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Musisi is a victim of NRM politics

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director Jennifer Musisi has come under vicious attack, accused of having an upper hand in causing NRM’s loss in the recent city elections.

President Museveni lost to Dr Kizza Besigye in Kampala and NRM failed to win a single seat in parliament after losing the three it held (Nakawa, Makindye East and Kampala Central). The pattern has been the same at mayoral and other local levels.

There have been rave reviews on how this came about although Kampala and other urban centres have always been anti-establishment. NRM didn’t expect a significant shift in its fortunes in Kampala but, again, not how it turned out.

President Museveni is reported to have voiced the same concern - of Musisi’s work having alienated some voters. The way I know Museveni, he was quoting from hard research, most likely intelligence reports which tend to be spot-on. He is quoted to have said the city boss was doing a great job, but with a hard-stance approach.

But social media commentators have taken this out of context to fit their own preferences. Their interest was to impute a simmering rift between the president and Musisi, which is far from one topic. That’s not how Museveni works – breaking news of fallouts with his juniors.

Let us first agree that Kampala, as the capital of Uganda, must be the epitome of development. Settlement and commercial activities have to conform to a certain standard, which is what KCCA set out to do.

For long, government was lenient and allowed a laissez-faire way of doing things and the city was becoming a huge slum as politicians put their careers ahead of development and modernization. That’s how the opposition came to build a power base using substandard service to appeal to the urban poor while the elite remained gagged.

By the time President Museveni appointed Musisi, the city had long been sold to populist politics. It was largely under the reign of DP’s John Ssebaana Kizito and Nasser Sebaggala that the city was run down with unplanned housing, poor waste management, traffic clogging, poor revenue administration, land grabbing, flooding, etc.

Musisi came and instituted drastic measures that pleased some and incensed many, including eminent leaders in the opposition, leading to the confrontation with lord mayor Erias Lukwago.

At the start of Musisi’s tenure, while NRM thought Kampalans would appreciate a better-organized working and living environment, the opposition was worried its dominance was under threat. They hatched plans to disrupt business and found partners in FDC and DP to try and make the city ungovernable.

Undoing the rot had to come with a cost – both financial and political. It’s in the course of overseeing such transformation that a section of city dwellers chose to think of resistors of change as allies and NRM as the enemy.

Vocal opposition politicians fed people on rhetoric while doing nothing on the ground. They found allies among political double-dealers who funded the opposition to oppose Musisi’s work as she had blocked channels through which they pilfered taxpayers’ money.

They wrote report after report, often acknowledging Musisi’s effort but accusing her of highhandedness and toughness. One wonders if public officials are meant to compromise on their work to appease the incompliant!

In reality, opposition in Kampala is weak but appeals to emotions of those who are affected by the move to undo the backlog of a run-down city. With time, they have created a semblance of being majority.

Kampala voters are at peace with the likes of Erias Lukwago, Muhammad Nsereko, Kato Lubwama, Allan Ssewanyana, Mubarak Munyagwa and others who run that caliber of politics.

Eventually, NRM in Kampala has no ground structure to match the generation of voters in the league of the Lukwagos. This meant that Musisi’s operations were not insulated from talkback of detractors while President Museveni has had to do the political mobilization himself, yet he is too engaged with other national and international errands.

This is where double-dealers wedged themselves into the picture to find relevance so they may be appointed to high places. They didn’t mind who would become collateral damage.

It was even worse when a novice unknown in political and leadership circles was selected to be flag-bearer for lord mayorship. Much as Daniel Kazibwe (Ragga Dee) would appeal to the generation of Kampala voters as a celebrity, he was not as close to them as Lukwago.

To win, one must have a strong candidate, with a strong message and with ideological clarity. NRM has to groom such aspirants for future contests while the work of KCCA should be backed with pro-people remedies, but without compromising quality.


The author is a presidential aide for media management.

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