By John Semakula
ERIAS Lukwago yesterday began a four-year tenure as the Lord Mayor of Kampala. Lukwago, 41, was elected into the office following a hotly contested race that pitted him against five other candidates, including NRMâ€™s Peter Sematimba.
Lukwago, who contested as an independent candidate after disagreeing with the leadership of DP to which he subscribes, garnered 229,325 votes, 64% of the votes cast.
The first-runner-up was Sematimba, a pastor turned-politician, who got 115,015 votes or 33% of the total number of votes.
Sematimba conceded defeat and urged his supporters to work with Lukwago. Lukwago commended Sematimba for the gesture.
By press time, the swearing in ceremony was going on at the City Hall in Kampala. Prior to the ceremony, Lukwago attended Juma prayers at Kibuli Mosque at 1:00pm.
Lukwago and city councillors were sworn in at City Hall.
The divisional mayors, formerly LC3 chairpersons, were also sworn in, in their respective areas.
Other candidates in the mayoral race were Michael Mabikke of the Social Democratic Party, Emmanuel Tumusiime of the Forum for Integrity in Leadership and independents Francis Babu and Sandra Ngabo Katebalirwe.
Before running for the office of the Lord Mayor, Lukwago was the Kampala Central Division MP. Lukwago stood out, especially among the opposition legislators in Parliament, because he dominated debates on many issues.
He positioned himself as a crusader for several interest groups in the city, to the extent of leading demonstrations. For instance, he defended market vendors when city authorities were planning to tender the markets to private developers.
He also fronted himself as a Mengo loyalist who was willing to confront the government whenever it disagreed with Buganda Kingdom leaders on different issues. He did not mind skipping a parliamentary session to attend the Buganda Lukiiko.
Before joining the Parliament in 2001, he had made a name as one of the hottest lawyers in town after winning a number of big cases against the Government.
His political career dates back to the days when he was a student at Makerere University. He is said to have been active in Nkobazambogo, a voluntary association of Baganda students.
Lukwago took over the office of the Lord Mayor with a wide political experience.
However, the Kampala City Bill 2009 makes him more of a ceremonial head. The Bill gives administrative powers to the newly-created office of the executive director.
The rest of the mayors will be sworn in beginning Monday.
What are the roles of Executive Director, Lord Mayor?
By John Semakula
Whereas many people think the Lord Mayor is only a ceremonial position, he will actually have some powers. The Kampala Capital City Act 2010, which created the positions of Executive Director and Lord Mayor, specifies their different roles to avoid a clash.
Long before Lukwago was sworn in, the President appointed no-nonsense lawyer Jenifer Musisi Ssemakula as Executive Director and she assumed office.
Semakula served as a commissioner in charge of legal affairs in Uganda Revenue Authority before her contract expired last year.
Semakulaâ€™s roles, according to the Act, will be to coordinate and implement the national and council policies, laws and regulations.
She will also serve as the accounting officer and will advise the authority on technical, administrative and legal matters, in regard to the management of the authority.
The powers to sack the Executive Director in case of incompetence, corruption, or breach of the leadership code of conduct lies in the hands of the President, who must be advised by the Public Service Commission before he makes any decision.
Most of the implementation is left in the hands of the executive Director who is mainly accountable to the central government.
While the Bill gives the Government more control over Kampala city affairs, the Lord Mayor still has a big voice. He will spearhead the formulation of laws, policies, and programmes and makes sure that the technical team implements them. He also oversees their implementation.
The mayor also a few other functions, which include presiding over the authorityâ€™s meetings, hosting foreign and local dignitaries and ceremonial functions.