By James Katongana
The Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, and the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Nandala Mafabi, have been in dialogue over the impeachment of the former Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.
Whereas dialogue is the most civil way of resolving conflicts, it can never be used in settling a political question when legal means have been used.
First and foremost, the district council petitioned the minister for Kampala on the grounds of misconduct, abuse of office and incompetence of their Mayor. This is where dialogue would have worked between the Minister, councilors and the Lord Mayor. He deliberately chose to go to court and resolve political issues legally. He was paid in the same currency. So, when dialogue collapses, it is no wonder.
As a result of the petition, the Minister instituted a tribunal as provided for in the law to ascertain the allegations raised in the petition. The tribunal affirmed that indeed there was a prima facie case to answer by the Lord Mayor. Subsequently, the Minister as required by the law acted on the report of the tribunal and as a result the Lord Mayor was impeached.
How then was the dialogue initiated by the Leader of Opposition going to reverse those legal processes? Even amending the Act would not have saved the situation either because a precedent had been set. What was required then, was for Lukwago to challenge the decision in courts of law within 21 days and not in political dialogue.
It must be remembered that the tribunal found the mayor guilty and gave recommendations for his removal. A majority of 29 councilors supported the motion and three against. Now, what was the dialogue going to do with the findings of the tribunal and the decision of the majority of the council? Lukwago woke up too early for the next day.
Abdi Chamaswet’s motion for the censure of Minister Frank Tumwebaze was a usual comedy by opposition MPS to waste tax-payers money and time. They knew that it would collapse like a pack of cards because it lacked merit. No wonder, it attracted only 20 signatures out of 125 required by law. They knew that the minister was implementing the law. In fact, had he not done so, he would have invited for his censure from Parliament because the councilors would have petitioned Parliament.
For Chamaswet, Gerald Karuhanga and Ssewungu to say that they gave the minister Christmas gift by not censuring him because government had started negotiations with opposition is just sour- grapping. The fact is that the motion could not stand. Once beaten twice shy.
However, the minister should think of the possibility of amending the KCCA Act because the framers of it did not anticipate a situation where there would a time when the council would not have a mayor and a deputy mayor. In a situation where the Speaker is the mayor, who calls and chairs the meetings of the council and in a situation where there is no mayor and deputy mayor, then the council cannot transact business. Councilors should be allowed to elect amongst themselves the mayor or the minister appoints one until such a time when the mayor is elected.
The writer is a Pan-Africanist.