to the law.
She superintends over functions, launches markets commissions… engages in meetings to resolve administrative issues, which are supposed to be a function of the Lord Mayor. She meets boda boda cyclists, matatu operators….. The minister is supposed to handle policy issues at national level, defend our budget in Parliament, supervise what we do, guide us on how we should conduct business.

Does that explain why you seem to have strained relationship with some division mayors?
It will be erroneous to generalise that I have strained relations with mayors. I have a very good working relationship with at least four of the five mayors. I have no problem with the mayor of central. I have good working relationship with mayors of Makindye, Nakawa and Rubaga. The only problem I have is with the mayor of Kawempe.

What is the problem?
He created some fictitious alliance of mayors and arrogated himself as the chairperson. He wanted to be at the level of Lord Mayor because that alliance is the city, which is superintended by the Lord Mayor and I reined in on him. It is that alliance, which he wanted to use to supervise the operations within the city, which Kamya was meeting to circumvent the office of the Lord Mayor. Because of that fictitious creation, Mr Emmanuel Serunjogi would always want to circumvent the office of the Lord Mayor and meet the minister directly. I told him that is wrong and it must stop. You have no business somewhere sitting with the minister to discuss policy matters, pass resolutions and begin to implement them without coming to the authority here. So naturally he was not happy with that decision.

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There is already an amendment Bill in Parliament; why do you think the minister may not succeed in trimming your powers down with the bill. If she succeeds, what is your next political option?
Ms Kamya wanted to use the Serunjogi forum to popularise that Bill. He also wanted to rally all the mayors. We sat in a meeting and the rest of the mayors dissociated themselves from the Bill. At least that deligitimised the Bill. I challenged the mayors and told them to show me one clause that devolves the functions back to the division councils. There was nothing; not even a provision about town clerks being accounting officers and operating independent accounts. No provision for mayors to hold their own meetings, planning their budgets and any other functions. So when I shared this with them, they pulled away from the deal.
The basic feature of the Bill is to make the minister the political head of the city, completely eroding what is left of the powers of the Lord Mayor. We fought that and they hit a snag because there is a Constitutional Court ruling of Alex Ondoga and Kampala District Woman MP where the former sought to remove Nagayi Nabbilah as the woman MP, but the Constitutional Court said ‘no’. Kampala is a district and what changed was only the name. When the issue came up in Parliament, the Speaker rightly said the legal issues must be sorted out.
So if they ignore that and proceed to enact another law, certainly we shall go to court and challenge that.

You also took to audit the human resource of the authority after Musisi left. Where have you reached and what are the findings of your audit?
Yes, one of the commitments I made was again to revisit that issue because it was not constituted properly. The KCCA PAC, which I put in place, made that very revealing report to the effect that about 700 staff here [KCCA] are on temporary appointment. Their contracts have been irregularly renewed, and there are those who have been acting here for many years yet the Public Service standing orders do not allow you to act for more than six months. So I started the process, presented the issue on the KCCA Order Paper and subsequently, we resolved that everything should be done accordingly.
We have held meetings with the Public Service Commission and we gave ourselves a deadline of three months from June to August that everything should be complete. So the process is ongoing though with some challenges.

The President appoints all KCCA top officials, what powers do you have in carrying out human resource audit when you don’t have the authority to appoint any?
The law should be revised so that we re-establish the Kampala City Service Commission. This issue of giving too much power to the President to appoint staff here yet he has many other functions should be revised. While he may appoint the Executive Director, power should be given to the City Service Commission to appoint the rest so that processes move much faster. The President appoints the two ministers, the Executive Director, 10 directors and their deputies, the Resident City Commissioner and the deputies. Honestly speaking, those are too much powers vested in the President. We are saying some of the powers should be delegated to other agencies. The directors should be appointed by KCCA through a competitive process but this business of sitting and waiting for the President to make a decision should stop.

