It is hard to talk about Erias Lukwago’s troubles as Kampala Lord Mayor without mentioning Makerere University KCCA councillor Bernard Luyiga. The duo share a political base in the Democratic Party (DP) but their early disagreements during Lukwago’s tenure seem to have provided a much-needed platform for the ruling party to launch an assault against Lukwago.
Luyiga, being the only experienced Opposition councillor with noticeable formal schooling, expected to be Lukwago’s natural choice for Deputy Lord Mayor, but he was overlooked in favour of Sulaiman Kidandala, a DP first-termer at KCCA.
Luyiga then set out to make Lukwago pay for ignoring him, becoming the first person to threaten to invoke the provisions of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Act that provide for the censure of the Lord Mayor. Luyiga would ally with KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi, who he so admired that he once declared on his Facebook page that he had given his newly born daughter the top city administrator’s first name.
Luyiga also closely worked with the Presidency and Kampala Capital City Authority minister Frank Tumwebaze and other councillors to oust Lukwago.
Lukwago reacted by sacking Luyiga from representing KCCA to the Makerere University Council, something which would form part of Luyiga’s testimony against Lukwago in the tribunal that considered the councillors’ petition against the Lord Mayor.
Former British prime minister Harold Wilson once said: “A week is a long time in politics.” Much earlier before him, in 1886, the Liberal British politician Joseph Chamberlain is recorded as having said: “In politics, there is no use in looking beyond the next fortnight.”
And this, largely, rings true in Kampala’s politics. At least as far as the formation and reformation of alliances is concerned. Luyiga now works with Lukwago while Kidandala and Lukwago are now at loggerheads.
Only last week, Luyiga spearheaded the formation of what he called a youth pressure group within universities – Youth for Justice Uganda – whose objective he said is to coordinate the efforts of the youth for inclusion in all matters.
In recent months, Luyiga has been working to repackage his image, criticising Tumwebaze’s actions and associating with Lukwago.
On the other hand, Kidandala, who was previously with Lukwago and was one of the very few voices speaking for the Lord Mayor during the November 25, 2013, meeting, has since fallen out with his former boss and Lukwago recently announced that he had sacked him as his deputy.
Kidandala was a victim of the squabbles between Lukwago on the one hand and Musisi, Tumwebaze and Luyiga and other ruling party councillors, on the other. In the process failing to have his appointment as Deputy Lord Mayor approved for more than a year.
When it was finally approved by the councillors, some issues still remained pending, with the KCCA administration claiming that the minutes approving him were not signed by the Lord Mayor, meaning his pay and facilitation as Deputy Lord Mayor remained frozen.
With Lukwago only remaining Lord Mayor in name for now a year, overtures were made to Kidandala to fill the void left by the Lord Mayor, and meetings between Kidandala and government big shots, particularly with police chief, Gen Kale Kayihura, were held.
Some of the details of such meetings, which are not very flattering to Lukwago, are now in the public domain, having been leaked in form of audio recordings. Lukwago claims that he has a recording of a longer conversation between Kidandala and Kayihura.
Informed sources say Kidandala and Lukwago fell out primarily over money, with Kidandala arguing that he needed to be confirmed as Deputy Lord Mayor to be able to access his pay pack and allowances for the position, which now remains frozen. Kidandala currently gets paid about Shs3m per month, the same as all the other councillors.
When contacted for this article, both Kidandala and Luyiga dilly-dallied, promising to get back to us and then not responding to reminders.
On his part, Lukwago argued that what has happened over the past year is “proof” that whatever charge his detractors levelled against him was just an excuse.
“Where have the reasons they aanced in the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire tribunal gone?” Lukwago said, “For example, I was found guilty of failure to sign authority minutes, who signs them now? Where are the standing committees, what have they done in the last one year?”
Mr Lukwago said KCCA was literally disbanded with his censure, which he says was the objective of the “perpetrators of my persecution”.
“They only wanted an opportunity to loot public funds without the strong oversight that I would offer,” the Lord Mayor said.
Of the KCCA councillors who currently have no clear job to perform since the authority cannot sit without a Lord Mayor or a substantive Deputy Lord Mayor to call and chair meetings, Lukwago says they “are paid to gossip about the Lord Mayor”.
According the Act, the councillors, apart from the Lord Mayor and his deputy, are supposed to be part-time workers paid allowances per sitting.
Dramatic censure attempt
The tribunal, chaired by the High Court judge Catherine Bamugemereire, ruled that the councillors had proved a prima facie case against Lukwago, paving the way for what is probably the most dramatic attempt at a political censure in the country’s history. Lukwago was not in attendance, indisposed after a show-down with the police in the days that preceded the eventful November 25, 2013, KCCA meeting.
He therefore left the matter in the hands of a team of lawyers, who had instructions to block the meeting where the censure motion was due to be moved and voted on, since a pending petition before the High Court was to look into the validity of the tribunal report.
The lawyers secured a court order blocking the meeting called by KCCA minister Tumwebaze, but the minister, although a copy of the order was flaunted at him as he chaired the meeting, asserted on camera that as far as he was concerned, there was no court order blocking the meeting.
As Tumwebaze argued so, he had the able support of Frank Kanduho, a lawyer who had just been elected to represent the Uganda Law Society in the KCCA council.
Kanduho, however, has also since gotten disenchanted, accusing the administration of KCCA of corruption and attempting to bottle up councillors’ concerns. The KCCA leadership has responded with even more severe accusations.
Kanduho, one of the four councillors elected in the run-up to Lukwago’s eviction, was voted in amidst accusations of flouted processes and amazing rush, and was criticised by some of his fellow lawyers for lending his name to what they saw as the scheme to oust Lukwago and not necessarily to improve how KCCA worked.
