Uganda: Crisis At KCCA As Kitaka's Acting Tenure Ends

18 November 2019

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has warned that Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) acting executive director, Mr Andrew Kitaka's, continued employment without regularisation is placing government at risk of litigation.

Justice Ralph Ochan, the PSC chairperson in a September 9 letter to the Minister of Kampala, Ms Beti Kamya, cited a PSC meeting on September 6 where he said members had observed that Mr Kitaka's appointment must be regularised.

"Without a formal acting appointment, the decisions of the acting executive director if challenged in court, would jeopardise service delivery and also lead to litigation...Mr Kitaka's continued unregularised stay in office was likely to lead to audit queries," Justice Ochan wrote.

The uncertainty over Mr Kitaka's appointment and that of his deputy, Mr Samuel Sserunkuuma, has created a functional crisis at City Hall.

Last week, the duo was barred from presenting to the KCCA Council the 2020/21 budget because they are deemed to be holding their positions illegally.

The acting tenure of Mr Kitaka, whose substantive position is director for engineering and technical services, elapsed in May. Mr Sserunkuuma's acting tenure also elapsed. He is the finance director.

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago told council that he had information that Mr Kitaka and his deputy's tenure in acting capacities had elapsed.

At this point, councillors raised a point of order in which it was agreed the none of the duo had the mandate to present the budget.

Mr Lukwago said the law provides that public officers are not supposed to serve in acting capacity beyond six months.

Budget queries

He also said the budget proposal does not reflect the vision of a modern city because it focuses on recurrent expenditures leaving out key issues such as staff capacity building and community development and welfare sectors.

In a November 14 document to council, Mr Lukwago cited several anomalies at City Hall, including abuse of power, failed financial accountability and misuse of revenue.

"It is mandatory to publish and submit quarterly reports of all procurements and disposals made during that quarter. No such reports have been made or submitted," he stated.

However, the KCCA spokesperson, Mr Peter Kaujju, yesterday dismissed the claims, saying no money has been spent outside the laid down procedures. "We spend every single penny in accordance with audit procedures and present reports to all relevant bodies. At KCCA, we don't flout financial laws," Mr Kaujju said.

Mr Lukwago also cited a case where Shs300m was paid to outsourced lawyers in a suit between KCCA and its employees.

"My office continues to receive glaring irregularities regarding ongoing staff validation. I was shocked that when the matters eventually went to court, management unilaterally sourced legal services of outside lawyers at a whopping sum of Shs300m," he said.

The Lord Mayor said such a payment was abnormal, especially at a time when KCCA was trying to pay Shs14b to former lawyers, Ssendege & Company Advocates.

However, Mr Kitaka yesterday said it was fitting that KCCA hired a private lawyer to handle the case since "our in-house law firm had conflict of interest in that a number of staff in the Legal Affairs Directorate are temporary staff".

"Secondly, the amount to be paid is not Shs300m. It is around Shs35m. This matter is being deliberately blown out of proportion. Regarding Sendege law firm, this was a matter that crossed over from KCC (Kampala City Council, KCCA predecessor) and was handled prior to my time as acting executive director. It was a subject of protracted litigation," Mr Kitaka said.

Ms Kamya did not respond to our calls for a comment on Mr Lukwago's claims but her personal assistant, Mr Mohammad Kamya, said whatever her boss does is backed by the law.

The Lord Mayor had accused Ms Kamya of withholding ordinances that were submitted to her for scrutiny before onward transmission to the Attorney General for final approval.

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