Accountability. KCCA officials led by Lord

Accountability. KCCA officials led by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago (right), Minister Beti Kamya (centre-front row), and former Executive Director Jennifer Musisi (3rd left) appear before Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee in 2016. PHOTO BY ERIC DOMINIC BUKENYA


Several reports indicate that KCCA is heavily indebted, how did that happen?
We have unearthed fraud in the legal department. KCCA lost more than Shs50b in legal battles, in consent judgments and other legal issues and Mr [Charles] Ouma [Director of Legal Affairs] had to resign. He has to come back and tell us what happened in the directorate; how this debt piled up to Shs50b, which has attracted garnishee orders to be issued by the courts. Our accounts have been frozen by garnishee orders.

What has been the impact of these huge debts on the operations of KCCA?
Most of the development programmes cannot be implemented. We were supposed to buy 20 garbage trucks, but Parliament said ‘no’. We appropriated money for paying the debts and we cannot allocate another money to purchase garbage trucks. Now the money, which was to be used to purchase garbage trucks, was diverted yet our core mandate is to keep Kampala clean. Now government issues a policy that we have to use concessionaires again yet they are charging exorbitant fees on their clients.
We needed to revisit that policy but you cannot do it without funds. The other thing we have is the market construction. We have a problem of working space in Kampala because of funds. You cannot have a clean city unless you are organised and have enough working space for the urban poor; they cannot afford commercial buildings. You can only do that by constructing common user facilities such as the markets in different parts of the city so that they have where to work. We have struggled with the government to provide funds to construct these markets. If you did that, you would decongest Kampala.

Recently he [Emmanuel Serunjogi] petitioned your office over the issue of property rates. How have you handled the petition?
We had already started working on that and they are the very people who created the problem with the same minister. They even had a meeting and I have a document coming from him and the minister saying they have no problem with the 6 per cent. Yet earlier, when the authority wanted to reduce the 6 per cent to four percent, it is the same minister who rescinded the decision we passed and said four per cent was passed illegally and should be shelved and can only work in 2019/20 financial year.

You disagreed with the blanket six per cent that the KCCA has been collecting. What alternative proposal did you make?
My proposal was that we should have a bundled cluster. I said if your rentable income is less than Shs5m annually, those should be under the exempted ones. Those are the poor people. Of course there is nominal fee; Shs2,000, which they can pay. Those with rentable value between Shs5m and Shs20m should pay a rate of three per cent and anything above Shs20m should pay six per cent. This uniform rate is not fair to the lower income earners. Surprisingly it was the same mayor of Kawempe who attempted to mobilise other mayors to meet the minister and sign a document, saying they do not have any problem with the six per cent and I said ‘no’. I have made a proposal; we forwarded it to the committee of revenue to further subject it to study and then report to us.
The mayor of Kawempe also wanted fresh valuation of the properties in his division. What is the stand of KCCA on that?
The record we also have is that the mayor of Kawempe is deeply involved in carrying out valuation with the technical team without the involvement of the office of the Lord Mayor. My role is to put in place the valuation court and I don’t do it alone; I do it through the authority. I presented my nominations to the authority and it was approved. So the role of that valuation court is not to carry out valuation but to listen to the complaints of those who have been unfairly taxed so that they address them.

On appointments

Has the President’s appointment of the top bosses affected anything within KCCA?
You have seen many resignations and the positions are not filled. That is why you are seeing many of these people in acting positions. Since the resignation of the deputy Executive Director, Dr Judith Tukahirwa Tumusiime, President Museveni has not appointed a deputy executive director and now Musisi leaves and still we have the same problem. These are the challenges we are dealing with.
Mr [Andrew] Kitata was appointed in December last year and we are now in August and Mr Museveni has not taken any step to formalise the appointment. What is he waiting for? They just want to put people on tenterhooks for patronage. You are there at their mercy that you are just acting and if you don’t act to their wish, they throw you out. That is why you see all these resignations because people do not have any tenure of security of office at KCCA.

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