KAMPALA – Legislators on July 30, rejected a proposal to change the modus operandi for election of Lord Mayor from universal adult suffrage to an electoral college of Councillors, warning the move would create anarchy in an already politically-porous Kampala.
The lawmakers’ warning was in support of recommendation by the Presidential Affairs Committee on a report of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Amendment Bill 2015 whose objective was to provide for election of the Lord Mayor among the councilors other than have the political head directly elected by voters in Kampala.
The Chairperson of Presidential Affairs Committee Jesca Ababiku, while tabling the report informed Parliament that the committee had rejected the said proposal as well as a suggestion to elevate the Minister of Kampala to a political head of the capital city instead of the Lord Mayor, arguing that the position of political head is useless because it doesn’t come with any functions.
During a plenary sitting held on Tuesday, July 30, a number of MPs questioned the motive behind denying voters in Kampala their legal right to vote for their preferred mayor yet it is a global practice world over, that all cities vote their own mayors.
Aruu County MP Odong Otto also accused the framers of the proposal of being agents of anarchy.
“This is the person who doesn’t want us to have peace in the country. Why would a town like Pader elect a Mayor and a city like Kampala not have a mayor elected by adult suffrage. Kampala should be no exception. We have to take the position of the committee let the people of Kampala elect the person whom they want. There is no short cut.” He said.
The Budadiri East MP Nandala Mafabi wondered why Government was making legislations in piecemeal instead of making an omnibus Act for all cities and questioned if all the newly created cities will have their own Acts.
“I don’t know what the motive of the bill was? If you look at the bill, it is just ill motive. If a town council can have its Mayor elected, what about Kampala? Do these people who make these laws sit in heaven? Maybe some people want to become Councillors that is why they want this bill. I am yet to understand the motive of the bill,” said Mafabi.
He cautioned his fellow MPs to desist from making oppressive laws that seek to please a single individual arguing that they too may get caught up in the same web and are prone to fall victim to these laws that they enabled to create.
“I would have been happy to say the City Authority Act and what should be done is to make law for the City Authority and whatever comes a city falls into and if this is for Kampala, you will need to make for other cities. If we want to develop Kampala since it is our first capital city, it would be illogical to come make a law to destroy it.”
Moses Kasibante also weighed in submitting that if a small village in Rubaga has a political head, how about a capital city? He also questioned what is special for KCCA to have a Minister yet Uganda has over 100 Authorities but none has a Minister with calls to have KCCA revert back to Local Government saying the creation of a Minister has created confusion at City Hall.
The Oyam Woman MP Santa Alum argued that if Beti Kamya wants to become the political head, she should go back to voters, converse for votes as outlined in the constitution on who a political head is.
“If the Minister wanted to be a political head, let her move around to get votes of the people.” said Hon Santa.
Wamai Wamanga (Mbale Municipality) questioned the Executive’s priorities in framing the legislation saying the Lord Mayor must be elected by the people and the Executive shouldn’t count on to manipulating the councilors to elect a Lord Mayor they want.
He also said the Executive should be thinking of how to put up a modern city instead of thinking about creation of a minister for Kampala, “We should think of how we improve instead of amending bills to create positions for people. This is wasteful expenditure.”
The bill had proposed the transfer of the Title political head from the Lord Mayor to the minister of Kampala but the committee said that the title is useless as a political head is not a function and the implication of the clause would give the Minister more powers than lord mayor, a proposal Odonga Otto described as a time bomb.
“Before there was an executive director the budget was little the moment we put position of ED the budget support increased by 700%. The central govt put more money which politically means they pump more money where they feel comfortable. Let us not disfranchise Kampala, you can see pressure People Power is putting on you, all these are salient issue that lie with baganda,” said Otto.
Minister Of State for KCCA Bena Namugwanya informed Parliament that although the Bill had proposed setting up a Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority, the idea was dropped and instead set up a department in the Ministry of Kampala to deal with physical planning to encompass all the districts in the metropolitan area.