With a by-election planned for May, presidential advisor Nasser Ntege Sebaggala has confirmed he will try to get a third term as mayor of Kampala.
Despite open rebukes from the opposition, the Electoral Commission (EC) set May as the tentative month for the by-election to replace City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago who is fighting to re-enter his office after a botched censure by a section of NRM-leaning KCCA councillors last year.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Sebaggala, a two-time Kampala mayor, said he had been prepping himself for a third run.
“After anticipating that Erias Lukwago might not complete his term because of his fighting tendencies, I began preparing for a re-run and have been running my adverts for the post in various media organizations and in case the by-election is declared, I will resign as a presidential advisor and compete,” Sebaggala said.
Promising to consolidate “his achievements” in the 1996 –2011 tenure, Sebaggala said he had also been meeting his supporters and party members in various parts of the country.
“Because of the vigorous campaign I made for President Museveni when my party signed an alliance with the ruling NRM, I doubt whether the party will field a candidate when I stand for this position; I expect their full support in return,” Sebaggala adds.
He said during his time as mayor, he lobbied for huge sums of money from the World Bank and other international agencies, which has not been put to good use at City hall because of the wrangling between Lukwago and KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi.
He claims he lobbied for $130m (Shs 325bn) from the World Bank to upgrade city infrastructure, $140m (Shs 350bn) for the construction of six markets, $120m (Shs 300bn) for the construction of several city health centres and $17.5m (Shs 43bn) for upgrading some health centres in places like Kisenyi, Kiruddu, Wabigalo, Kawaala, Kawempe and Kisaasi to sub-hospitals.
“Out of the $130m, only $30m has been used because of Lukwago’s wrangles, and of the six markets lined up for construction only the one at Wandegeya has so far been constructed, not mentioning another 9.5m Euros [Shs 32 bn] meant for construction of roads in places like Katwe and Komamboga. It is only me who can accomplish these projects and lobby for other funds,” Sebaggala added.
Formerly a member of the Democratic Party, Sebaggala won the first direct elections for mayor in 1998, beating two government-sponsored candidates, among others. His first stint as mayor was cut short by his arrest in the United States in June that year. He was convicted on eight counts of fraud and of lying to US custom officials.
After his trial, in February 1999, Sebaggala earned a 15-month jail sentence but was paroled in December 1999 and returned to a warm welcome in February 2000. He then weighed a presidential run in the 2001.
When he left DP, Sebaggala formed the Liberal Party which later allied with the ruling NRM. He campaigned for President Museveni in 2011 and subsequently was appointed as minister without Portfolio. That appointment was blocked by the House Appointments committee for lack of academic qualifications.
The chairman of the Kampala District Land Board, Yusuf Nsibambi, who had been reportedly weighing a mayoral run, told The Observer at the weekend, that a May by-election would be a sham.
“Me as an advocate of the court of judicature, I cannot snub a court order and participate in an illegal election which is null and void because the Electoral Commission as a government institution under the Constitution is supposed to honour court orders, whether served to them or not,” Nsibambi said.
Nsibambi, also linked to the Makindye West parliamentary seat, said: “I’m not looking for jobs and I cannot offer myself under the prevailing laws. Whoever will participate in the 2016 elections be it from FDC or the ruling party without electoral reforms will only be legitimizing the current dictatorship…,” Nsibambi said.
Mabikke, the president general of the Social Democratic Party and a losing mayoral candidate to Lukwago, said;
“I don’t follow speculation. I believe a by-elation is a sham and I have no comment…”
But quietly, insiders say, Mabikke is firmly preparing to recapture his Makindye East parliamentary seat in 2016. He has revived his annual ‘Mabikke’ cup football and netball competitions, starting with Ggaba parish. Mabikke represented Makindye East for two terms; first as a DP candidate, then as an Independent.
EC officials, however, insist that come May 2014, they will announce a day for nominations because officially they were informed by Musisi that the mayoral post fell vacant late last year when Lukwago was censured by KCCA councillors.
Councillor Bernard Luyiga last week announced he was in the running too.
Former candidate Peter Sematimba, who lost the last mayoral race, declined to say whether he was still interested in the planned by-elections. He said: “I’m not interested in speaking about my life in the papers. Other people write and speak but I will not say anything.”
Embattled Lord Mayor Lukwago himself declined to comment, saying he is not the one who organises elections.