18 October 2018

Uganda: Musisi Resignation Marks End of Glamour, Big Clean City Ideas

opinion

So Ms Jennifer Musisi threw in the towel during the Kanye Kardashian visit making it difficult to forget. She proceeded on leave with just over one year left on her contract. She arrived as KCCA executive director in 2010, with a big mandate to break the old city hall networks and fix the city's crumbling infrastructure.

In 2006, Nasser Sebaggala had been re-elected to his former job, which he lost after being convicted of dealing with forged securities in the United States in 1998. His successor Erias Lukwago lost executive powers to the Minister for Kampala, but carved his office into a fortress, a bully pulpit from which he opposed the now departed executive director.

In 2013, in perhaps a fatal mistake, government came up with the idea to impeach Lukwago without looking far enough to study its consequences. The idea commenced with a kangaroo like inquiry presided over by Justice Catherine Bamugememeire. This inquiry was sputtered for its draconian methods by another Judge, Lydia Mugambe Ssali, who later impugned the entire impeachment process that proceeded after a court order had been obtained stopping it.

The young lawyer at the time, Abdallah Kiwanuka, who obtained the order from Justice Yasin Nyanzi, was manhandled at city gates. Most of the councillors who voted for impeachment were swept out of office. Lukwago's biggest defender in that council Matia Mujuzi quietly passed away last year after a protracted illness.

In 2016, Mr Lukwago was re-elected partly riding on the back of FDC candidate Kizza Besigye and he is presiding over a FDC majority council. The prior 2011 council, which had a plurality of NRM and DP members, was friendlier to government.

A new player joined the existing antagonists Beti Kamya, who replaced Frank Tumwebaze. Ms Kamya humiliated by her former party FDC, a dismal performance in 2011 on the federalist ticket and a further loss in the race for Parliament arrived with a new vigour seeking to assert her position at the top of both Lukwago and Musisi.

Ms Musisi, who saw her job as a path for even bigger things, first retreated into using the powers of her office to bolster her image. She encountered a number of roadblocks to have government pick up its share of the bills for supporting the new Kampala narrative where donors have picked up 85 per cent of the bills.

Her new minister backed up by a minister of state was not one to concede the limelight. Her degree is in marketing. She once ran the tables selling Nile Breweries, a relatively new upstart after 1986, over the more established Uganda Breweries.

Just as Musisi was looking up clothed in all sorts of awards and regular demonisation of Lukwago, Kamya, a daughter of a KAR officer, was also thinking bigger. In some circles, her ruthless marketing package mentions as a future vice president. In other circles in Uganda's feudal politics, she offered the same package like Ms Musisi, but the additional cache of being a vigorous defender of the President.

KCCA budgets were cut. KCCA's payroll, one of the country's biggest, came under scrutiny. Unlike other government agencies that roll over their obligations for years, KCCA's service mandate requires steady recurrent expenditure.

The project pipeline dried up. Government did sound out the majority FDC councillors on impeaching Lukwago a second time, but they were warned this effort would be disastrous.

In fast changing politics, government's attention has switched to new priorities. Both Dr Besigye and Mr Lukwago have new fish to worry about. People Power and the premature exit of Gen Mugisha Muntu from FDC are keeping the Opposition busy. Ms Musisi elaborate PR was not suited for the return to direct handouts by the President.

Ms Musisi cut her losses early. She will be blamed little for the chaos that ensues as Ms Kamya seeks to cut Mr Lukwago further to size by removing him as speaker of the KCCA Council.

Mr Ssemogerere is an attorney-at-Law and an advocate. [email protected]

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