Saturday, March 19, 2011


What was important as far as Erias Lukwago is concerned was to get a substantial number of votes from Kampala electorate. This was achieved. Step number two is to get his programme to better Kampala moving. Lukwago needs only the support of those who elected him to office to get moving no body else. What Lukwago ought to do as of now is simple. Come up with work plans for various parts of the people. This should be evolved in a participatory approach. His parent party is the Democratic Party and this is what he needs to reach the grassroots. He should use these people to help identify what needs to be fixed in various areas of the city.
When the mayor gets to know the basic problems for the various parts of the city, what remains is the programme of action. What is critical to do is that when he comes to fix these problems, he has to bear in mind that many of the city counselors are not members of the opposition. This may be by accident given the huge sums of money which we now clearly see were promised to the poverty stricken electorate courtesy of NRM! Lukwago needs to know that his term in office is the challenge to see that this time round the opposition can deliver to better the welfare of the people of Kampala without having to kneel down to President Museveni as provider.
The people want better services and knowing the problem that the central Government together with the NRM counselors may wish to fail Lukwago, the way to go is to get the cooperation of the people’s hand in fixing some of these problems. We are aware of the culture of ‘Bulungi bwansi’, when the people need you, they will definitely cooperate and find time to help fix a few things that can be fixed with their labour.
Lukwago needs to put up a fund which he may baptize “Lord Mayor Fund”. With such a fund in place, the Lord Mayor only needs to publicize his work plans and money will get to the fund. He may make appeals to the cooperate world in Kampala many of whom are inconvenienced by the bad management of the city, and surely, these should be ready to help him as long as he lives to what he does preach, and ensure that he does not fall victim of the corruption which is eating away nearly all the elected representatives of the people in Uganda.
As Lord Mayor, Lukwago should be able to preach his mission to other Mayors and seek assistance to get the things streamlined. He should be able to use his Religion as a Moslem to get funding from the Moslem community which should be a big boost to the realization of his dream.
He can also endeavour to see that accountability for funds earlier given to Kampala City Council is made and where services have not been delivered as would be expected, he can use his profession to see that the work is done according to standards and where possible refund is realized from who ever benefited.
Whatever the Chief Executive Officer does wrong, he will have to face Lukwago because Lukwago has the mandate of the people and the major objective among others is to see that each shilling put in Kampala is in line with the priorities as set by the people who live in Kampala and that it is put to good use. Lukwago for example could cause the sacking of the CEO if such a one is doing centrally to what the people of Kampala desire to be in place and how they like their city to be.
To sum up, Lukwago given what he is cannot be failed by the NRM Government if he seriously goes on the ticket of the people and he is dedicated to serve and he is ready to see corruption fought within Kampala City.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka

