Battle lines. Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s survival in office, as the previous term when he was “impeached” shows, depends on his relationship with councillors. But as Amos Ngwomoya reports, these councillors are being courted by Lukwago’s nemesis and Kampala Minister Beti Kamya, leading to a simmering war at City Hall.
Kampala Minister Beti Kamya on Tuesday invited hundreds of councillors from the five divisions of Kampala and Kampala Capital City Authority to meet President Museveni at his ranch in Kisozi, Gomba District.
On November 21 last year, Ms Kamya had invited at least 218 of them, both from the five city divisions and the Authority (City Hall) to the National Leadership Institute (NALI), Kyankwanzi for leadership training.
These meetings were always protested by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who for the past two years has been at loggerheads with Ms Kamya, with each of them trying to establish overlordship over the affairs of the city.
Mr Lukwago said the “training” that Ms Kamya said the councillors were to undergo at Kyakwanzi, which the ruling party has been accused of using as its indoctrination centre for decades, was just a rubberstamp of the NRM ideologies which the Minister wanted to impart to the councillors.
Mr Lukwago convened a crisis meeting to disassociate himself from the Kyankwanzi training but most of the councillors from the lower councils of the city attended it.
At least seven KCCA councillors out of 36 also attended the “training” and so did 201 out of 244 division councillors. The five city divisions and KCCA comprise a total of 280 councillors.
Before the councillors went for the “training”, there was a heated debate both at KCCA and in the divisions, with some people questioning the veracity of the training.
But observers argued that Ms Kamya, like her predecessor Frank Tumwebaze, was using all political maneuvers to compromise the councillors so that they could popularise her as the political head of the city.
New law mooted
For instance, a couple of months ago, Ms Kamya re-tabled the controversial KCCA Bill, which if passed into law, will give the Lord Mayor ceremonial roles and make the Minister, political head of the city.
Mr Lukwago fears that taking the councillors to Kyankwanzi without his consent as the political head of the city, could be one of the ways of frustrating his legislative powers through councillors who, he says, have since fallen prey to the Minister’s influence.
In an interview with this newspaper, the Minister said that councillors are mature people whose conscience she can’t compromise, adding that the Lord Mayor should leave her do her ministerial role.
“I am the Minister for Kampala and I superintend over KCCA. The councillors have been courting me for training for a long time and when I explained to the President, he endorsed their request. The Lord Mayor is just mistaken because there is no way I can influence mature people to defy him since they can make their own decision,” she said.
Ms Kamya also argued that for leaders to perfect their work in their respective constituencies, they must regularly have refresher courses which can equip them with better managerial and administrative skills.
Mr Bruhan Byaruhanga, the KCCA councillor representing Kyambogo University said when councillors attend any event organised by the minister, it doesn’t mean that they are being compromised.
“All councillors who attended the Kyankwanzi training are mature enough and none of them was forced to go. Personally, there is no way I could reject the training because it doesn’t only benefit me but also my people in the constituency,” Mr Byarughanga said.
The Lord Mayor accused Ms Kamya of frustrating council business but he noted that he wouldn’t give up because he can’t provide services without the instruments of power.
“The struggle is still on and we shall fight until we get what belongs to us as Kampala leaders and whether it means going to court, we shall go. It’s unfortunate that the Minister re-tabled the obnoxious KCCA Bill to Parliament but she will lose this battle,” he said.
The Lord Mayor warned the councillors who are dancing to the tunes of the Minister, saying that they could face the wrath of the voters. He also lashed at people who are telling him to give up, arguing that he can’t because he made a social contract with Kampala voters.
To underscore his fight for truth and justice, Mr Lukwago revealed that an agenda will be unveiled to define the next course of action.
Lukwago still has the numbers
However, unlike the previous term where majority of KCCA council was dominated by NRM councillors, the current council has the Opposition as the majority members, who believe in Mr Lukwago’s ideologies of rule of law, justice and equitable distribution of services.
All councillors who impeached Mr Lukwago in the previous term were voted out by the people. It is alleged that voters were irked for betraying a leader who was fighting for the common man.
This may partly explain why during council, Mr Lukwago gets less resistance from the councillors, especially when they are passing resolutions.
Since the political leaders at KCCA assumed office, they have passed a number of resolutions but majority of them have never been endorsed by the Minister, something that paints a pale picture on the independence of the council.
Mr Lukwago organised an end of year council meeting on December 15. According to the order paper, council was supposed to discuss the funding challenges for financial year 2017/18, structure of political governance at City Hall, Bills of ordinance and Public Accounts Committee and valuation reports, among and other standing committee reports.
However, the sitting flopped because there was no quorum. Before council convenes, there must be at least half of the members. On that day, the sitting was short of three members hence no quorum. Mr Lukwago postponed the meeting to January 10, 2018.
Although some sources said councillors had issues with the Lord Mayor, which needed to be ironed out, councillors we spoke too denied the claims.
“I am the head of the opposition councillors at KCCA and there was no reason the councillors could refuse to attend council. Some councillors were engaged in weddings and exams and that is why they did not attend. Personally, I was doing exams,” said Keneddy Okello (FDC), the Nakawa I Male councillor.
Mr Lukwago said he would give councillors the benefit of the doubt to attend the next meeting because it was the first time they didn’t show up for council.