When Jennifer Musisi was appointed executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), which followed Kampala City Council (KCC), she seemed well armoured to repel any manner of attack from all aggrieved parties.
She was like the skilled soup eater who chooses not to dip her lips directly into the steaming dish for fear of scalding her mouth, or even face, but eats from the sides.
The skill of not being orthodox in the way she carries out her duties has won her enemies and friends alike. But most importantly, it is a skill that has made her deliver amidst adversity, while the influence of her knockers seems to be fading.
For instance, the power jostling between Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Musisi has left the former’s status at the White hall wobbly. Lukwago was impeached in a dodgy special authority meeting last year. His fate is yet to be decided by the courts of law.
Musisi has decided to carry on work with or without the approval of the lord mayor and the authority.
Last week while hosting some of us to a breakfast engagement at the City hall, I asked her whether she thought the authority (council) was still relevant in management of the city, to which she replied that an amendment to KCCA Act was in offing and it would sort out major impediments.
The authority has not sat for almost two years, but this has not stopped the city from getting the facelift. Had Musisi chosen to stick to the rules and dictates of politicians, perhaps Kampala would have become impassable.
Of course, we need rules and we should have a body that supervises the bureaucracy at the White hall, else we get carried away by their ‘good’ things. She has an ambitious plan of reducing congestion by introducing buses and cable cars- hoping that there will be a steady supply of electricity.
She wants to rid the city of boda boda riders, but she indicated to us that there was some political shouldering. She didn’t mention them, but it is common knowledge that often President Museveni has come to the rescue of his these riders whenever the police or the city authorities decide to chase them out of the city.
With such a history, and with the 2016 general election winking, that idea may not be implemented until after 2016. These riders are looked at as great mobilisers for votes. Kampala was known for its beautiful seven hills and the elusive impala.
There is no zoo in Kampala or statues to remind the residents and visitors of such presence of animals. Even the impala that once graced the city emblem was removed when the authority rebranded. It may appear an uphill task to make a memorable postcard about Uganda.
We have block upon block of featureless brick and concrete structures. But now Musisi says they will erect statues of different animals at different strategic points. The Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre want to reintroduce animals in the city.
So they want the city to zone out some areas for that activity. The Centenary park is still engulfed in controversy but Musisi says court is yet to resolve the matter. And there are plans to turn it into a green area. Already, an independent garden adjacent to Sheraton hotel will be remodelled and open to the public with some modern restaurants.
As she basks in apparent victory, Musisi still has a lot to untangle. First, the attitude of the city dwellers and users is very annoying. Many buildings and structures, which were approved by the city authority, offend the Planning Act.
Once she had the nerves to crack hard on those with illegal structures, but that vigour seems to be waning or it has evaporated. We have land mafias who manipulate the city leases to their own benefit; she needs to crack the whip on them.
Her authority and execution of it has to be predictable, reasonable and fair. One group can’t be treated differently from another. The city enforcement officers need to improve on their practices and handle people with dignity, or they will provoke violence from the aggrieved city dwellers and vendors.
Some of them are involved in outright theft or collusion of it. We still have city dwellers, whose outlook and conduct is of pre-stone age. They spit, drop rubbish, and trample on the lawns. Musisi needs to come up with a social and economic plan to curb crime in the city.
But above all, she and her team need to bury the hatchet with the council members. These are people’s representatives, and until the law makes their presence irrelevant, they need respect and teamwork for the betterment of the city.
The author is the finance director, The Observer Media Ltd.
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