Testifying as the 21st witness before the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire led tribunal investigating Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s official conduct, KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi outlined the mayor’s misdeeds and spoke of death threats against her life.
Lead counsel Daniel Rutiba and commissioners, Ocaya Lakidi and Alfred Okello Oryem were on hand to hear Musisi’s testimony. Derrick Kiyonga and Siraje Lubwama recorded the proceedings which lasted four hours.
Below are the excerpts:
Rutiba: My Lord, I’m the lead counsel, I’m assisted by counsel Titus Kamya. We have one witness today from KCCA’s technical wing but let me first introduce the other people.
There is Kiwanuka Kiryowa, Thomas Ocaya and Sam Sebuufu, counsels representing the petitioners. Any representative from the respondent (Lukwago)? (silence). We’re ready to proceed. (To Musisi) What is your faith?
Musisi: Christian. (She is handed a Bible and takes oath).
Rutiba: You’re the Executive Director of KCCA?
Musisi: I’m the one.
Rutiba: Look at the statement you made and the signatures there in and confirm that they are yours.
Musisi: It is my statement and the signatures are mine.
Rutiba: The witness having identified the statement, we wish to tender it in as evidence.
Bamugemereire: The statement of Jennifer Musisi is taken as exhibit P21.
Rutiba: Mrs Musisi, tell the tribunal about the background of your job.
Musisi: My name is Jennifer Musisi. I’m not a petitioner. I’m the executive director, accounting officer and head of public service in KCCA. I give legal advice to the authority and represent government.
Rutiba: Explain the genesis of the authority.
Musisi: It is a statuary body created under KCCA Act 2010. It was enacted in 2010 then implemented in 2011. I was appointed ED by the president on 15th April 2011. In the authority there is a political wing that is headed by the lord mayor who is responsible for convening KCCA meetings. His functions are well stipulated in the Act. The composition of the authority includes the lord mayor and the councilors.
There is a technical wing of the authority with 10 directors who were duly appointed by the Public Service Commission. The work of the technical team is supervised and monitored by the standing committee of the authority.
Rutiba: I beg to tender in the commencement instruments of KCCA (he does). How does the technical staff relate to the political wing?
Musisi: The technical wing implements policies and programmes made by the authority and the government. We have a dual working relationship because the funding of the infrastructure comes from central government.
Every year, we submit a working programme to the authority, for example, those of the engineering and works, come up with the roads to be repaired in each particular year from the divisions and submit them to the authority through standing committees.
So our role is to do technical work like studying traffic flow patterns, set up priorities in the city. As a technical wing, we appear before Parliament and the infrastructure committee to present what is to be done.
Rutiba: As a technical wing, how do you interact with the standing committees?
Musisi: Section 16 of the KCCA Act provides for standing committees. They oversee the 10 directorates of KCCA. These committees are supposed to have technical people to give advice on technical issues.
In these committees, the political leadership is supposed to present the needs of the people they represent. They are also supposed to have a supervisory role over the technical wing. These committees are supposed to come up with reports to be tabled before the authority for consideration.
Rutiba: What is the role of the ten directors?
Musisi: Each of the 10 directorates is supposed to take care of a certain sector. For example, the health directorate takes care of KCCA health centres, regulations to do with sanitation, prevention of diseases, etc.
There are also other directors concerned with education, social services, gender and community related issues, legal affairs. Each director reports to the respective standing committee through the Executive Director.
Rutiba: So the directorate would report to you and then you liaise with the standing committees?
Musisi: Yes, because I must ensure that the reports are in tandem with government resources and programmes.
Rutiba: What is the state of the standing committees now?
Musisi: standing committees were appointed in June 2011. Now, their period elapsed and the law requires that when their period elapses they must be elected afresh but now for over a year, the committees have been dysfunctional.
Rutiba: What did you do to correct this problem? I’m looking at paragraph 16 of your statement.
Musisi: I brought the matter to the attention of the lord mayor as the responsible person for convening the ordinary meetings that are supposed to appoint and approve the standing committees.
I have attached my efforts and that of the councilors as evidence. We raised this with the minister of Kampala for such to be constituted. The minister wrote a letter to the lord mayor which has been attached, directing him to convene meetings such that standing committees can be put in place but up to today, nothing has been done.
Rutiba: Looking at your exhibits, there is a letter dated 14th July 2012. Can you explain its contents?
Musisi: The letter was instructing the clerk to issue notices to the lord mayor such that he can convene ordinary meetings but nothing was done.
