I am writing to clarify certain distortions I have been reading since the KCCA amendment bill was tabled on the floor of parliament.
First; is the issue of the minister for Kampala not making regulations that will guide the conduct of mayoral elections and second; is the question of why table the amendment bill now?
Regulations for any law are always intended to operationalize its provisions that may not have been written in detail. The regulations come in to give clarity on procedure and practice of how the provisions of a certain law will be implemented.
In this case therefore, I could not make the said regulations when the law they were meant to operationalize had a lot of provisions that were lacking and needed review. Instead I had to undertake a process of amending the law which many other stakeholders including Parliament were rightly calling for. Regulations alone cannot cure the effects of bad law. The solution is to amend the law and cure the lacunas and ambiguities sustainably.
Section 82(1) of the KCCA Act which provides for those regulations states;
“The Minister may, by statutory instrument, make regulations for the better carrying into effect of the provisions of this Act.
Notwithstanding the generality of subsection (1), the Minister may make regulations for— -Prescribing an area within the Capital City to be the central business district;
-Prescribing particulars to be contained in the quarterly summary reports of procurements and disposals made by the Capital City Contracts Committee;
-The election of representative of professional bodies;
-In consultation with the Electoral Commission, regulating the election of Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor;
-The election of representatives of professional bodies;
-On recommendation of the Police Authority, regulating the Metropolitan Police Force;
-The reporting procedure of Contracts Committee;
-The delegation of powers of Contracts Committee;
The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after the publication of a statutory instrument made under this section, cause the instrument to be laid before Parliament.”
Looking at the phrasing of section 82(1) above, one can clearly see that even the requirement of making regulations by the minister is not a mandatory one which clearly tells it all, that the law indeed requires review. The amendments I am proposing therefore, and which have been approved by cabinet, are meant to cure such lacunas like on procedure for elections and in many other provisions of the same law. Can the electoral commission therefore, in the circumstances conduct the mayoral elections without the said regulations? That is a Matter for the Attorney general to advice.
Broadly why are we amending the KCCA Act law?
In 2005, Article 5 of the Constitution was amended to reflect the special status of Kampala as the Capital City of Uganda, which means that Kampala ceased to be a district under the Local Government system, and that the Capital City was therefore to be administered by the Central Government. That provision is in the constitution and it’s supreme. Any other law made under the same constitutional provision must not contradict it or attempt to undermine the spirit of the constitution framers in as far the administration of Kampala is concerned.
The objective of the aforesaid constitutional amendment was to introduce reforms to the governance of the Capital City in a bid to address the numerous issues that Kampala faced at that time, for example poor transport infrastructure, traffic congestion, uncontrolled developments, flooding, unregulated transport industry, illegal street trading, corruption, poor service delivery etc…
In order to give effect to the new status of Kampala under Article 5 of the Constitution, Parliament enacted the Kampala Capital City Act, 2010 which came into force on the 1st of March 2011. The provisions of the Kampala Capital City Act 2010 prescribe, among others, the administration of Kampala by the Central Government, the establishment of the Kampala Capital City Authority (hereinafter referred to as the KCCA) as the governing body of the city, the composition of the Authority, election, removal and powers of the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and members of the Authority.
In as much as the Capital City has experienced significant reforms under the administration of Kampala Capital City Authority, there is inadequacy in the aspect of governance, which has, to a great extent, impeded the smooth operation of KCCA.
Since 25th November 2013,
KCCA has run without a Lord Mayor following his removal by the Authority Councilors using the power given to them under section 12 of the KCCA Act. The removal has since been a subject of contestation in the courts of law and debate in Parliament, the media and other public fora. While the removal of The Lord Mayor is provided for in the same law, there was no provision for who and how the functions of the removed lord mayor will be performed in both his/her absence and that of the deputy Lord Mayor. The law should never be made to create an absurdity. This is what partly the amendment seeks to cure.
The KCCA (Amendment) Bill, 2015 which is a culmination of two years of preparation intends to strengthen and streamline the governance of the city, by drawing clear lines of distinction between roles of policy makers and administrators. The apparent fusion of roles has also contributed largely to the governance problem.
The amendments will also; enhance the current provisions in the law, providing for the Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority to engender better planning in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area; remove the borrowing limit of the KCCA as long as any such borrowing is compliant with the Public Finance Management Act; and to correct the latent errors and ambiguity in composition of the Authority/Council and nomenclature of institutions and offices.
I have been reading online with consternation the behavior of my colleagues in the Opposition and some sections of the media in the last three days following the tabling of the Bill for the First Reading. These colleagues of mine including the former Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago are now raving and ranting about the Bill as if it pertains to a person in the name of Erias Lukwago. This Bill like I have stated hereinabove deals with matters to do with general governance questions in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. Let us not misrepresent the bill before even telling the public about its contents as was the case with the land amendment bill some years back.
