Daniel Kalinaki's weblog

A commentary on news and events in Uganda and elsewhere


Just an ordinary bloke.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Let residents run Kampala; they already do!

SECOND FLOOR - I really must find time to blog a bit more frequently. Anyway, here is a piece of my Thursday column in the Daily Monitor. The more I wrote the angrier I got but anyway, here goes:


The government, the opposition and Buganda Kingdom are all up in arms over the Kampala Capital City Bill 2009 tabled before Parliament last week.

The central government claims that it wants to appoint a team of professionals to run the city better and plan for its future expansion. Buganda Kingdom officials say proposals to take over two town councils currently in Wakiso District are a ruse to grab the kingdom’s land. The opposition, on the other hand, says that, having failed to win control over the city for many years, the central government is finally winning the game in a draconian fashion – by uprooting the goalposts and taking them away.

So, who’s right and who’s wrong? Buganda’s claim has historical and emotional appeal but it seems a tad unreasonable. If Mengo Municipality, the heartbeat of the kingdom, is being cut out of the city boundaries, is it not fair that compensation must be found in the form of surrounding areas? We can debate which areas to include in the new city – for instance, why take Kira Town Council which is already developed, and not, say, parts of Mpigi which are not? We can also look at the maps and see who wins and who loses but the idea sounds logical – and could raise land values in those areas even higher.

While it’s true that the new Bill, if passed into law, will end opposition control over the city with the stroke of a pen, it will only accelerate a process that is well and truly underway. The opposition might control all but one of the city’s seats in Parliament but the NRM has been making inroads as more and more people became disgruntled with Ssebaana Kizito and then Nasser Sebaggala’s kleptocratic regimes at City Hall.

Instead of using their control over the city to demonstrate their managerial abilities, the opposition ransacked and plundered Kampala, stealing whatever they could carry and selling off whatever they couldn’t. Land, markets, houses, schools, cemeteries, etc were all stolen or sold.

This was not just an opposition racket; officials from the very same central government that is allegedly riding to our rescue were involved in the relocation of schools to pave way for investors, the boarding off of public parks to set up malls and pubs, and the dubious allocation of markets to hawk-eyed, claw-fingered Merchants of Vice.

The central government had a chance to show its abilities in the run-up to CHOGM when it sank billions of our money in fixing the city’s roads, street lights and ‘beautifying’ it. Within weeks the potholes were back; traffic and street lights had ‘died’; the grass had grown back; the rubbish skips had been turned to scrap; and the potted plants down the road from State House – part of Shs4.5 billion spent by highly-placed politico-entrepreneurs on beautification – had been returned to the palaces from which they were, ostensibly, hired.

How can the same central government then claim that it will run the city better? It might be a good idea to appoint lawyers, engineers, environmentalists etc to the new Authority to run the city but do we not already have those specialists at City Hall?

Kampala does not need anyone to manage it. The city manages itself by the grace of God and the fortitude of its residents. We pay private companies to collect our garbage; build walls, hire guards for our security; replace the shock absorbers in our cars when the potholes wear them out; tarmac the roads to our residences; pay to use what’s left of the city’s only public park; produce our own electricity half of the time off generators and ‘inverters’; pay street kids not to break into our cars and generally get by despite, and not because of, the city administrators.
So you can fight all you want for what’s left of Kampala, all you bloody politicians. Just don’t claim to be doing it in the name of its residents.


Blogger Omar Basawad said...

In the 60s and early 70s, Kampala was one of the most beautiful of cities. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, were nonentities; Kuala Lumpur was still considered backwards. And now: Kampala is just like a sick old man who has lost his senses.

Can it regain its beauty? With a vision, proper planning and the will, it can.

4:52 pm  
Blogger wesonga said...

Yes, Kampala residents are running the city.

So President Museveni should accept this. If he wants to demonstrate his is big, let him wait for the petitions asking for a referendum on Kampala City Bill 2009. Why deny residents the only means through which they interact with the fellows deceiving that the care for the common man.

The only way President Museveni will circumvent that force – 1 million signatures for the petition - will be by unleashing hoodlums with sticks on a cluster of electoral commission PhDs.

They will be sorted, immediately like a certain cluster of judges.

Optimistically, many residents doubt President Museveni will again allow General Tinyefunza to send the Fascist-like black shirts to ask the likes of the James Ogoola to ask Dr. Kiiza Besigye to take a plea bargain so that he is subjected to house arrest unstead of at stint by Murchison Bay.

As this goes on; City mayor, Nasser Sebaggala, will pretend that he is concerned that a constitutionally guaranteed right of the people to vote for their representatives is threatened.

He is an entrepreneur first and foremost. Whatever earns him an extra shilling counts a lot more than titles.

Others can argue that Sebaggala will be ceremonial mayor if President Museveni succeeds in this scheme.

Pro-Sebaggala folk may add that Sebaggala will not stand being a lame duck mayor. But they forget that even the bribe he dished out in Apac at Dr. Milton Obote’s burial cannot win Sebaggala substantial votes in the Lango sub-region should he toy with the idea of standing as President of Uganda.

Deep down, Sebaggala is happy about the Kampala City Bill 2009. He should be because, given his dalliance with these hotel barons, he mortgaged his credibility among the seyas – ordinary blokes. He promised buses on all city routes.

He even launched a double-deck one. Where is it? Residents now have to board buses to Robert Kayanja’s Lubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral just to get a feel or satisfaction of sitting in a ‘buses with a flight of stairs’. He also promised the seyas ‘to carry home polythene bags’ after honest day’s work.

The opposition chaps must be afraid that President Museveni will not appoint any of them, unless they do an Aggrey Awori – cross to the Movement and hold their breath. But they mustn’t be scared on residents’ behalves.

Residents can take care of themselves. How else do they think each resident survives on Sh1, 000 for five years until the next general election? After all, even with the bods that residents elected are unapproachable once they sit on those cushioned seats at City Hall.

When residents go to visit, they are told by the representatives’ secretaries, “He/She is out of office.” And to add insult to injury, residents are asked, “Did you have an appointment?”

So residents resigned to waiting for them at political rallies where they come to gauge whether they can still excite residents.

They should realise that only John Ken ‘the man’ Lukyamuzi can excite the residents whenever he meets them.

On a parting note, do not blame the opposition and officials from the central government for ransacking and plundering Kampala. It was sabotage.

Just the same way President Museveni accuses the remnants of previous governments for sabotaging his designs for the civil service; he has done the same – through proxy or advisers – to the opposition.

It is like a woman who complains to her husband about a naughty child of theirs. She demands that he stamps his authority since he is the man. And as the husband spanks the child, the woman ‘intervenes’ the same way then Col. Kahinda Otafiire said they would do after a ‘Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA’) raid on some villages in Luweero.

So the child may blame the dad and yet actually, daddy had no problem with the child only that his tough partner nudged him into dirtying his hands as Raila Amolo Odinga is doing for Mwai Kibaki’s of some Grand Coalition.

12:18 pm  

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