Rutiba: Look at this exhibit and refresh your mind. Was your advice prompted by the petition of the councilors?
Musisi: I gave the advice in my capacity as a legal advisor to the authority and also as the ED. Both the elected leaders and technical officers come to me and raise these issues.
Ocaya: As ordinary citizens, we see that everything is going on well, the city is being beautified, roads are being repaired. We do not understand the importance of these committees. How are these programmes being implemented without the committees?
Musisi: We work on behalf of the central government. We have government programmes to implement. When committees are not in place, we go ahead and do our work. Part of the role of the committees is to receive feedback from people of Kampala on what should be done.
Rutiba: How has the lack of committees hampered work at KCCA?
Musisi: The lack of these committees has greatly affected our work, taking for example last financial year; we had a revenue target which was going to come from enhanced penalties.
We’re supposed to come up with ordinances to support these penalties in order to collect more revenue from the public. So there were no committees to confirm the support of the penalties and we missed out on these revenues.
Furthermore, the public no longer participates in KCCA issues since councilors no longer interact with them. As a city you lose money because you pay political leaders who are doing nothing.
Rutiba: You say you gave advice to the lord mayor, how did he respond?
Musisi: The lord mayor did not convene the meetings neither did he do anything to make sure the committees were put in place.
Rutiba: Tell us the relationship between the lord mayor and the city minister under the Act.
Musisi: Under Section 11 of KCCA Act, the lord mayor is answerable to the authority and the minister.
Rutiba: How do you interpret the lord mayor’s failure to honour the minister’s letter?
Musisi: I noted that the lord mayor has not convened the ordinary meetings as directed by the minister.
Rutiba: Did the lord mayor respond to the minister?
Musisi: He gave some communication to the minister but I don’t recall the details of the letter.
Oryem: I notice your interaction with the political side is formal through letters with reference to the Act. Give us how business is conducted. Do you ever go to the lord mayor’s office or does he come to your office?
Musisi: Ideally, we would have to go beyond writing letters and have physical discussions but as things stand now, the law is a safe place for us to be. We want something that is legally sustainable. When the lord mayor took up office in May 2011, I personally took an initiative and invited him to my office. He came and we discussed several issues.
I personally took responsibility of renovating his parlor. I personally looked at the furnishing process. I invited him to have an input on what kind of furniture he wanted. I requested for his input in the budgeting process.
We toured his chambers and he requested for a shower and kitchen to be put in place and everything was done. I personally swore in the lord mayor and other councilors and I arranged for them a party at Serena [hotel] to which they ate and drank very well.
Subsequently, I and the lord mayor had meetings but from there onwards, I realised that we had divergent views on many issues. First, it was the contracts committee. He said we’re going to give out contracts worth billions of shillings to our relatives but I told him that he should leave such work to the technical people.
Rutiba: Have you made any efforts to have a working relationship with the lord mayor?
Musisi: I have made efforts to get a cordial relationship with the lord mayor but it was difficult because it seems we have different agendas.
But the tribunal must also appreciate the fact that the ED is appointed by the president and I’m working with a political leader from the opposition; inevitably we’re bound to clash since the agenda of the lord mayor proved contrary to mine.
One time I called the lord mayor for a meeting. He said he would come. He even gave me the date. I cancelled all my [other] programmes. I told him I would be available from 6am to 7pm. I waited... my personal assistant kept on calling him but he was not responding.
The lord mayor neither called nor sent me any message to tell me why he did not come. Even when the directors were appointed, I went to his parlour to introduce them to him but he was not there. The lord mayor has resorted to calling us prostitutes, terrorists, high-handed people.
In the process, he has abused the government that appointed us. So we resorted to work and kept away from politics. Even opposition leaders tried to bring us together but later gave up because it proved impossible.
Bamugemereire: Tell us more about the opposition leadership talks.
Musisi: We received a request from the DP president and the agenda was to find a solution to the problems of Kampala. Initially they came with the view that I was the problem. We held a meeting in my office and they assured me that they would talk to the lord mayor and see how to settle our differences.
But afterwards I received a message from them that they had failed to get any headway.
Ocaya: As ordinary people, we hear a lot of infighting in KCCA and we ask ourselves, how do you get round these problems when you are stuck with collecting revenues since policies haven’t been passed by the authority?
Musisi: We appreciate that the public recognises that there is work done. Our vision is to transform the city. A lot of things have been done since we’re implementing the policies we found in place but even then, the central government has put in a lot of effort to see that the city changes for the better.