By Gerald Bareebe
Posted Saturday, March 19 2011 at 00:00

In Summary

Mr Erias Lukwago on Monday became Kampala’s first Lord Mayor after trouncing NRM’s Peter Sematimba in the hotly contested city mayoral election. He spoke to Saturday Monitor’s Gerald Bareebe about what inspired him to contest for the seat, the challenges ahead of him and his icy relationship with President Museveni;
After five years as Member of Parliament, why did you choose to seek election to the mayoral seat?
As a representative for Kampala Central, I realised that people were getting disgusted both with the NRM and the City Council. They were also disappointed with the leadership of Hajj Nasser Ssebagala (outgoing mayor) who, until recently, was undoubtedly opposition. He mismanaged the city and I had to rise up to restore hope in the opposition leadership and offer a new dimension. I made a statement and I have no regret about it that ‘KCC had been turned into a den of thieves’ just as you see this government. It was just money and cutting deals between some of the councillors from the opposition and the ruling party. Actually, you would hardly draw a line between the opposition and NRM councillors.
They all talked the same language when it came to “eating”. They had even ganged up against me because they looked at me as a threat. So, as far as activism and advocacy is concerned, I think I did enough as MP to address the challenges we are facing but I thought my impact was not getting felt.
What is your strategy to resolve the challenges facing KCC?
I have been addressing some of the challenges of KCC in terms of influencing decision making in this country. We (Parliament) appropriate funds to KCC. The funds are misappropriated and there is no service delivery.
Then the auditors come, raise audit queries and the audit queries come to us in Parliament. The parliamentary Committee on Local Government - where I sit - makes recommendations that action should be taken against the culprits who are responsible for the mess in the city. No action is taken and the report is shelved. Another financial year comes and we appropriate funds again. This is the vicious cycle of theft. I want to break that vicious cycle so that we can enforce these reports. When we manage to curb corruption we shall save enough funds to solve Kampala’s problems.
Kampala has diverse social groups each with different interests. How are you going to address their demands which are sometimes conflicting?
I believe in the doctrine of equitable development. Equity is a virtue. Equity presupposes treating everybody justly and fairly. But you find that the current government has institutionalised a system which is oppressive to a particular class of people in the name of championing development in the city. The leadership of KCC in collusion with the central government had started a system where land would be allocated to a handful of individuals, including markets. Uganda is not a welfare state. It’s purely capitalistic where everybody survives for himself. There are no social security measures.
If you go with that, what happens is that you condemn a particular class of people to death. You chase them away from streets because you want to clean up the city. For example, street vendors, they all go to the market.
Therefore, if you visit all markets in the city, they are extremely congested because these traders cannot manage to rent shopping arcades.
What you can do to these people is that you preserve these facilities for them but construct them to acceptable standards. You can get a social intervention from the government to address the imbalances as you let the middle class do their business in the most affluent positions.
I also take reservation of the current tax system which is very unfair to lower income earners. You give tax holidays to the so called investors and impose a heavy tax on those in the informal sector. This is very unfortunate. That’s why I put a suggestion in Parliament in 2009 to put a halt on the enforcement of Trade Licensing Act pending resolution of a number of issues surrounding its applicability and its fairness, Parliament luckily enough agreed with me. I am told a new instrument has been developed by the Trade Minister which imposes a heavy tax regime. When I am sworn in, I will address it again.

What do you see as your biggest hurdle now?
Fighting corruption is not an easy task. I will find resistance and threats from the perpetuators. These are mafias. I am fighting a mafia group and you know what it means. They will impose threats to me, including death threats, they will put up resistance but we must tackle it if we are to change the status quo in the city. We must take the bull by its horns and I am ready for that.
You have an icy relationship with the President; won’t this undermine your performance?
If the president respects the Constitution, then it will be treason on his part if he attempts to frustrate my efforts. I have not gone to the bush to fight him much as I doubt his victory. Most Ugandans know that his win is not legitimate. I know he worked around the clock to frustrate all my efforts but finally I won. I would expect him to respect the will of people. One thing I am not going to do is to beg him for funding.
If he expects me to go and kneel before him in State House, I will not. There are mechanisms enshrined in the Constitution and other relevant laws on how we should work towards a common cause as far as the de
velopment of Kampala is concerned. I will demand for appropriation of a special vote to fund activities in Kampala.
From you own scale of preference, what are the three things that you will tackle first in your first three months in office?
I will start by carrying out baseline survey standards in all the contracts we have in KCC like garbage collections, fixing potholes and street lights. I want to carry out a survey to establish the service delivery standards and the viability of the existing contract we have between KCC and the private service providers. I want to see the viability of those transactions because funds are appropriated, disbursed and contracts are executed but the status quo remains the same.
I want to freeze all the transactions related to allocation of public facilities to private individuals as we carry out the review of these proprieties. You can’t imagine that playgrounds, greenbelts and walkways are up for grabs.
Finally, if you are not leading demonstrations in Kampala, or in parliament making laws, what do you do?
I have very little time to go out socialising but I get some time to interact with my family largely at home, especially during weekends. As you can see I have a very young family. My first born is just eight years and my twins are making four years this month. Occasionally, I attend social events where I am invited. I don’t go clubbing, I don’t go to the beach but I watch soccer quite a lot.

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