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Post by sol_drethedon on Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:50 pm


Seeing the future. Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago got another lease of life when court on Thursday upheld an injunction it had slapped it had slapped on the KCCA meeting that voted to impeach him on Monday. At his home a day before the ruling, Mr. Lukwago recounted to Sunday Monitor's Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi and Frederic Musisi his troubled journey at KCCA and stopped only short of declaring his intention to challenge President Museveni in 2016.

Qn: What did you set out to do right from your first day as Lord Mayor?

Ans: On that day, after swearing in, I issued a policy statement which I thought would guide members on how we could come up with a shared vision and how we can transform the city. The hallmark of the document was a shared vision, synergy building, and I stressed that the critical issue which we faced at the moment was institutional building. We talk about service delivery and transforming the city but these can only be delivered by a vibrant institution called KCCA, with all its organs functioning. Indeed I put it in a broader picture and said that we were working in a very hostile environment and that the country is at crossroads because many institutions are facing a crisis; which comes from the center and the theme at the center is one-man's-rule.

I said this is where we have a problem; and that in as much as we want to build an entity which will respond to the challenges of the day, we have to contend with the challenge that our country is on the verge of becoming a failed state where institutions crumble, disintegrate and can not function normally. It has been a very critical challenge for the last two and a half years I have been in office; all my efforts have been geared to that because it is not one person to deliver the  city that we want.

Qn: So the policy statement was directed at the Councillors?

Ans: Yes it was the Councillors and all the technical people.

Qn: Would you say it was well received?

Ans: I really doubt if the Councillors and the executive director [Jeniffer Musisi] really appreciated this, but some should have and were really forthcoming in pushing for this agenda. Unfortunately, the cancer that is eating up the whole nation has not spared KCCA. And that is the one-man's-rule I talked about earlier - personalization of the sate and all government institutions. I have always wondered how many permanent secretaries are in this country.[Ms Musisi is at the lever of a Permanent Secretary]. You can imagine the frequent interactions between President Museveni  and the accounting officer of KCCA [Ms Musisi]. Is that normal, given that many accounting officers of functional institutions don't get to meet him? All the time  he has something to discus about KCCA it is the ED he meets. The ED can go there to report the Lord Mayor on any case, she can go there to report a Councillor, she can report on anything.

Qn: You are saying that the ED spends more time working with the president that with the people at KCCA?

Ans: I want you to get the bigger picture and I do not want to get into that stereotype thinking that I am always fighting the ED. But the president gives policy directives to the accounting officer, which is abnormal. There is  a bottom-top arrangement if you are to reflect the will of the people in all policies made, which mandate I have. At KCCA we have  different tiers at different levels. If you look at the KCCA act, it creates a political leadership which is comprised of more than 250 leaders; you have  five divisions each of which has a mayor and on average each division urban council has got about 45 Councillors. You have got below them parish leaders; you have got those at village levels; these are all political leaders whose ideas must be put in a particular perspective through my office where they are supposed to be galvanized across  the board at all levels to come up with a policy which is supposed to be implemented by the technical team. But before you even do that, you have to be mindful that the central government has a role to play in the management of the city, so you have  to make sure that the city's ideas and views rhyme with the broader national policies. So you have to look at the National Planning Authority, the physical planning department of KCCA, NEMA, you have to build synergies around different government institutions. That administrative structure would develop synergies that would deliver the city we want.

Qn: You were elected to oversee that process....

Ans: The critical challenge we have faced is that the system is not functional. All we have seen is the entrenchment of one-man rule so that President Museveni looks at the ED as a proxy sent to manage the city on his behalf. In other words, they do not care about the existence of the elected leaders. What went wrong is that the system of all other political leaders like mayors and Councillors being under the Lord Mayor is not functional and this is what I term as multiple organ failure. The body KCCA has got different entities like division councils and others which create systems of checks and balances because  every human being is prone to excesses. That is why the accounting officer, the Councillors and mayors must be checked.

Qn: Is that your responsibility?

Ans: The problem is that those check points have been destroyed because  you do not have functional divisional urban councils; there is no functional contracts committee which is independent of the office of the ED; we do not have a physical planning authority as provided for in the Act; we do not have a public accounts committee to scrutinise the accounts for accountability purposes; we do not have committees to perform the other duties. This has been my struggle all along and for you in the media you vulgarized it and demonized me.

Qn: You have clearly outlined what you are supposed to do, but you have been accused of concentrating on politicking.

Ans: I shudder to hear that we, who are demanding for institutions to be put in place, are politicking. The actual  people who are politicking are Museveni and his proxies. They say the central government took over Kampala but in reality it is Museveni who personally took over. In the tribunal for instance, they claimed that I never signed minutes and that I failed to deliver quality services. But before anyone asks me account for quality service delivery at KCCA, they need to answe some questions first. Where did the policies emanate from? The idea is that President Museveni calls the ED to State House whenever he wants and gives her instructions on what to do. Sometimes it is the other way round; that if she wants to do something and she wants the blessings of the president she goes there, they agree and then she comes back and implements it without going through the Authority. And in the end she does not account through the Authority, thereby rendering the entire political system put in place redundant.

