By Cyprian Musoke
and Moses Mulondo
THE Governmentâ€™s plan to redevelop Kampala City has prompted mixed reactions. Kampala Mayor Nasser Sebaggala said the Government had resorted to legal means to take over Kampala having failed to do so politically.
â€œIt is a shame for them to say they lead this country but are not in control of the city,â€ he said.
According to the proposals, Kampala will have a metropolitan planning authority and an executive director appointed by the President. The mayor will be chosen from elected councillors and remain the political head of the district, preside over council meetings and perform ceremonial functions.
Sebaggala said the spirit of decentralisation, under which he said people were free to elect their leaders, was being â€œkilledâ€. He said Mengo was right to reject decentralisation, â€œsince it can be taken away whenever the Government feels like.â€
He warned the take-over would not stop in Kampala. â€œWherever they feel resistance, they will take over.â€ He said the Governmentâ€™s motive was to control the city finances.
But local government minister Hope Mwesige said Sebaggala and the city council had themselves to blame. â€œHad they managed Kampala well, there would be no reason for government to take over. Look at the developments we put in place for CHOGM, they are failing to maintain them.â€
Despite this, Mengo spokesman Medard Lubega insisted that the way the Mengo municipality was being created was unconstitutional and unacceptable. â€œIt is an attempt to implement the regional tier which the people of Buganda rejected,â€ he said.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) said the plan was unjustified and illegal since it â€œcontravenes the Local Government Act that decentralised powers to districts.â€
Addressing their weekly press briefing, deputy secretary Augustine Ruzindana also said: â€œAll power belongs to the peopleâ€ and that poor funding was the cause of poor service delivery in Kampala.
The Government, said Ruzindana, a former IGG, had no moral authority to claim it could offer better services to the city.
FDC vice-president Salaamu Musumba added that it was a government ploy to â€œsell public property and land in KCC jurisdiction.â€
She added: â€œNo government has sold off Ugandaâ€™s public goods like the NRM government. This is for the furtherance of their land grabbing. What happened to the Shimoni land, the Nakasero land and the Radio Uganda land?â€
However, Kampala RDC Alice Muwanguzi said the takeover was meant to improve Kampala management. She said it was not prompted by the Movementâ€™s failure to win the cityâ€™s leadership. â€œItâ€™s a constitutional matter for the central government to run the city of Kampala. It was just a matter of time. Kampala is different from other districts as it doubles as the capital city.â€
She said it had been â€œdifficult for KCC to administer Kampala to the level of cities in developed countriesâ€ since its budget has been low. â€œUnless the Government takes over, Kampala will continue to leave a lot to be desired.â€
Uganda Peopleâ€™s Congress deputy secretary general Chris Opoka said the Constitution requires all political offices to be elective. He said the executive director to manage Kampala would be appointed, powerful and funded by the tax-payer. â€œThis is just not right,â€ he said.
However, lands minister Omara Atubo maintained that the Government was merely implementing the law.
â€œArticle 5 of the Constitution says Kampala shall be the capital city of Uganda, administered by the Central government. Interpret that for the people.â€
Kampala Central MP, also shadow justice minister, Erias Lukwago blamed the takeover on â€œindividuals within KCC working in cahoots with government.â€ He added: â€œThese should answer for their actions instead of disenfranchising the voters.â€
He said he was â€œhighly suspicious of a plot by Sebaggala to mess up the city to give justification for President Yoweri Museveni to take it over.â€
Makindye West MP Hussein Kyanjo said appointing an executive director would not automatically solve Kampalaâ€™s problems since corporations run by such directors had collapsed.
New Kampala plan: First stop graft - experts
By Henry Mukasa
Unless corruption and political interference are stamped out, the plan for a new Kampala will not work, experts said yesterday.
Assumpta Nagenda-Musana, a human settlements researcher and a lecturer in architecture at Makerere University, however, added that the changes were good if they did not â€œremain on paperâ€.
Musana said political interference, ignorance, greed and corruption in the Kampala city administration were to blame for poor management of the capital.
Her research, she said, found that the people in charge of Kampala City Council are not informed, the main cause of the problems in the council.
Supporting Musana, Daniel Bwanika, a physical planner, said the proposed changes would not work because of political
interference in urban planning.
Bwanika cited the degazetting of green areas in Kampala, poor drainage and political patronage as bottlenecks. â€œThe new changes bring in the executive director. Ask yourself, â€˜Will he be above ministers who direct Kampala urban planning?â€™ If he cannot refuse the directives, then you have not changed anything.â€
Bwanika suggested that Mengo and the Central government create an urban planning council to oversee the remodelling of the city. He warned that rampant release of raw sewer into rivers and the uncontrolled construction on hills would lead to epidemics and landslides.
Musana said the problem was getting worse given that road reserves and building regulations are not respected, while residents do not have security of tenure.
She urged the Government to provide affordable housing as a means to stop slums from erupting in the city. However, she doubted that the problem of housing would be solved since, according to her, the National Housing and Construction Corporation builds expensive houses beyond the reach of the poor.