MPs back trimming of Kampala Lord Mayor’s powers

Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago

Parliament’s presidential affairs committee has backed various changes to the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) law which, among other things, seeks to trim the powers of the Lord Mayor. The committee, however, rejected the proposal to make the Minister for Kampala the political head of the capital city.

But it also said the provision in the current law, which provides for the Lord Mayor as the political head, should be deleted. As is the case in many other district councils, the committee has recommended the provision for a KCCA speaker and deputy speaker to play the role of chairing authority meetings. Currently, the Lord Mayor presides over the meetings of the authority.

KCCA speaker

The committee supported the change in the law for the speaker of KCCA to preside over the sittings of the business committee and in his/ her absence the deputy speaker to perform the duty. In the same clause, the committee has proposed that the business committee shall generate business of the council and arrange the business of each meeting and the order in which the business shall proceed.

Currently, it is the Lord Mayor who determines the council’s business. While presenting the KKA Amendment Bill last week for the second reading, the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, who represented the Minister for Kampala, said:

“The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Act to streamline the governance of the capital city by having the Lord Mayor elected by councillors and to clarify the roles of the Lord Mayor.”

Adjumani Woman MP Jesca Ababiku, in her remarks as the chairperson of the presidential affairs committee, which scrutinised the Bill, told Parliament they had rejected some of the proposed amendments, including the one for having the Lord Mayor elected by councillors.

The committee wants the current status quo of universal adult suffrage where all voters in Kampala participate in electing a Lord Mayor. The committee also rejected a similar proposal to have division mayors elected by the division councillors. Moving away from the current arrangement of Kampala division councils being at the mercy of KCCA for finances, the committee also gives more powers to the division councils to be in charge of developing and managing their budgets and to have autonomous town clerks.

Not only has the committee proposed to have the word ‘Authority’ removed from wherever it appears in the Bill and replaced with ‘Council’, it has also rejected the proposal for the creation of a Kampala Metropolitan Authority.

The proposal to drop the usage of ‘Authority’ for ‘Council’ is premised on the ruling in the Odongo Alex Oryang Vs Nabillah Naggayi Ssempala case in which it was stated that Kampala is a district. Some of the committee members who have signed the report as a way of agreeing with its recommendations include Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi and Busongora South MP Jackson Mbaju.

Others who signed it are Ababiku (the chairperson), Kassanda South MP Simeo Nsubuga, Mawogola County MP Joseph Ssekabito, Bujenje County MP Patrick Kasumba, Aringa County MP Ashraf Noah Olega, Bukedea Woman MP Anita Among, Bukanga County MP Stephen Kangwagye, and Kapchorwa County MP Rukiya Chekamondo.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, said the Bill and many others which were presented for second reading would be debated and considered when the House resumes in January. Kadaga said plenary sessions would resume on January 8, 2019.