New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Minister for Presidency - We Will Sort Out KCCA

The Minister for the Presidency, Frank Tumwebaze, says the central government can overrule the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to restore order if Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and executive director Jennifer Musisi fail to agree on an issue. Charles Etukuri spoke to him.

Q:The individuals charged with running KCCA and ensuring order in the city are busy tearing themselves apart. As the line minister, what are you doing about it?

A:The wrangles will cease, especially as each of those leaders continues to appreciate their roles as provided for in the Act. My work is mainly to guide them on the policies of government, which they should adhere to and implement.

The new KCCA Law mandates the authority to administer the city on behalf of the central government. So it is important that the Government gives them as much policy guidance as possible to avoid any ambiguities.

And as a new institution undergoing a number of changes, these issues of leaders' disagreements are expected. But with time, everybody will cope. But as government, we shall not allow individual leaders' disagreements to paralyse the city.

The Government through the Minister for Kampala has power under the KCCA Act, to veto the decisions of the authority and generally direct them on how to comply with the set policies and the law. Where they fail to agree, government will take a decision based on what the law directs.

Q: What is creating the confusion?

A: The confusion is largely created by those who have failed to appreciate that Kampala changed from being a local government to a City Authority with new mandates and roles.

Previously under the former KCC, there was fusion of roles between management staff and political leaders, which obviously was bad and contrary to corporate governance best practices. Politicians were cashiers, would sell and give away land, they would manage public toilets and markets in total contravention of good governance principles.

That is why for example some markets were named after political groups like UYD market. Though illegal, it had become the norm and practice of the time. Changing and reforming all this does not come easily without resistance from some sections. And it will, therefore, require a tough and non-compromising approach from technical KCCA managers the Government has hired.

Q: There are claims that the law regulating the affairs of KCCA is partly to blame for the confusion. Why don't you re-table it before Parliament so that it can be amended and for clarity?

A: The law has some gaps, but that still cannot be the reason for some leaders not to work with each other. The roles of each leader are well defined in the law. The gaps, however, which need attention in the KCCA Act, are in regard to how a supposedly independent Authority should work with a legislative body of elected leaders.

The reason why authorities like NEMA, NFA and URA, are created and given that degree of autonomy is because of the need to allow them make independent decisions based on their professional competencies, which, if subject to the interference or veto of another political body, would get it compromised.

You do not expect elected leaders for example, to support decisions to demolish illegal structures or re-allocation of street vendors. May be, the law can provide for a different framework of how the elected leaders of Kampala can work.

The elected mayor and other leaders deemed necessary could, for example, have special seats in Parliament, such that their role purely remains that of oversight and not being part of taking management decisions.

Instead of being officers of the authority they would become officers of Parliament.

Q: There are claims that Kampala is not getting any better. Despite promises and the tripling of the budget, potholes, lack of street lights, poor drainage, insecurity among others continue to bedevil the city. When will we see an end to these problems?

A: That is totally false. Is Kampala - Jinja Road still the same? Is Bukoto-Kisasi Road the same? Is Kalerwe-Tuula road the same? Is Kawempe-Mpererwe Road the same? Is Ntinda-Kiwatule Road the same? Is Wandegeya-Kyagwe Road the same? Is Kisota Road the same?

But of course much more still needs to be done and that is why KCCA needs support and not condemnation.

The challenge on street lighting is mainly by those who steal them. KCCA engineers should come up with some technical specifications of bulb holders that make it impossible for thieves to easily unscrew them from the poles.

Drainage on the other hand is being worked on. Nakivubo Channel has been contracted, as well as Lubigi channel, among others.

Q: What do you make of the allegations by the Lord Mayor that the executive director has usurped his powers and is single handedly running the authority?

A: I do not see what the executive director can usurp. The law will not allow her. The roles of the Lord Mayor are stipulated in the Act. For example, it is the work of the Lord Mayor to convene and chair authority meetings; can the executive director usurp such a mandate?

The Lord Mayor accuses the ED of refusing to recognise the Deputy Mayor Suleiman Kidandala. Actually, the Lord Mayor has the immediate solution to that problem.

Let him convene an Authority meeting and they authenticate the minute which approved his appointment. The executive director told me that she would be queried as an accounting officer for paying someone without an authentic instrument, in this case, a minute of the authority meeting where he was approved.

But I am working with the Attorney General to sort out that technicality.

Q: Serious allegations have been made against the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago that he obtained money and other material benefits from a Chinese firm. What is your take?

A: I learnt that through press reports that the matter is under investigation by the IGG. So, let the IGG do her work, and I hope the Lord Mayor will adequately explain himself.

Q: Will you ask him to step aside?

A: Still that is not my role. It is the work of the IGG.

Q: There are allegations by the Lord Mayor that the accusations were a creation of the Government to politically eliminate him from his job?

A: That is diversionary. It is a big mistake to try and politicise corruption. Corruption has no party, tribe or colour. It is a personal act. So, if one is accused, he/she should explain him/herself clearly to the investigators instead of trying to look for political cover ups.

Q: The Government hatched the idea of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area, which was envisaged under the plan to expand the boundaries of Kampala city to include Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi districts. What happened?

A: We are yet to establish the Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority (MPPA) by appointing the board of competent persons.

We have delayed a bit because the whole institution of KCCA is new. Secondly, if we want the metropolitan authority to effectively fix all planning issues of the greater Kampala and its neighbourhood, we must source for people with the right skills and experience.

Remember, we are in a struggle of taking Kampala City to a world class city standard. So you need the right resources and capacities to do that. But soon the MPPA will be appointed.

Q: There is the issue of salaries. Some people have a feeling that top dogs at KCCA awarded themselves huge chunks of tax payers' money in the form of salaries and allowances.

A: The KCCA staff have no power to do that. Yes, they could have negotiated with the Government and put up their demands as professionals, but finally it was the Government to decide. Whatever they earn now was approved by the Government through the public service ministry.

Paying professional managers well is good. You hold them accountable and you fight corruption. You cannot achieve results from a poorly paid and less motivated work force.

And comparatively, the salaries at KCCA are not the highest. Other Government agencies like URA, National Water, NSSF and the Auditor General's Office, among others pay similar or more packages to their staff.

Q: What should the public expect from you?

A: The public should expect more work and more services. We need more constructive engagements and understanding. Changing old systems does not come easily. So let KCCA be given all the support .

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