When they were sworn in, Musisi expressed the hope that they, being professionals, would help enhance the working of the authority. But going by Kanduho’s recent outbursts, he does not seem to have been very well utilised.
The vote was conducted, with 29 councillors against three voting to oust Lukwago, resulting in a series of swift actions by the technical wing of the city’s administration to remove all evidence of Lukwago being Lord Mayor.
The Lord Mayor’s parlour was locked up, Lukwago’s pay and allowances frozen and his picture was deleted from the city authority’s website, with a clear indication that the Lord Mayor had been impeached on November 25, 2013.
Lukwago, in the meantime, continued his war in the courts, seeming to register considerable victories along the way. First it was the High Court judge Yasin Nyanzi affirming the order that stopped the KCCA meeting that supposedly impeached Lukwago.
The judge said he gave the registrar instructions to block the meeting because he was convinced that the Lord Mayor would suffer “irreparable” damage if they proceeded to impeach him before the court listened to his petition. Hearing the petition had been set for 10am the same day while the meeting that is said to have impeached Lukwago happened just after 9am.
Another High Court judge, Lydia Mugambe, later issued a ruling annulling the censure and ordering Lukwago’s immediate return to office, resulting in the Lord Mayor’s momentary return to City Hall before, hours later, the acting Chief Justice and Court of Appeal judge Steven Kavuma again threw Lukwago out of office.
Lukwago appealed Kavuma’s ruling to the Supreme Court, only to learn after half a year since he had argued his case that he had filed it in the wrong court. He was aised to first appeal Kavuma’s ruling before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal, which he duly did.
The appeal, filed five months ago, can only be heard in February 2015 at the earliest, since the next Appeals Court session has been pushed to that time.
Mr Tumwebaze declined to give a comment stating that, “I’m sick and going to see a doctor, call other people to talk about the issues of Lukwago.”
However, KCCA publicist Peter Kaujju said the events surrounding the Lord Mayor have not hampered KCCA’s work in any way. “The institution called KCCA is functional because there are systems in place and we are running normally. The matter is before court, I’m unable to give any further details on it,” he said.
As Lukwago marks a year out of office on Tuesday, probably sure that he will not set foot again in the Lord Mayor’s office this term, given that he is fast running out of time to go through the court process, what goes on in his mind?
“In any given struggle, the first thing is to satisfy your conscience I have no stress because my conscience is free,” Lukwago says,
“I walk with my head high when I see people succumbing to impunity and one man’s rule. The monster they have created is going to swallow them up.”
Listening to him speak, one gets the impression that Lukwago has already launched into another campaign season, in which he will walk hand-in-hand with Luyiga and a few others of his earlier aersaries.
Chronology of events surrounding Lukwago’s troubles as Kampala Lord Mayor
November, 14, 2013: Mr Tumwebaze receives the tribunal report that said Lukwago was guilty of misconduct, abuse of office and incompetence.
November, 19, 2013: The four KCCA councillors representing professional bodies are elected.
November, 25, 2013: Meeting chaired by Mr Tumwebaze votes to impeach Mr Lukwago.
November 28, 2013: High Court Judge Yasin Nyanzi grants Lukwago a temporary injunction to stay in office until his application for a judicial review of the proceedings and findings of the tribunal that recommended his removal from office is disposed of.
February 4, 2014: Nyanzi refuses to disqualify himself from hearing Lukwago’s case, saying there was no evidence that he would be biased as claimed by the Attorney General.
March 6: Electoral Commission sets April 17 for by-elections for new Lord Mayor.
March 13: Lukwago files an application in the High Court Civil Division, seeking orders to stop the Electoral Commission from conducting the by-election.
March 21: High Court judge Lydia Mugambe starts hearing Lukwago’s application. His lawyers led by Abdu Katuntu ask court to halt the by-election since there was no vacancy for Lord Mayor.
March 28: Mugambe orders Lukwago back to office, saying the impeachment was illegal.
March 31: The Attorney General’s lawyers challenge Justice Mugambe’s ruling in the Court of Appeal. Sitting as a single judge, Justice Steven Kavuma, who is also the acting Chief Justice, issues an interim order staying the earlier ruling, and orders Lukwago out of office hours after his restoration.
April 1: Lukwago petitions the Supreme Court over Kavuma’s ruling.
April 21: Supreme Court rules that Lukwago’s appeal was properly before them and orders that it should be heard.
April 24: Supreme Court justices hear Lukwago’s appeal.
August 5: Makerere University KCCA councillor Bernard Luyiga petitions Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Wafula Oguttu to intervene in the delayed Supreme Court ruling, saying the Kampala electorate was being denied representation at City Hall.
August 21: Supreme Court rejects Lukwago’s move to return to the City Hall, saying he filed appeal in wrong court.
September 9: Frank Kanduho, councillor for Uganda Law Society, criticises minister Frank Tumwebaze and KCCA for “isolating” critical to KCCA managers.
September 18: Lukwago fires Kidandala as his deputy
The KEY PLAYERS
Kampala minister Frank Tumwebaze: He called for the meeting to impeach Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.
KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi: She led a team of technocrats to testify about the alleged role played by Lukwago in failing service delivery at City Hall.
Sulaiman Kidandala: He was previously with Lukwago and was one of the very few voices speaking for the Lord Mayor during the November 25, 2013, meeting. He has since fallen out with his former boss.
Bernard Luyiga: He closely worked with the Kampala minister Frank Tumwebaze and other councillors to oust Lukwago. Luyiga now works with Lukwago.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor