A bitter verbal exchange erupted on Monday between Masaka District and municipal leaders over the proposed elevation of the Masaka Town to city status.
The bone of contention is mainly on whether the entire district should be turned into a city – a proposal that has been opposed by a section of municipal leaders led by the mayor, Mr Godfrey Kayemba Afaayo.
The mayor wants only the municipality and parts of Kalungu and Lwengo annexed to the proposed new city.
This was during a consultative meeting on the proposed city status organised by Ministry of Local Government at Masaka District headquarters.
Trouble began when Mr Kayemba submitted his proposal on how he wants Masaka city to look like.
But, municipal councillors led by Robert Kambugu, who represents Nyendo-Ssenyange Division, started heckling Mr Kayemba, accusing him of being selfish and dishing out money to some councillors to oppose another proposal fronted by Masaka District ,chairperson, Mr Jude Mbabaali and Municipality MP, Mr Mathias Mpuuga to turn the whole Masaka District into a city.
Mr Mpuuga did not have kind words for the Mayor either, he said, “We have put in much time to see that we get to the next level [city status], but it’s unfortunate that some leaders are fighting over small political positions and they do not know what the implications shall be.”
However, Mr Kayemba who was calm continued to defend his proposal before the commissioner urban planning in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Justinian Nuwagaba, advising that the government’s initial plan was to elevate selected municipalities to cities, but not removing existing districts.
Mr Kayemba reminded Mr Mbabaali, that it was him who spearheaded the annexation of Kkingo Sub -County in Lwengo District and Kalungu Rural Sub-county in Kalungu District to Masaka Municipality and appealed to all leaders to stop fighting for political positions which may hinder the attainment of a city status.
“The unending divisions among Masaka leaders in bid to maintain their political positions may cost us so heavily including losing this chance of city status. Government can decide to give this opportunity to another area with organised leaders,” Mr Kayemba said.
The meeting which was chaired by Mr Mbabaali further turned chaotic when former Masaka District woman MP, Mr Freda Kase Mubanda said there was a plan by leaders in Kabonera sub county to cancel their resolution that okayed turning the entire district into a city .
However, the Kabonera Sub- county chairperson, Mr Francis Ssebula blasted Ms Mubanda, questioning the capacity under which she was addressing the meeting.
“Who do you represent in this meeting Ms Mubanda? Kabonera cannot withdraw its resolution. I advise you to rest your case old woman because you are speaking out of ignorance,” Mr Ssebula yelled.
Mr Nuwagaba said the purpose of his visit was to inspect the proposed boundaries for the new city and also get views of local leaders, which he did.
“I have captured what is on ground and I am taking a full report to the ministry. We shall give feedback about our final decision in the shortest time possible,” Mr Nuwagaba said.
Masaka is among the seven municipalities that will be elevated to cities effective July 1 next year.
Others are Arua, Mbale Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal, and Mbarara.