Parliament last month passed the Kampala Capital City Amendment Bill 2019. The bill which was first introduced in 2015, was seen as a victory for the Lord Mayor since it handed the Executive powers left to the Lord Mayor. The bill has also created executive committee of four people who will work for the Lord Mayor.
However, inside sources close to the president have informed us that it is unlikely that the president will sign the bill. The sources said that in its current form, the president is most likely set to send it back to parliament for review since he doesn’t agree with some of the clauses within the bill.
The bill appears to give the Lord Mayor, the opposition stalwart Erias Lukwago, more powers – something the President might not approve. The new Bill grants the lord mayor the responsibility of managing the budget of the authority and somewhat reduces the Executive Director (ED) to offering technical assistance to the lord mayor.
The law being amended had weakened the elected lord mayor’s office by creating a powerful office of Executive Director and buffering it with a Minister for Kampala all appointed by the President. By altering the powers of the Lord Mayor, the ED, and the Minister, the Bill aims to avoid turf conflicts that have plagued KCCA for almost 10 years. At the back of the chaos lies Museveni’s wish to wrestle control of the city’s political leadership from the opposition, represented by Lukwago.
The Bill proposes the creation of an executive committee appointed by the lord mayor from amongst councilors. The committee would initiate key issues for legislation by councilors. It further gives the lord mayor the authority to appoint his deputy and two other supporting members to serve with him on a full-time basis. It also proposes a ‘State of the City’ address by the lord mayor to be held annually as an update to the public on the state of affairs.
With such powers being granted to the Lord Mayor, the president views this as detrimental to his efforts to crush the opposition within Kampala. The president made it his preoccupation to ensure that the opposition in Kampala is weakened. Lukwago, a pillar of the opposition within the city, was seen as a vanquished voice when he engaged in running battles with former KCCA ED, Jennifer Musisi. Their battles stemmed from the ambiguity within the law.
The fights seemed to work for Museveni who always said that Lukwago hasn’t worked for the people and he is instead always fighting development. The president further appointed Beti Kamya as Kampala Minister, with an unofficial job description of ensuring the collapse of opposition political support within the city.
The newly amended bill is thus viewed as a kick in the teeth for Museveni and he is unlikely to assent to it.