By Mulengera Reporters
Last week during his mobilization tour of his Buddu County (Masaka), the Kabaka of Buganda roared showing dissatisfaction with the fact that, despite the heavy price it paid in NRA’s final push to capture Kampala in 1986, Masaka had been excluded from pioneer new cities commencing in July 2020.
Local government Minister Tom Butiime’s proposal was to elevate Masaka in July 2023, something that sparked anger and increased pressure on NRM area heavyweights like VP Sekandi, Ministers Vincent Sempijja and Haruna Kasolo.
The euphoria created by Kabaka’s public pronouncements had incited area residents and leaders to plot a demonstration similar to what Mbale leaders did prompting Speaker Kadaga to decree that Mbale must be among the first cities.
Desire to preempt the planned strike, that was threatening to lead to ethnic sentiments being expressed, prompted Butiime to drive to Masaka on Wednesday where he had a meeting with area leaders at Hotel Brovad. The meeting went on well except that the things Butiime said have since been misunderstood to imply as if he said Masaka commences next July whereas not.
In multiple interviews with Mulengera News, officials at Butiime’s local government ministry have said it’s simply not possible for Masaka to get onto the list of July 2020.
They are giving many reasons including financial implications with the Finance Ministry not being able to get money to simultaneously implement all the cities. The other reason being given is the fact that actually Masaka area leaders misinformed the Kabaka on the Municipality’s readiness to elevate to city status. “They deliberately took advantage of the Kabaka’s visit to demonize government because you need district resolutions from Kalungu and Lwengo districts permitting Kalungu Rural and Kingo Sub Counties respectively to be annexed to Masaka City. From the intelligence we have it’s not going to be easy for the LC5 chairpersons because they anticipate resistance in their respective councils. It will have to be a consultative process and anything is possible,” an official of the Local Government ministry anonymously told Mulengera News this Thursday evening.
“I don’t want to be on record because that matter is now very sensitive since the Kabaka has weighed in and it appears the decision will have to come from the very top but it’s not going to be easy as it seems.”
As the technocrats reflect on their fears, we in this article highlight the broader implications of Masaka becoming a city. The guidelines for the new cities are that each must have a minimum of 4 Divisions or Municipalities which have been equated to a County or Constituency status.
This simply means Masaka, which has been with one MP constituency represented by Mathias Mpuuga (who Mukasa Mbidde wants out), will now have four MPs minus the woman MP. A local government ministry official explained to Mulengera News that, because they are equated to a district, each of the cities will also be entitled to having a woman MP.
This increased number of Parliamentary seats simply means there will be reduced pressure on the hitherto-endangered incumbents like Mpuuga and less hassle for new entrants like Mbidde to undertake before being able to accomplish their mission come 2021.
In the broader scheme of things, DP whose supporters numerically dominate Masaka district is clearly having an opportunity to grow its numerical strength in the 11th Parliament.
LC5 Chairman Jude Mbabali is a big loser in case he still intends to remain in that position because he will be leading a district whose geographical reach has been tremendously diminished. It will also mean diminished revenue collection as Masaka district itself is to lose some Sub Counties that have previously not been part of the Municipality.
The city status comes with new employment opportunities especially for the DP diehards because each of the four Divisions will also have a Mayor, a town clerk and its own Municipal Council as well as well-earning councilors.
For the common man, the new city is a double-edged sword because (whereas it brings development with things like increased water and electricity coverage as well increased access to better hospital facilities, ambulances and road infrastructure), the tax burden will also increase as the new city authorities must rely on taxation to raise revenue and provide services.
That is why things like payment of Multiplex parking fees will now have to be introduced as the new city order begins to be enforced. Those seeking to construct houses will have to meet higher standards and requirements before being permitted to erect new homes in the new city that comes with higher housing planning standards.
A source close to the Presidency says Museveni’s long term plan is to turn the entire Uganda into an urban polity because being geographically a small entity, the 100% urbanization dream is achievable especially once the oil revenues begin trickling in and industrialization intensifies once NPA unveils the NDP III whose focus is on industrialization and mass access to electricity.
Indeed a top MLoG official told Mulengera News that Museveni recently told them to work knowing that with oil revenues beginning to come in, his unstoppable dream is to gradually turn the whole country into a city just like is the case with territorially equally small countries like Britain.
The creation of the 9 cities Butiime has phased will also be an opportunity for Uganda to catch up with other regional powers like Kenya and Tanzania which have more than one city. MLoG sources say on average a minimum of Shs4bn is required to kick start each of the 9 cities and should Museveni consider it politically expedient and move into rolling out all of them at once say in July 2020, then the rest of the Ministries will have to have their budgets significantly cut to raise the resources required to implement the much awaited cities. Watch this space for more on the implications and what it generally means for an area to become a city. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at email@example.com).