By John V Sserwaniko
Last weekend, we exclusively run a story showing that NPA (basically the President’s think tank on economic matters) was objecting to the manner in which Local Government Minister Tom Butiime was pushing for the creation of new Cities effective July 2019. The National Planning Authority’s concern, contained in a well-articulated paper, was that Butiime’s Cities were distorting Vision 2040 which provides for creation of regional and strategic Cities as part of the broader approach for Uganda’s total transformation. There is emphasis on comprehensive planning to carry everybody along. The NPA paper (that could eventually sway the President) also faulted Butiime for proceeding without carrying out adequate consultation among concerned stakeholders regarding these Cities.
THE NEW DEVTS
Now sections of Kabarole district residents (for whom Butiime says is creating Fort Portal Tourism City) have fraternized with NPA welcoming the views contained in the paper signed by ED Dr. Joseph Muvawala and Prof Sam Obwoya Kinyera. With the professional support of Byamukama, Kaboneko & Co Advocates (a prominent Kampala law firm), the leaders and residents of rural Karambi Sub County (Burahya Constituency) have petitioned Butiime protesting the manner in which their Kabarole district chairman Richard Rwabuhinga and other political leaders are going about the elevation of Fort Portal Municipality into City. They say their views aren’t being listened to.
The petitioners (whose lawyer James Byamukama continues to face hostilities from Butiime including being locked out of the 18th April meeting with Karambi residents & leaders) petitioned the Local Government Ministry arguing whereas they welcome the City development, they are aggrieved with the manner in which Rwabuhinga & his allies were going about the whole thing.
Procedurally, they argued, that the Kabarole District Local Government (KBLG) resolution on which Butiime based to secure Cabinet approval to elevate Fort Portal was defective as it was rooted in 2015 lower local government’s resolutions that had been rescinded. They want Minute KABCOU 253/03/2019 to be expunged from government records because it was derived from a fatally defective process. The petitioners’ Karambi Sub County is affected by the new City elevation because Rwabuhinga and Municipality MP Alex Ruhunda, who they say are doing everything with 2021 elections in mind, want to make them part of the new City without adequately consulting them.
The Local Council leaders of Karambi claim those pushing for the City have been using money and false promises (such as OWC benefits & jobs in the new City) to dupe Karambi residents to sign unexplained papers evidencing their support for their Sub County’s annexation onto the new Fort City. The petitioners say they want to be respected as equal stakeholders rather than money being used to manipulatively secure the consent of their electors. In a petition copied to Speaker Kadaga, they also protest exclusion from processes leading up to the operationalization of the new City.
There are also concerns that their elected leaders like Burahya County MP Margaret Muhanga haven’t been adequately involved in the decision-making leading to the new City. Indeed during the 18th April meeting (which Butiime had with Karambi leaders consequent to their petition), Muhanga made this complaint to the Minister wondering why she being suspiciously excluded regarding inclusion of Karambi Sub County. She told Butiime he shouldn’t just look on when a well-intentioned City creation process initiated by his Ministry is being manipulated and abused by politicians to settle old scores. She implied areas to be annexed to the new Fort City were being determined in a manner that favors some politicians’ 2021 reelection while marginalizing others. There was standing ovation as people at the meeting confessed Muhanga was speaking for many.
In that same Karambi meeting (at which he was escorted by MLOG officials Jacqueline and Urban Dev’t Commissioner Nuwagaba whose insensitive comments created more animosity), Butiime showed frustration over intrigue and lack of consensus among Kabarole politicians. And in the end, a clearly distraught Butiime is minuted to have said he would omit Fort City on his list of Cities and proceed operationalizing other Cities whose beneficiaries were unanimous and ready to have them effective July 2019. He said this was very saddening but life has to go on until Kabarole politicians will generate adequate consensus on the City.
OPEN RESENTMENT 4 BUTIME
Councilors Joseph Mashuhuko and Lillian Bagonza, who represent Karambi Sub County on Kabarole District Council, told Butiime they aren’t necessarily opposed to Fort City establishment but want his Ministry to strictly comply with the requirements stipulated in Section 7(2)(b) of the Local Government Act; clearly requiring consultation. The duo protested and considered it arrogance for Commissioner Nuwagaba to tell them that as Minister, Butiime has power to annex their Sub County to the Fort City regardless of whether its adequately urbanized or not. They also showed contempt for Commissioner Nuwagaba’s remarks cautioning them against being too legalistic but concentrate on realization of Vision 2040’s regarding Cities. There was so much animosity towards Butiime to the extent that Sub County councilors (Annet Kansabe, Josephat Busobozi, Monday Robert, Mary Bonabana, Kirungi Violet, Godfrey Mwanguhya & others present) defied his call on them to register their attendance on the lists his team distributed. They told the Minister “we don’t want our names and signatures to be manipulatively used to justify causes we don’t believe in.” This is something that greatly belittled and demystified Butiime who is ideally supposed to be a well-respected political elder throughout Toro.
Butime was also told in no uncertain terms that Karambi doesn’t believe in the alleged consensus contained in a report that was produced by Toro Elders Forum boss Beatrice Kiraso regarding which Sub Counties should be annexed onto the Fort City and which ones remain out to comprise whatever remains of Kabarole District Local Government.