Despite the challenges, we’re committed to service delivery. Where the policy makers fail, we go to the minister in charge of Kampala. For example, there was no Physical Planning Committee since the lord mayor had refused to call an ordinary meeting to approve it.
People were building illegal structures, over 2,000 building plans were not approved and businessmen were planning to sue us but the minister intervened and ordered the institution of the Physical Planning Committee.
Bamugemereire: A suit was instituted against you by the lord mayor. Was it because of lack of a good law or lack of good working relationship between the lord mayor and the technical team?
Musisi: The KCCA Act changed a lot of things, including the procurement procedures. The technical team deals with issues of procurement, revenue collection, disbursement, etc., while the political wing’s involvement is at policy formulation.
In the past, the political wing used to get involved in technical issues like procurement and now they have not yet adjusted to that fact. The gist of the suit was that I had usurped the lord mayor’s powers and from there onwards, things went from bad to worse.
Oryem: We’re told by the Clerk of the Authority that previously council had the speaker and now there is no speaker and both roles are with the lord mayor. What is your opinion on the absence of the speaker?
Musisi: The law under which we operate now does not provide for the speaker. I don’t understand why it was done like this. There is an aspect of merging the old dispensation into the new dispensation, yet again I have an opinion on whether there should be a speaker or not but I reserve it.
Oryem: Do you feel that the lord mayor has struggled in his job because he performs this dual role?
Musisi: Again I got my experience from a corporate setting. I have been sitting on various institutional boards.
I find great difficulty to understand why the lord mayor does not call these meetings because it is a matter of creating a schedule and fix dates to hold these meetings. To me as a technical person, I don’t understand how these politicians operate but I’m overstretched.
I have only 28% of the staff needed, so I need a lot of time to prepare once a meeting is called and we need two weeks’ notice. I don’t see any difficulties in calling these meetings with or without the speaker.
Bamugemereire: Let’s take a 15 minutes break.
Rutiba: (after break) look at annexure C and C1. These are opinions of the solicitor general and attorney general. Explain the circumstances under which these opinions were made.
Musisi: The lord mayor was calling special meetings without ample notice. Our opinion was that for special meetings to be convened we needed two weeks’ notice and the lord mayor refused, so we sought the opinion of both the solicitor general and attorney general.
The solicitor general’s opinion was that special meetings are to have a two weeks’ notice, if not they are illegal. Then when councilors sought the opinion of the attorney general, his opinion was that a 14 days’ notice does not apply to special meetings. He said ordinary meetings require a 14-day working notice.
Bamugemereire: Distinguish what has happened and what is supposed to happen?
Musisi: As a technical team, we’re supposed to lay out our reports to the authority through the standing committee. The two ordinary meetings that I attended were to approve the budget.
But the other 13 special meetings had agendas set by the lord mayor and the meetings normally ended acrimoniously; they could degenerate into insults and disarray. For us from the technical wing, we found it hard to understand how the lord mayor would invite MPs from places like Mukono and give them time to present their views despite objections from councilors.
The meetings would start late, a lot of time was wasted, discussions were sporadic, and deliberations would swing from one side to another without any direction. Because politicians would target the government in these meetings and even abuse the ED later on, they got more violent.
Councilors who were against the lord mayor were manhandled and beaten up. The lord mayor’s visitors would jeer and wait at the door and take on anyone who said anything they did not want.
Rutiba: What is the anomaly about holding two ordinary meetings and 13 special ones?
Musisi: Ordinary meetings are supposed to handle budget approval, receiving and approving reports from standing committees and receiving and approving minutes of authority meetings, while special meetings are supposed to handle emergency matters.
Rutiba: How does that become an anomaly?
Musisi: The ordinary meetings are supposed to handle routine issues at least once every three months but there have been attempts to handle issues in special meetings which would have been handled in ordinary meetings. There has been an attempt by the lord mayor to schedule approval of authority minutes, which is an anomaly.
Rutiba: What is the problem with the way the political wing has dealt with the issue of minutes?
Musisi: The minutes of every meeting of the authority are supposed to be recorded by the clerk, who gives them to me such that I proofread them and add my input.
Then they are supposed to be approved in the next session of an ordinary meeting. I have brought this to the attention of the lord mayor that without the confirmation of these minutes, they are of no legal effect but he has done nothing.
Rutiba: What is the consequence of not approving the minutes?
Musisi: The biggest consequence has been failure to deliver services to the people of Kampala since the budget of KCCA is 90% funded from local revenues. For the last financial year, we collected only 34% of what we’re supposed to collect yet the people of Kampala expect services.
