At the weekend meeting with President Museveni at State House, about 275 city councilors had no kind words for Jennifer Musisi, the executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority, KCCA.
Speaker after speaker told President Museveni that the ruling NRM’s political fortunes in Kampala’s five divisions will continue to be in perpetual free fall if the president doesn’t clips the wings of Musisi.
The councilors at the meeting were drawn from Kampala’s five divisions of Lubaga, Nakawa, Kampala Central, Makindye and Kawempe. During the April 24 meeting, some of the councillors, according to our sources, claimed that the concentration of power in the hands of Musisi had affected delivery of services in their divisions.
“When you need money to buy garbage skips, you must go to Musisi. If you want money to de-silt [clean] drainage channels, it is Musisi,” one councilor reportedly said.
Our source added that councilors said division mayors are at the mercy of Musisi and if you are in her bad books, she does not easily release money to you. Museveni assured them that he had talked to Musisi to improve her work methods. He added that he had already written widely about why he believes NRM lost in Kampala and, therefore, did not want to reopen old wounds.
The president told the councillors to put politics aside and work together to develop the city.
“You should not be misled by wrong elements,” Museveni said.
The councilors also urged Museveni to intervene in two court petitions that could have dire consequences for their individual political careers. The first is the Constitutional court petition filed by Mulindwa Muwonge, a journalist, seeking to have elective political offices (of lord mayor, division mayors and councilors) in Kampala abolished.
Among others, Mulindwa argues that positions in KCCA are supposed to be appointive like the case is in other authorities such as URA or UNRA. (Kampala is managed under a separate act, the Kampala Capital City Authority Act).
The second petition was filed by a concerned citizen who argued that Kampala is a city, not a district; and therefore the Electoral Commission erred in nominating Nabilah Naggayi to run for the “district” woman MP seat and other contestants. Many councillors fear that in the event that the court rules against Nabilah, it could have consequences for them.
In the meeting with the president, the councillors wondered why the EC had taken long to gazette (officially recognize their election) them if there was no foul play.
Museveni advised them to “stay calm and respect court processes.”
The meeting was attended by 275 councilors, majority of who were NRM members. Each was paid a transport refund of Shs 400,000, which translates into a total of Shs 110 million.
Some of the opposition- leaning councillors who attended the meeting are: Olive Namazzi, FDC (Nakawa), Badru Lubwama, DP (Kawempe), a one Nakitto, FDC (Kawempe) and Jackson Muwanga, a councilor from Nateete who belongs to the Erias Lukwago-led Truth and Justice, a pressure group.
We have been told that Gen Kale Kayihura, the inspector general of police, was the chief mobiliser for the meeting. Kayihura, using the vast security network in the various divisions of the city, helped mobilize the councilors for the meeting. For instance in Lubaga division, Abdullah Kitatta, the NRM chairman and a close ally of Kayihura, helped in the mobilization.
“He [Kayihura] made telephone calls to some councilors who were having second thoughts about attending the meeting,” one of his aides told us.
The aide told us that Kayihura’s involvement was not political but he recognizes that local leaders can play a role in ensuring stability in the city. In the Sunday meeting, Kayihura just sat and listened to the deliberations. After the meeting, he appeared in the councilors’ group photo with Museveni.
Yet Kayihura’s involvement appears not to have amused everyone at City Hall. Kayihura and Musisi have never been the best of friends.
Two years ago, Kayihura thwarted Musisi’s plan to reorganize boda boda riders in the city, saying it would jeopardize security arrangements. Sources said that Musisi suspects Kayihura was behind the intelligence reports this year blaming her for NRM’s poor performance in Kampala.
Robert Kalumba, the deputy spokesperson for KCCA, declined to respond to the councilors’ comments in the meeting.