They said Kiraso, whose report indicates input from Bishops (Robert Muhirwa & Reuben Kisembo) and other clergy as well as opinion leaders, never consulted them as they waited but her team never turned up twice on the appointed dates. Ironically the Rwabuhinga-led district council also rejected the Kiraso report saying it doesn’t bind anyone since KDLG never tasked them to do the consultations they purport to have carried out.
Arguing it might be altered by MLOG officials, the Karambi leaders have since delivered a record of proceedings of the Butiime meeting to Speaker Kadaga whose office they had previously petitioned. During the Karambi meeting, Butiime was also urged to shun Rwabuhinga, Alex Ruhunda and other politicians whom Karambi councilors accused of “hijacking and monopolizing” processes leading to the creation of Fort City. Their lawyers say this exclusion has caused “public resentment and divided public opinion towards the [establishment of] Fort City.”
Butiime was notified that Karambi won’t hesitate humiliatingly dragging him to court should the selfish politicians continue messing up processes leading to the Fort City. Butiime was also told of a raid by the Togikwatako mob hired by leaders outside Karambi that raided the Sub County to disrupt the meeting on the day councilors sat to rescind the 2015 resolution clearing Karambi’s annexation onto Fort City.
This change of heart resulted from the elevation of Adolf Mwesige’s Bunyangabu County into a district prompting Burahya residents to imagine they too might qualify for district status someday. Butiime was repeatedly told that the circumstances under which the following areas were designated for inclusion into Fort City was clearly aimed at securing some politicians’ 2021 election victory while crippling their political adversaries in the broader Kabarole political calculus.
The areas designated for inclusion onto the Fort City (as contained in Butiime’s presentation to Cabinet) include Karambi SC, Karago Town Council, Bukuku SC, Mugusu SC, Mugusu TC, Kiko TC, Rutale SC, Karangura SC, Kasenda SC and Ibaale which is the only parish being annexed from Busoro SC. What remains out of Fort City (which won’t be part of Kabarole district anymore) is what remains as KDLG. During the Karambi meeting, Butiime was told these new demarcations were hugely influenced by Rwabuhinga (the LC5 Chairman) to basically secure his 2021 election victory.
What makes the Tourism City saga even more complicated for elderly Butiime is the fact that stakeholders in current Fort Portal Municipality mistrust Kabarole District leaders following suggestions that the new City should be called Kabarole Tourism City in which case the Municipality becomes one of the two Divisions comprising the City. Sources near him say all this rope-pulling has combined to make Butiime emotionally a very stressed man. That the involvement of the clergy too has failed to yield any consensus must be very troubling for Butiime. The clergy have been part of many harmonization meetings (lasting 3 months) at Toro Resort Hotel which ended in utter failure. It’s also true the supporters of Rwabuhinga and Alex Ruhunda are at loggerheads with each group claiming credit for Fort City which Ruhunda first promised 7 years ago. Rightly showing Fort Tourism City was contained in NPA-authored Vision 2040 which President Museveni unveiled at Kololo in 2012, Rwabuhinga told KDLG Council meeting on 5th March 2019 that it would be a prudent decision to annex the whole of Burahya County onto Fort City because it comprises of many rapidly-urbanizing Town Councils and Town Boards.
BACK TO THE PETITION
In the Karambi petition, lawyer James Byamukama informs Speaker Kadaga how Butiime is a very unworthy minister for causing Cabinet to approve Ford City well knowing its being shrouded in “fatally very flawed & legally very challengeable” processes. Because of this characterization, Butiime took the petition to be personal attack on him and has never smiled at the lawyer since. The petition highlights for the Speaker Butiime’s procedural improprieties and failure to comply with statutory requirements both in the Constitution and Local Government Act. Kadaga is told why Butiime’s reliance on Toro Elders Forum boss Kiraso’s report is bad and unsustainable both in law and practice. That the views therein can only be persuasive and never conclusive. That the same report should have been presented before KDLG council for ratification and validation. That without proof of resolutions by lower councils like Karambi, Butiime’s presentation to cabinet becomes a nullity invalidating Fort City approval. Even Fort Portal Municipal Council resolution (permitting alteration of boundaries and) approving the new City wasn’t attached because of suspicion that District officials were omitting the name Fort in favor of calling it Kabarole Tourism City. Butiime didn’t present any argument on the socio-economic indicators justifying the City. Noting the Minister didn’t even disclose the population requirement (any City must, under Rule 32 of LG Councils Regulations, have not less than 0.5m residents), Karambi petitioners demand the entire process be redone. City boundaries aren’t disclosed in Butiime’s proposal which also doesn’t state wards cascading down to villages, petitioners argue. They dismiss the entire process as dubious for retaining Karambi on the list well known the Sub County resolution allowing to be annexed was rescinded by the same council whose members are permitted to change their mind. The petitioners argue all these procedural breaches make the entire process a nullity under Articles 179 & 8A of the Constitution and Section 7 of the Local Government Act, leaving Minister Butiime not looking very good. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).