CITY DIVISION MAYORS GANG UP ON LORD MAYOR LUKWAGO
By Our Reporters
The City Division Mayors have decided to risk their political careers by going head on with the very popular Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago whom they accuse of not doing enough to help them regain their powers. The Division Mayors are unhappy that KCCA/City Hall recently went through the budgeting process without their input yet much of service delivery and revenue collection takes place in their Divisions. In this brewing standoff, the 5 Division Mayors are led by Makindye’s Ali Mulyanyama the others being Kawempe’s Emmanuel Serunjogi, Kampala Central’s Charles Musoke Serunjogi, Nakawa’s Ronald Balimwezo and Rubaga’s Joyce Sebugwawo. They are unanimously demanding to have their own budgets and to be assigned town clerks who have power over finances. They say the TCs they have today are idle seated in office doing nothing. “What I’m I Mayor for if I can’t even buy a toilet paper for my office? Everything we are depending on city hall. Can you imagine I leave home at 10am because my car must go to Rubaga to fuel and with all the jam by the time it returns its 10am? The grader goes to town for fuel as if we can’t buy fuel from within our Divisions; this centralization of powers is becoming too much for us to bear. We are tired of being like statues and we feel betrayed our colleagues at City Hall. The Lord Mayor and his councilors are indifferent about our plight,” said one of the Division Mayors who was reluctant to be quoted fearing reprisals from voters amongst whom (the Mayor admitted) Lukwago is very popular making it politically risky to publicly antagonize him. The obstinate Division Mayors have since protested by shunning all Authority meetings at City Hall chaired by Lukwago who accuses them of being under Kampala Minister Beti Kamya’s influence. “I don’t know what she has promised them but what is clear is that they are working to execute her program aimed at frustrating and disempowering the Authority,” said Lukwago.
DDAMBA DEFENDS L/MAYOR:
But Rubaga III Authority Councilor Ddamba Ismail didn’t mince words insisting it was high time gloves come off. “Who are they to gang up against the Lord Mayor? To us that is the red line which they have crossed because anything that disempowers him is poisonous to us as well. We can’t exist as Authority without a strong Lord Mayor,” said Ddamba adding that Rubaga Mayor Sebugwawo recently expelled him from Rubaga council meetings because he opposed resolutions intended to weaken the Lord Mayor.
“We have a problem of understanding. Our colleagues seem to have limited understanding of basic things. I’m an ex-officio in Rubaga Council but that day they were passing resolutions chasing the company that was long time ago contracted to collect garbage. I told them this is ideal because it will please the voters but it’s legally improper. You can’t do that to a person with a valid contract because KCCA will lose money for breach. They didn’t like that. Sebugwawo chased me saying I was working with the Technical wing at City Hall to weaken Divisions. Now I can’t sit there yet I’m entitled to represent my people there as an ex-officio.” Ddamba also explained areas of great disagreement between City Hall and Division Mayors. “We refused the idea that we must first meet Museveni through Beti Kamya in order to get services in Kampala but our colleagues the Division Mayors have been trying to clandestinely meet him through a certain MP. We are saying that is wrong. It’s unnecessary and we are against it,” Ddamba said quoting Central Division Mayor Serunjogi as saying he wasn’t for defiance and nobody will therefore stop him from meeting the big man to discuss development for his people. We rang Serunjogi but our calls weren’t picked. Ddamba also referred to Nakawa Mayor Balimwezo who, working with private companies in Nakawa, organized a business dinner to which he invited Museveni as guest of honor. “He invited us too as City Hall but we shunned it because we can’t meet Museveni. He didn’t come but Beti Kamya represented him,” Ddamba explained. He said the Division Mayors, under Kamya’s influence, even acquiesced to the meeting their councilors had with Museveni after their Kyankwanzi retreat.
