The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: How to Manage the City Better

Steve Jobs, the late inspirational founder of Apple, once said: "Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do."

In July 2007, with a handful of National Taxpayers Protection Organisation (NTAPO) officials, I proposed the city management system now followed by KCCA, to Ms Irene Ovonji Odida, who chaired a commission of Inquiry on KCC.

The Ovonji commission was appointed by Kahinda Otafiire, then minister for Local Government, in June 2007 to probe the financial and administrative irregularities in Kampala central division. Since malpractices stemmed from Kampala district and affected all the five city divisions, we considered it wise to replace the whole Kampala system with a new form of city government known as city manager plan.

City manager plan is the response to the growing complexity of urban problems in United States and elsewhere which requires management expertise not often possessed by elected public officials.

The answer is to entrust most of the executive powers, including law enforcement, to a highly-trained and experienced public administrator.

City manager is among the three best systems for running cities, the other two being: mayor council, where mayor is the chief of the executive, and the commission plan, which vests the legislative and executive functions in one group of three to seven officials elected at city-wide level.

Although Justice Catherine Bamugemereire's tribunal recommendations tend to lean towards the commission plan (as a system of city governance), it should be noted that this system has been largely supplanted with the city manager plan and is, therefore, outdated.

It is pathetic to see that despite our clear-headed contributions about the matter to the parliamentary committee on Local Government, the KCCA tribunal and the minister of the Presidency fronted recommendations which will make matters worse.

In public interest, below are my comprehensive legal arguments touching the matter as prescribed in the books of laws of Uganda. The position of a district council speaker emanates from the 1995 Constitution Article 184 (1).

This article likens the functions of the district council speaker to those of the speaker of Parliament. The position of the district speaker is further fortified in Section 11 of Local Government Act.

The Local Government Act provides that "where both the chairperson and vice chairperson [of the district] are unable to perform the functions of the office of the chairperson or the vice chairperson, the speaker shall perform those functions until elections.

Further, the Local Government Act Cap 243, Section 27 (2) states that "a person shall not hold a political office or full-time office in the service of more than one local government."

Allowing the lord mayor to hold two fulltime posts destroyed the diffusion of powers and the mutual accountability designed to prevent any single group or individual from dominating the political system.

Most of the times, political systems with checks and balances have a separation of powers-- an allocation of different political and legal functions to separate the independent branches of the government.

I, therefore, predict that no court order or any amount of pressure from the warring factions, including negotiations, will settle the KCCA legal glitch, other than the Parliament, which can amend the law.

Parliament, the Executive and Judiciary should stop wasting time and billions of taxpayers' money looking for solutions already written in the books of laws in their hands.

The author is the president, National Taxpayers Protection Organisation (NTAPO). 0712268924

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2013 The Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.