Assurance made to Parliament by leader of government business
The amendment bill is not just work of one night. It has been a process. In December 2014, the Right Honourable Prime Minister made an assurance to Parliament of Government’s intention to deal with the governance question in Kampala through amendment of the law. He was overwhelmingly supported not to mention the one month deadline the speaker gave him to have the amendment bill presented. This call by Parliament to have the law amendment had been re-echoed by many other legitimate stake holders of Kampala. It is therefore dishonest on the part of my colleagues in the Opposition to state that this was an after-thought following Erias Lukwago’s decision to stand for the Lord Mayor position in Kampala. That is false. Whether Lukwago stands or doesn’t, streamlining the governance framework of Kampala capital city remains our noble duty.
The other inaccurate claim, I have heard is that this Bill is about disenfranchisement of the people of Kampala. I would like to reassure the people of Kampala and Uganda at large, that this is not the case. To disabuse the notion being peddled, I would like to make a couple of comments.
The issue of disenfranchisement is overstretched by the naysayers. The Council presided over by the Lord Mayor or Division Mayor is no different from the Parliament of Uganda. Currently, the Lord Mayor and Division Mayors perform the role of a Speaker in the Council. They convene and chair council meetings as their main function. This is different from the set-up of the district council where a separate speaker is elected from the councilors to head council and not the LC5 chairperson. The LC5 chairperson heads the executive committee. In the case for Kampala, The Lord Mayor has no executive of a government to form and so is the chairperson and head of council. What then is wrong with having the lord mayor elected by the same legislative council he/she chairs just like it is for the national parliament? Can we say that the people of Uganda are disenfranchised because they don’t vote for the speaker of parliament through adult suffrage?
The rationale behind the proposal of changing the mode of election of the lord mayor and all other division mayors is for purposes of ensuring that the mayor and the deputy remain accountable to the Council that they chair, just like in the case of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament who are elected by Members of Parliament. Besides, the law already vests the same Councils with authority to remove a Lord Mayor or Division Mayor. These Councilors are products of an electoral process conducted from the grassroots. Ugandans do not convene at Parliament to elect a Speaker or Deputy Speaker. Their representatives in form of Members of Parliament elect the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Where then is the disfranchisement?
The other distortion to this debate is the claim that the Central Government is targeting Erias Lukwago and wants to strip him of his powers. The powers vested in a Lord Mayor are not personal and nothing is changing substantially with the proposed amendments. In fact, if the proposal of having the Lord Mayor elected by the councilors is rejected and instead a separate position of speaker for the council is created in the law as some stake holders I consulted had suggested, then the real powers of The Lord Mayor will indeed be stripped since he/she will no longer be the one to convene and chair council. He will only be an ex-official member of council. We are however not proposing this in the amendments but it’s another feasible option many other stake holders had mooted.
The amendments therefore, cannot be targeting a man called Erias Lukwago. The law was never made for Him. Erias Lukwago just like any other person is entitled to aspire to become a Lord Mayor. However, what any person aspiring to be lord mayor needs to be reminded about is that he/she is not the primary administrator of the Capital City. The Central Government does so as per the Constitution. The Lord Mayor and the council administer it on delegation by the central government. Central Government policy therefore takes precedence. That is why the minister responsible for the capital city is given veto powers under section 79. This is what Erias Lukwago has never appreciated, but it’s the bitter truth.
By and large, the amendment bill if passed into law is intended to improve the City and enhance the operations of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area from a physical planning perspective and generally bring about integrated planning in the face of rapid urbanization. It is generally for the common good of all Kampala people.
The amendments therefore should be looked at broadly. Focusing them on one political individual is wrong. The mode of election being proposed is not only for the office of The Lord Mayor. Division Mayors too shall also be affected. The amendments will further build synergies among the local authorities and Government agencies in physical planning development.
Whereas the Kampala Capital City Act, 2010 provides, in Section 21 for establishment of a Metropolitan Physical Planning Authority (MPPA), the law does not prescribe its character whether as a body corporate or not, and does not provide for its secretariat or financing. Yet its (MPPA) establishment is very urgently needed for purposes of harmonizing the broad development of Kampala and its neighbors. Without integrated planning in the metropolitan area, Kampala city will slowly develop into a dangerous bubble waiting to burst. These are some of the fundamental issues the amendments are focusing on as opposed to the claim of targeting one person.
Fortunately, the bill is now before parliament. Whoever has issues with our proposals and/or has better alternatives to offer, can go and table them before the committee for inclusion in the bill. We however need urgently to rise above political sentiments and start thinking about Kampala as our Capital City with a special status granted by the Constitution. Its image therefore, is our mirror as a nation. It defines who we are. Some of us have chosen to stand firm in the face of provocation, intimidation and character assassination from those opposed to the various reforms we have been making. We however get encouraged when we hear some people acknowledging the positive changes. We shall remain focused to those positive changes and commit to do more. You can’t make a good omellet without breaking some egg shells. That is why for us in Kampala it has been struggle but for good causes and it’s been worth fighting.
I thank you.
Frank K. Tumwebaze (MP)
Minister for the Presidency and
Kampala Capital City