“The Lord Mayor and Authority are innocent. We met and resolved that they get some of the powers they are clamoring for, there is a resolution to that effect that is well minuted. Everything was passed on to their favorite Minister Beti Kamya who betrayed them by not taking it to cabinet as was supposed to be the case. She has instead duped them to support her amendments to the KCCA Act to reduce the Lord Mayor’s powers and leave him for only ceremonies. She has duped them that they should support power to go to cabinet which will delegate it to her and thereafter she will delegate it to the Divisions. I’m surprised such adults can fall for such deception. This is why we think there is more than meets the eye regarding what she has promised or has already given them,” says Ddamba adding that since becoming Minister, Kamya has been looking for loopholes were to pass to antagonize the Lord Mayor with other elected leaders. “It seems she has finally got allies to fight the Lord Mayor and the voters are watching. It’s up to her and them but for us as Authority we are unanimously behind the Lord Mayor and we shall explain to the voters the treachery of the Mayors,” he said adding that voters are ready to immediately act and make life risky for any elected leaders that open war on the Lord Mayor. This possibility of voters making life risky seems to be true because none of the Division Mayors is apparently prepared to be on record attacking Lukwago having seen how voters in 2016 punished councilors who betrayed him. Nakawa’s Eng Balimwezo, who Lukwago rebuked during his BBS TV appearance on Saturday, denied fighting Lukwago as BBS had earlier on reported. “He is my boss and I can’t fight him but all I said and I’m still saying is that since he is the rule of law General, let him help us get what we are demanding for because that is the law. How do you pass a new budget without a review on the previous one? How do you exclude the views of the voters in the budgeting process? The voters’ views come through us the Divisions but we have been excluded this time round and my boss had promised to stand with us on this to ensure we successfully push for our rights against the Technical wing,” said Balimwezo whose discussion with Mulengera news seemed to imply that the problem was not Kamya but the technical wing at City Hall. But Ddamba disputes this alleged exclusion of Division Mayors from the budgeting process.
He says: “They were duly invited but they boycotted and they are bitter because we as Authority Councilors participated against their advice to boycott.”
Ddamba adds that this decision to boycott was meant to help Kamya undermine both the ED and the Lord Mayor. But Balimwezo faulted the Authority Councilors for not being hard enough on the ED Jennifer Musisi. But Ddamba differed: “Why should I blame Musisi when she is clearly blameless. They should blame the Minister who is supposed to take their matter to Cabinet and she has refused to do so after us as the Authority passed it.” Besides devolution of powers, which Lukwago’s Authority is well minuted backing, the Division Mayors are making other demands including amendment in the law so that they can make their own budget as opposed to centralized budgeting at City Hall. They also want Division Councilors and Mayors to have a minimum of S4 and the S6 as the minimum for the Lord Mayor and Authority Councilors. They are also not very hostile to Kamya’s proposal to have a Speaker and Deputy Speaker to chair the Authority meetings as opposed to being chaired by the Lord Mayor.
Ddamba says: “That is very poisonous and it’s a plot by Beti Kamya to further weaken the Lord Mayor and they are unknowingly helping her achieve that not knowing there is no way Museveni who resents a powerful Lord Mayor for Kampala can tolerate 5 lower Mayors being empowered. ” He adds that Beti Kamya has duped the Mayors by asking them to support her amendments first after which she will delegate more powers to them than City Hall is currently doing. Kamya says it’s wrong for the Authority to have power to make policy for the city insisting that is the role of Cabinet. This clearly is another area of disagreement because City Hall believes it’s better to leave the law as it is than voting for Kamya’s amendments yet as Balimwezo put it, the Division Mayors believe change in the law is long overdue. They consider that the current KCCA Act is vague regarding their powers.
City Hall maintains that there was a committee that was instituted to harmonize these differences and the Mayors are represented by two colleagues but the Mayors say that committee wasn’t created in good faith. Balimwezo specifically said “it was created to just buy time and defeat our demands.” Balimwezo admitted existence of differences in approach between the Mayors and the Authority Councilors. “They believe in Defiance only and that is the ticket on which they were elected. Mine is different. It’s a combination of both defiance and service delivery. I must lobby for development of my people and to do that I need to be empowered through the budgeting process. But I’m also not against defiance because when the government tried to frustrate Lukwago’s inauguration, I’m the one who led the defiance match in town and you saw how I was brutalized.
So in combine both unlike my friends at City Hall who are only for defiance, ”said Balimwezo vigorously denying claims that he abused the Lord Mayor on BBS and disputed his consistence as a rule of law general. The Division Mayors derive strength from the fact that even the President supports their bid to have more powers devolved downwards to them but, as Ddamba puts it, associating with Museveni to legitimize one’s views is an acceptable for majority elected political leaders at City Hall. In response to Ddamba’s view that it’s high time gloves came off, Balimwezo said: “Confrontation won’t help because we are all adults elected by our voters otherwise it will be a very big mistake for them to think the Mayors are going to be politically intimidated by anyone.
In any case we are this time round very firm in our views.” Ddamba confirmed being aware of the fact that the Division Mayors have been holding regular meetings plotting how to please Kamya by fighting the Lord Mayor and the entire Authority, a claim Balimwezo dismissed as untrue. “We are ready for them because we have the facts and the truth on our side and they will have nowhere to hide once we begin explaining to the people,” said Ddamba adding on this matter, the elected political leaders at City Hall where unanimous regardless of party differences.For comments on this and other Mulengera news stories, call/text us on 0703164755.