The main issue came when taxi drivers went to court after refusing to pay Shs 120,000 per month. Court ruled that since the authority had not approved the fee, the fee was illegal. So we lost the case because the lord mayor refused to call the meeting to approve the fee.
And after the court ruling, we lost about Shs 2bn because he stopped the drivers from paying the fee until the minister stepped in and ordered the collection of the fee.
Rutiba: Talk about the issue of the deputy lord mayor.
Musisi: The authority approved his appointment but the minutes of that meeting haven’t been approved, making it difficult for me to activate renunciations for that office and [Sulaiman] Kidandala sued me saying I’m not paying him as if I am the one who approves minutes that appointed him.
Rutiba: How has this situation impacted on the technical team?
Musisi: The impact is undesirable to say the least. Since we have signed contracts and set targets for deliverables, we cannot do certain things like revenue enhancements and we have lost a lot of money; for instance as an accounting officer I’m embarrassed with the question: ‘Why are you paying political leaders who are doing nothing?’ We have lost Shs 28bn in remuneration to the political wing – I think this is a financial loss to the people of Uganda.
I have so far paid over Shs 2bn to the lord mayor; this is despite the fact that I have turned down requests from the lord mayor like travel, gifts to the public because we don’t have money yet he frustrates our efforts to collect revenue. We have come to a point where we can no longer pay for the political leaders’ remuneration. (She tenders in the breakdown of lord mayor’s payments so far).
Rutiba: How has the lord mayor demonstrated lack of political will to transform Kampala?
Musisi: He has been uttering words that reflect that he does not want any change in Kampala. He opposes everything that management comes up with, whether it is relocating illegal vendors, building Wandegeya market, renovating the new taxi park and re-branding of KCCA.
We have met resistance because the lord mayor has politically mobilised people against us. He has acted contrary to his position; he has embarrassed the institution he is supposed to serve. As the ED, I’m in charge of PR (public relations) but we found it hard to clean the authority’s image because of his embarrassing behaviour.
For instance, he stormed the magistrate court sitting at city hall, released all the suspects and left the session in disarray. He was arrested. This embarrassed the authority he leads. (She adduces the DPP’s letter regarding the case against Lukwago).
Rutiba: Talk about the issue of the lord mayor’s vehicle?
Musisi: When the lord mayor came into office, there was a vehicle that the previous mayor Sebaggala [Nasser] was using. Though it was a good vehicle it wasn’t in good shape. So the lord mayor used his personal car but we used to compensate him by giving him Shs 4m for the fuel and tyres per month.
As ED, I ensured that the lord mayor gets a brand new car since he was making a lot of noise about it.
As soon as I handed it over to him, he called a press conference and alleged that I had inflated the vehicle’s procurement fee for my personal enrichment.
He then took the vehicle to Kisekka market such that his local mechanics could inspect it, saying I had put in grenades to kill him.
Bamugemereire: In your view, what do you want the tribunal to do?
Musisi: I would like the tribunal to be sensitive to the broader issues concerning KCCA, the way the law was formulated that the ED be appointed by the government, but it creates an opportunity to a person opposed to government, who also wields significant power, which creates an immense challenge.
We’re hampered by politics and deliberate efforts to undermine what we’re doing by some political leaders. There has been personal interest in the affairs of KCCA from political leaders who are pushing for personal interests, especially when it comes to reclaim[ing] green belts and tax levy.
Management has endeavoured to restore the reputation of the city but the lord mayor and his supporters are working hard to bring down the work done by the technical team.
Mayors Lukwago, Munyagwa [Mubarak] and Nyakaana [Amooti] have been violent and at times disorganise our staff. Death threats have been issued against me and my staff. Our staff have been injured by groups of violent people organised by politicians.
All kinds of attacks have been instigated against me, including songs composed to discredit the ED. There is a lot of money wasted on litigation on cases filed by the lord mayor and other frivolous petitions filed in Parliament, still by him.
Bamugemereire: We want to thank you for coming. As a tribunal, this marks the end of the petitioner’s side. We’re going to the next step to ensure that the Respondent [Lukwago] is afforded time to respond to the allegations.
As a tribunal we’re ordering the secretary to take out a hearing notice to the lord mayor, requiring him to appear before the tribunal on the 22nd of July. We’re also going to supply him with all the petitioner’s statements and exhibits to enable him appear and defend himself. (Time check: 8:30pm).
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