The Observer (Kampala)

19 February 2013

Uganda: Ssemujju Nganda - Vision Has Reignited Fight for Kampala

opinion

The Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, is currently at the receiving end of very bad press.

The New Vision has, in quick succession, published and broadcast, almost on all its platforms, including Bukedde, stories that are intended to taint Lukwago.

One such story titled "IGG probes Lukwago over Chinese deal", published on February 11, alleges, among other things, that a Chinese company, Foton East Africa Ltd, struck a deal with Lukwago in which they would give him money, and he in return allows them to construct a motor vehicle showroom in a road reserve.

The truth of the matter, and Mr Robert Kabushenga who heads New Vision knows it, is that China is an ally of Gen Yoweri Museveni. Chinese companies, therefore, don't have to strike deals with the opposition to win contracts or any other favour.

For your information, it is Chinese companies that have constructed Museveni's two-tower office block near Parliament, the ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters and are now constructing the Entebbe Express highway. Correspondences show that actually the Foton showroom was discussed between Vice President Edward Ssekandi and KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi, at one time.

In fact, Foton had been in contact with KCCA officials, including acting Director Physical Planning Joseph Ssemambo and Anita Kusiima, the Supervisor, Development Control. It is the KCCA technocrats that Musisi heads who authorised Foton to encroach on the road reserve by at least three metres.

Other stories, including one about the city abattoir, have followed. And Lukwago has in return gone to court. Both the New Vision and The Observer have published editorials condemning Lukwago for chasing New Vision journalists from his media briefing. Both editorials call upon Lukwago not to attack the messenger.

I agree with both that the messenger (media) should never be targeted. Both newspapers must, however, understand that when you join a front during a war, you are going to be treated as a belligerent. You lose your innocence as a messenger and become a genuine target for attack.

Anyone sane enough knows that my friend Robert Kabushenga is one of the advisors of Jennifer Musisi. He has done everything possible to grow her profile for her to be able to match Lukwago. You remember the Bukedde TV market bimeeza, which Musisi was supposed to preside over. The lord mayor stormed these bimeeza, starting with one at Kalerwe and they have since been abandoned.

At one time a conference was organized at Imperial Royale, at which Musisi was supposed to interact with the public (it was, of course, presided over by Kabushenga.) We mobilized our people who are affected by Musisi's decisions, to attend. Although Kabushenga denied me, Hon Betty Nambooze, Hon Mathias Mpuuga and Hon Medard Lubega an opportunity to talk, our people spoke and no other conference has ever been organized since.

I respect journalists who work at New Vision. But let all of them know that their boss is our political opponent and a legitimate target. Grabbing Kampala using legislation that Museveni pushed down MPs' throats during the 2010 campaign was a climax of several defeats he suffered.

You all remember that Museveni had proposed a constitutional amendment in 2003 that Kampala be annexed from Buganda. Kampala was, before the 2005 constitutional amendments, one of the districts making up Buganda. After a fierce fight, Museveni gave up on full annexation and at least recognized it as "of Buganda" in the Constitution.

Museveni has fielded several candidates, but all have lost the contest for Kampala mayor. He then resorted to compromising Nasser Ntege Sebaggala, which also didn't hand him the city. On realizing that Lukwago was about to be the lord mayor, he pushed through legislation that has created confusion.

He sponsored Peter Ssematimba, whom we thoroughly defeated. He then resorted to using Musisi to frustrate Lukwago, which is also backfiring. The 'all clean' Musisi is now in Parliament being investigated for possible abuse of office and corruption. She pleaded with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to halt the investigations with no success. This is when these stories began to emerge.

I am the grandson of Namuyimba of Kibuye, just behind the police station. Therefore, Kampala to us is ancestral, just as Ntungamo is to Museveni and his wife. We will, therefore, resist any sugarcoated move to annex it.

Museveni knows that with all his money and brutality, Kampala has always voted against him in the last three presidential elections and will continue to do so. What remains is for him to change the law once again and begin directly appointing the lord mayors and councillors.

This is the context in which we strike back at Robert Kabushenga. Some of us have shared part of our working history with Kabushenga, but this is a matter of life and death and we are prepared for all the consequences.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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