19 April 2012

Uganda: Lukwago - I'll Work With Musisi Only If There's Fairness and Justice

Kampala Capital City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago yesterday revealed what it would take for him to work with the Authority's executive director Jennifer Musisi. There must be, Lukwago said, a spirit of teamwork, fairness and justice.

"We need to work as an institution to transform this city, not as individuals," the mayor said.

"For God's sake, how do you expect me to support the razing of illegal structures in slum areas when the very hotel we are in has no approved plan and was built in a road reserve? One of the public roads beside this hotel is closed, without KCCA permission."

On revenue mobilization, Lukwago said KCCA should start with government officials that are defaulting on property rates, before going for poor people in slums.

Lukwago and Musisi have disagreed on almost everything, leaving observers wondering if they can ever work together. Lukwago is an elected leader, while Musisi is appointed by the President. Lukwago's qualified pledge followed criticism from several city stakeholders who attended yesterday's inauguration of the Kampala Cityzens' Forum at Imperial Royale hotel, where many participants castigated the two KCCA heads for concentrating on a power-fights instead of focusing on service delivery in Kampala.

The theme of the discussion was, 'Changing the face of Kampala: What is your role?' Robert Kabushenga, chief executive officer of the Vision group, moderated the debate, which featured Andrew Mwenda, managing editor of The Independent newsmagazine; Aruu county MP Odonga Otto; Dr James Magara, a prominent dentist in Kampala; and Pastor Michael Kyazze of Omega Healing Centre, as panelists.

"Since we passed the KCCA Act, the city is entirely clean. I don't know who takes the credit [between Musisi and Lukwago]. We city dwellers are seeing a big difference because the Authority's workers sweep even at night," Otto said.

He said the KCCA Act had a number of loopholes because it was passed in a hurry, at a time when politicians were preparing for the 2011 general elections.

"Before the Act is amended, the two of you [Musisi and Lukwago] should either resolve your differences and deliver the expected services, or resign; or we shall call for a vote of no confidence on you," said Otto, who is spearheading a motion in Parliament to impeach President Museveni.

He added cheekily: "One of you lost a briefcase recently and the other is asking who might have stolen it!"

This was in reference to Musisi's official briefcase that was stolen at the weekend, along with the KCCA documents it contained. Mwenda criticized the central government for being one of KCCA's biggest defaulters. He rapped "some politicians" for seeking cheap popularity and blamed KCCA for failing to decongest the city, before calling on Lukwago to join Musisi in developing Kampala.

Mwenda proposed a heavy tax on vehicle owners as a way of generating revenue and decongesting the city, and collection of all property rates by KCCA, rather than constantly asking the government for money.

"People have built in wetlands; that's why we're flooding. For every congested road, somebody has build in a road reserve. We need to begin serious reform," he said.

Pastor Kyazze said there was no need to relocate people that have built property in wetlands, but, rather, to construct modern drainage systems to filter the water that is currently filtered naturally by papyrus.

"Hamburg [in Germany] is built on water. It is just a matter of planning -- because Kampala has fewer hills and plenty of wetland, which we should utilize efficiently, for water is not a curse, but a blessing," Kyazze said.

He counselled Musisi and Lukwago: "As for the two warring authority officials, it is our role as religious leaders to bring them together and fight Satan who is in their midst."

Dr Magara called for development of a master plan that addresses, among other things, land use, modern infrastructure, greening, traffic management and proper zoning, with factories and bars separated from residential areas. When she rose to speak, Musisi stuck to her guns and vowed to collect any lawful revenue, insisting that paying tax is an obligation, not an option.

"If the Act is amended, we shall fallow the amendments. But for now, we're following what we have," she affirmed.

"Trade order is within the law and we shall implement it to the letter. There is no free ride in other developing cities and you are not going to get it in Kampala. We must modernize the city for ourselves, our children and the next generation."

She revealed that Israel was developing a master plan for Kampala with funding from the World Bank and that KCCA was working with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to prevent further wetland encroachment.

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