The drama around Elias Lukwago and Givernment just never seems to end. There have been repeated non stop efforts, members of parliament from Kampala have so far failed to convince lord mayor Erias Lukwago and Beti Kamya, the minister for Kampala, to work harmoniously.
Under the auspices of the Kampala parliamentary caucus, the MPs have met the two leaders at least twice this month, to try to nudge them to work together. According to sources, signs are that the MPs will not succeed.
“They cannot work together,” said one MP who has been part of the meetings and is close to Lukwago.
“It is just the politics of NRM versus the opposition,” the MP added.
The meetings, which were also attended by division mayors, have been taking place at parliament on Wednesdays under the chairmanship of Latif Sebaggala, the Kawempe North MP and chairperson of the Kampala caucus.
While the purpose of the meetings is for stakeholders to try and find solutions to problems that dog the city, disagreements between Lukwago and Kamya have always come to the fore. Declining to go into details, Sebaggala told DailyNewsUg this week that so far some “progress” had been made and sounded confident that the two leaders would work harmoniously.
“I think the two do not have any personal differences like some people are saying. What they are saying is that the law needs to be amended such that each one’s work is clearly defined,” Sebaggala said.
Indeed, in the the last meeting, MPs pointed out that the two should have no problem working together because they are both “Baganda” and have worked together before, in the opposition.
The MPs have emphasized to the two leaders that Kampala residents are tired of conflicts at City Hall, which tend to derail delivery of services. Our sources told us that Sebaggala has also come under harsh criticism from some people close to Lukwago, who accuse him of hobnobbing with Kamya for personal favours.
These politicians have taken issue with the fact that he invited Kamya as chief guest during the music, dance and drama competition at his school, Kisaasi College, on July 24.
Sebaggala laughed off the innuendos, insisting that leaders in Kampala have a duty to work together. Interestingly, Sebaggala, an independent MP, was once part of a pressure group, Truth and Justice, which was led by Lukwago.
Inside the meetings, sources describe a situation of uneasy calm between the two leaders. Our sources said the occasional handshakes and exchange of smiles has not masked the sharp differences between the two leaders who in the 8th parliament sat on the front row as shadow ministers.
Their main contention, according to the sources, has been the blurred demarcation of roles of the lord mayor and the minister for Kampala. Lukwago has accused Kamya of trying to usurp his powers and of being eager to perform roles that fall under the purview of the office of the lord mayor.
In one meeting, Lukwago reportedly wondered why Kamya would go ahead and commission the up- grading of 10 roads in Lubaga and Nakawa divisions on August 11 when the lord mayor was available.
Lukwago has also expressed concern that the executive director, Jennifer Musisi, now reports directly to Kamya, yet she is supposed to account to the authority. As for Kamya, sources said, she has always maintained that as minister, she administers the authority on behalf of the central government.
Lukwago, however, disagrees with this interpretation and cites section 5 (3) of the KCCA Act, which states: “The authority is the governing body of the capital city and shall administer the capital city on behalf of the central government subject to this act.”
Lukwago insists that he wants things to be done according to the law. In the meetings, Kamya has often made it clear that she has no intention of fighting Lukwago politically as some people have been saying.
Sources told us that she says she only wants to work with him to make the city better. We have been told that Lukwago has also made it clear that any meeting between him and Kamya must be formal and structured.
Kamya, he said, should write to him through the executive director of KCCA and be specific about what she wants to meet about. In one of the meetings, Lukwago said he was not in the habit of holding casual meetings in hotels about official work.
Our sources said Lukwago also wondered why Kamya does not shift her office from the office of the president building since her ministry is now independent. He said he was uncomfortable stepping in the building where the president maintains an office.
In an interview with DailyNewsUg, Lukwago confirmed the meetings, pointing out, however that their intention is not to mediate be- tween him and Kamya but to discuss the wider problems facing the city with other leaders.
Lukwago said the disagreements between him and Kamya do not need any mediation, insisting that order shall only return to City Hall if the KCCA Act is interpreted as it is.
“In my view, we do not need even need to amend the KCCA Act like some people have been saying. The leaders just have to follow what it says,” Lukwago said.
He confirmed that he had been angered by Kamya’s decision to preside over the recent commissioning of the road projects.
“Read the law [section 11 (c) of the KCCA Act]. It says the lord mayor shall preside over ceremonial functions in the city, not the minister,” he said.
By presiding over city functions, Lukwago said, Kamya had put herself in a tight spot because under the law, the reason why a lord mayor presides over such functions is to be able to make a report to the minister. Now, he said, Kamya will have to make the report.
Asked whether he cared about people’s concerns that he is the one trying to bog down KCCA work, Lukwago said he was not bothered.
“For me as long as I follow what the law says, I know that I will be vindicated,” he said.
An MP close to Lukwago told us that privately, the lord mayor believes Kamya was appointed largely to fight him.
The MP said: “The president has made it clear that he will fight Lukwago. What makes you think that his appointee [Kamya] is there to work with him (Lukwago)?”
Efforts to talk to Kamya were futile.
John Ssebaana Kizito, a former mayor of Kampala, told us on Wednesday that Lukwago and Kamya have to find ways of working together.
“I worked with government but I was not com- promised. It is not easy but you have to do it [work with government],” Ssebaana said