Qn: Some people are saying that they can do without the politics in the city as long as someone is building roads, planting flowers...

Ans: The colonialist built roads, schools and hospitals, but why did we demand for self-rule? The rule of the people is crucial and paramount. People elect their leaders so that they can express their will and  determine the destiny of this country and so that they can indulge in their affairs. In the current situation where the ED gets directives from the president on what to do and does not want to account, how do you play the role of making policies, oversight and monitoring? Because these are key!

Qn: You have spoken about the contracts committee several times. What is wrong with it?

Ans: The law is very clear that the contracts committee is supposed to be independent of the office of the ED because these are all check points. Imagine that I am the one presiding over the Authority and the same time appointing the contracts committee, how would we ensure that I do not dish out contracts  to people I like? In practice we do not have an independent contracts committee. For two years Madam Jeniffer kept saying she was using the URA (Uganda Revenue Authority) contracts committee to do all the procurements and disposals. We kept wondering why this was  so. Granted, the law provides that in times of emergency we can use a contracts committee of another government institution, but in this case Ms Musisi used it for purposes of convenience. All the staff she brought in were from URA. We as "Why URA?" URA  is just a tax collection body and not a service industry. If we had need, why not partner say with UNRA (Uganda National Roads Authority) if we are talking about infrastructural development, but URA? When we decided so much to have our own contracts committee, she decided to hire her own assistants, all from URA. There is no contracts committee because she does  all the procurement and calls her own people.

Qn: You had a council to lead, which would help you to raise these questions.Isn't it failure on your part that instead it voted you out?

Ans: I had no problem with the Authority Councillors from May 2011 until October 19 when I appointed my deputy - Sulaiman Kidandala, because many thought they were potential candidates. At one point the majority NRM Councillors even went to the President's Office, where he presided over primaries to elect a deputy Lord Mayor. Councillor Madima Nsereko showed up in my office and said she is the one who had won the primaries, havring defeated two candidates. You can imagine, it is my prerogative to choose who deputizes me, just like the president has the discretion to choose the vice  president. But this time he wanted to preside over the behind the scenes machinations to impose on me somebody and that is where problems started. After appointing Mr. Kidandala in the council meeting and the clerk, Sam Takan brought me the minutes to sign, he was reprimanded and interdicted. They opened a file against me and the DPP for forging the minutes. More than five months later, the DPP exonerated us, saying there was no way the Lord Mayor, who chairs the Authority meeting could collude with the clerk to forge minutes. But even then, they refused to reinstate Mr. Takan to his job.

Qn: You have a council dominated by NRM members, but you refuse to let one of them deputize for you?

Ans: I have heard some people say I should have appointed an NRM deputy, but it is my prerogative to appoint my deputy. I made what I deemed to be the most suitable appointment. And by the way, the Councillors had moved on from that and we were moving on well. In fact we held a number of informal meetings at Kabuusu and we were moving on well. When the ED boycotted the Authority meetings, the Councillors passed a vote of no confidence in her, accusing her of incompetence and other charges. It is at this point that she realized she had to court the Councillors so she started inducing them with money since many of them had financial problems. For instance  the Councillors are part timers who are supposed to get allowances when they attend meetings but they are  not paid a salary. It is only the Lord Mayor and his deputy who are supposed to  be paid salaries. But Ms Musisi put all the Councillors on a retainer of 2.5million or 3.5million in order to compromise them.

Qn: So how do you expect to lead the Authority without the support of most Councillors?

Ans: What should I do? I could easily go along with what Mr. Museveni wants and there would be no problem at all. The other alternative would be that I bribe the Councillors. I don't believe in paying the Bribes and I don't even have the money. But I trust that the people of Kampala will take charge and so long as I am in office, I will do my absolute best to do what is right and benefits the city.

Qn: If we could turn back the clock and this is your first day in office, is there anything you would have done differently?

Ans: That is speculative. But in any case I have showed how I tried to build institutions and how my efforts were frustrated. Unless you have suggestions on how I would have handled the situation.

Qn: And then the issue of your association with Dr. Kizza Besigye?

Ans: As  I told you, the problem comes from the center, emanating from President Museveni himself. I decided to adopt a multi-pronged approach to  solving this problem and working with Dr. Besigye to remove this problem is a good thing.

Qn: I have heard some of your supporters talking about "president Lukwago". Is that a possibility?

Ans: Let me tell you,  President Museveni's time is over. There is no way he can go beyond 2016, whatever he does, he has led a generation, the bush war generation, whose time is up. Even Dr. Besigye has said  he will not stand in 2016 because he realizes this. I am not saying that that will mark the end of militarism in our politics, however, because new generals are rising to the stage and you never know. But the time for people like (Prime Minister) Mbabazi, Brigadier Henry Tumukunde, Kahinda Otafiire and Major General Jim Muhwezi is up. Imagine for example that I was only 9 years in 1980 when President Museveni first contested the presidency. I am now

Qn: So will you stand fof president in 2016?

Ans: What I want to tell you that President Museveni should not even dream of ruling beyond 2016.


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