12 February 2013

Uganda: Ssemujju Nganda - Has KCCA's Musisi Compromised Media?


On Friday February 8, I joined colleagues who sit on the parliamentary committee on Local Government and Public Services during a tour of some facilities in Kampala.

This committee, upon a petition, is investigating service delivery in Kampala, including utilization of public funds allocated to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). My immediate interest was the Kiteezi landfill, where KCCA deposits and is supposed to process waste/garbage. Kiteezi is one of the nine parishes making up Nangabo sub-county in Kyadondo East, which I represent in Parliament.

This landfill measures about 35 acres. Although Shs 2bn of taxpayers' money is paid out to a contractor annually to process garbage deposited here, it is instead spread to dry up. The biggest activity at Kiteezi, which employs tens of (mainly) women, is sorting plastic bottles and metals - I guess for recycling and other usages.

The contactor is supposed to be paid against tonnes processed but the weigh bridge is dysfunctional. The failure to process this garbage has brought calamity in this area, which, by the way, is heavily populated. Kiteezi has become a meeting point, where stray dogs from neighbouring villages feast on our domestic birds and animals.

It is also home to the highest number of marabou storks in Wakiso and Kampala. These birds ruthlessly and indiscriminately stain people's roofs and plants with their acidic excreta.

I may be wrong, but I think a garbage collection centre must be enveloped by concrete to stop the toxic fluid (leachate) from the decomposing waste filtering into the soil. Even the channels carrying this leachate to treatment facilities must be concrete for the same reason.

Instead, water points around this Kiteezi have now been contaminated and we are sitting on a time bomb. Even simple things like spraying to kill flies, for which money is paid, and clearing of garbage dropped by the speeding trucks, are not done. Kiteezi has been reduced to one big toilet. Therefore, a visit by anybody who will listen to crying residents, even when he/she is offering no immediate solution, is an occasion to celebrate.

And what does the KCCA executive director do? Deploy 20 stick-wielding men to stop the committee from accessing Kiteezi. Reason: Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze and Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago must not bring their politics to the landfill. Because I am the area MP, I ask the Nangabo LC III chairman to find out who these men are. Enraged residents gather and decide to deal with them. Police immediately swing in action and arrest these men.

This story is not reported by any media outlet because Jennifer Musisi doesn't want it. As we leave the KCCA mortuary near Mulago, Musisi's deputy enters the parliamentary mini-bus and pleads with the committee not to tour Kafumbe Mukasa road behind Owino market. People who work along this road are goons and would beat up the MPs, we are told.

Committee Chairperson Florence Kintu (Kalungu Woman) and her deputy Raphael Magyezi (Igara West) insist that they must inspect the road despite the threat. A clerk of this committee joins Musisi's deputy in stopping the committee but fails. Even Presidency Minister Frank Tumwebaze calls the vice chairperson and is pleading that the Kafumbe Mukasa road tour be cancelled.

KCCA was given Shs 45bn to work on roads in Kampala. About Shs 5bn was allocated to Kafumbe Mukasa road but no work was done. On reaching Kafumbe Mukasa road, we find the same story as Kiteezi. The committee is shocked by the state of neglect of a road that is heavily used by commercial vehicles. You have to wade through water and heaps of garbage to cover these three kilometres of a city.

It is now clear why Jeniffer Musisi didn't want the committee to visit it. Her aggressive team is busy mobilizing the media not to show footage of this road on the evening TV news. Agataliiko Nfuufu begins the story by Musisi responding even before telling us what she was responding to. It is a story clearly crafted to paint Musisi, even in circumstances like these ones, as still a worker, focused, committed, etc.

NTV Akawungeezi is even worse because this particular news item is skewed to not reveal the rot discovered during the tour, including 1,700 bicycles meant for village health committees abandoned at a house that Gen Tinyefuza used to occupy in Kololo, in a rotting state, and tens of taxi and Police uniforms found at a house near Sheraton that Nasser Sebbagala had once grabbed.

To NTV and Bukedde TV, all this was not news. The news was Jennifer Musisi. She was too busy to take the MPs around Kampala but had time to guide the media on a similar tour. Her team called a CBS journalist with instructions on how to file the story. Unfortunately for them, it is not their usual agent but a new reporter assigned just for this tour.

When the value for money audit of Jennifer Musisi is finally done, a Kazinda-like story awaits Uganda. Like women who bleach their faces forgetting the shoulders, she has planted followers on roads used by the elite/corporate but forgotten that the majority who live in Kampala use roads like Kafumbe Mukasa.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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