Kampala. After seven years at the helm, Ms Jennifer Musisi on Monday announced her resignation as the executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), putting behind years of political fights with the Lord Mayor, Mr Erias Lukwago, Kampala Affairs Minister Beti Kamya and public spats from President Museveni.
In her 21-page resignation communication to the President, Ms Musisi did not specify the reasons for her departure but listed her challenges and achievements since she assumed the office in 2011.
However, yesterday’s celebratory remarks by Mr Lukwago underline the gravity of the administrative turmoil or hostility that Ms Musisi has faced during her KCCA tenure.
While addressing the press at his office yesterday, Mr Lukwago could not hide his excitement at Ms Musisi’s departure.
“Modesty demands that when someone comes crumbling, you don’t celebrate, but in this case I had to put modesty aside. I can’t hide my excitement at this resignation, I have witnessed and celebrated the exit of Kabakumba Matsiko from this powerful docket, I have now witnessed and celebrated the exit of Madam Jenifer Musisi and I cannot tell you how happy I am,” Mr Lukwago said.
“I know soon I will witness and celebrate the exit of Beti Kamya, and this should point to a signal that I will also celebrate the exit of Mr Yoweri Museveni,” he added.
In her October 15 resignation letter, Ms Musisi listed diverse challenges she has endured for seven years as KCCA boss.
She cited competing political interests against strategic decision making, inadequate and poor funding to meet government and public expectations, lack of critical permanent staff to perform the duties, political fights and lack of political support to perform her duties and interference in her work.
Although she mentioned the challenges in general terms without any specifics, sources at State House and KCCA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ms Musisi had increasingly got distressed by political blame games by the President.
After Mr Museveni lost elections in Kampala in 2016, he publicly blamed his defeat on Ms Musisi’s highhandedness on the city voters.
The President at a press briefing at his country home in Rwakitura said he had lost elections in Kampala due to Ms Musisi’s “poor tactics” in running the city, citing the harsh eviction of hawkers off the streets.
Sources further say Ms Musisi had become increasingly frustrated that while she was being blamed for not doing enough to instil orderliness in the city, many of her technical decisions intended to achieve have been unfairly and arbitrarily blocked by the President or Ms Kamya, the latest being the halting of demolition of illegal buildings in the city by KCCA.
While Ms Musisi had issued a list of more than 500 buildings to be demolished, Ms Kamya a few days later, halted the move and said more time was needed for consultations.
“The purpose of this letter is to request you to put on hold the demolition of buildings’ programme until we have held the proposed harmonisation meeting between KCCA executive and division mayors,” Ms Kamya’s letter to Ms Musisi reads in part.
Earlier, the minister had also directed Ms Musisi to effect a pay raise for city councillors but the latter ignored the decision on account that KCCA did not have the money for it.
Between 2010 and 2015, KCCA embarked on registration of all boda boda cyclists in the city in order to streamline their operations and regulate the industry. The authority said the cyclists had become a menace. However, police stopped the exercise.
However, behind these incidents are contradictions on Museveni-Musisi relations. On several occasions, the President had praised Ms Musisi of transforming the city.
While officiating at the NRM anniversary celebrations in January 2012, President Museveni praised Ms Musisi for the transformational work she was doing in Kampala.
“You all can see what Jennifer Musisi has achieved in a short time. We need about 2,000 Musisis to lead the ministries, districts and sub-counties in the war against corruption,” he said.
However, since then, latent friction has been building up between the two, with the Presidnt quashing many technical decisions by Ms Musisi.
In April this year, the President quashed the KCCA directive on taxation of taxi operators. While KCCA had proposed Shs120,000 per taxi per month, the President scrapped it and ordered a payment of Shs720,000 annually, which would translate into Shs60,000 a month.
Sources said this reversal upset Ms Musisi who complained that while she was being accused of not expanding the revenue base for KCCA, her genuine efforts to raise money were being thwarted by the President.
Our sources also said for about a year, Ms Musisi had not stepped at State House and each time the President would ask Ms Kamya, she would say the KCCA executive head had other engagements. This claim could not be independently verified.
In her resignation letter, Ms Musisi cited inadequate financing to KCCA. However, this runs contrary to the fact that KCCA has received marked and progressive increase in budget funding since 2011 when its predecessor, Kampala City Council, was phased out.
The KCCA budget has grown from a paltry Shs48b during KCC final years to Shs461.5b in the current financial year.
With the huge budgetary funding, KCCA embarked on an ambitious plan to transform the city.
Captain Francis Babu, a former councillor at the City Hall and former MP for Kampala Central Division, said KCCA has a huge budget to perform its duties.
“The previous council had competent and highly qualified personnel like the ones of today, but they were thoroughly starved of funds to perform their duties. Government came up with a proposal to create a ministry for KCCA so that they could draw big resources and in that they have succeeded. They now have a big budget which they can easily draw from,” Capt Babu said.
However, he noted that the constant fights between the political and technical have stifled KCCA efforts to achieve their targets.
“They could have done better if they did not waste much time fighting. Good leaders always sit down and plan together, but for KCCA, this has never been the case because they spent a lot of time fighting each other,” he said.
After Ms Musisi’s appointment shortly after the 2011 elections, the stage was set for protracted conflict between the technical arm and political arm of KCCA.
Shortly after, Ms Musisi got into wrangles with Mr Lukwago who accused her of usurping his powers. The climax of this antagonism was the impeachment of the Lord Mayor in 2013, which he challenged in court and was quashed.
Court ordered his reinstatement with full pay but Ms Musisi had never approved the payments for the period the impeachment lasted.
She is said to be the architect of the tribunal that implicated Mr Lukwago in abuse of office, incompetence and misconduct which were the grounds for the impeachment.
Mr Lukwago spent two of his five years tenure 2011 to 2016 out of office after the impeachment by the councillors.
Yesterday, Ms Musisi’s resignation presented the opportunity to harmonise relations between the political and technical wings of KCCA and recognition of the Lord Mayor’s authority.
“Starting from today, we are embarking on normalising relationships between the other main administrative buildings and Lord Mayor’s palour. The Alfa and Omega is finally gone so I think this will give us a better chance to work together,” Mr Lukwago said.
However, he added KCCA will not allow Ms Musisi to leave office until she has presented all the accountability.
“We cannot allow her to leave in December without presenting clear accountability. We want her to present how she has been awarding contracts in the KCCA because she refused to reveal who the contracts committee chairperson is,” Mr Lukwago said.
He said there will also be a review of KCCA salary structures and appraisal for staff.
The Lord Mayor claimed Ms Musisi recruited about 700 staff irregularly without approval of the Public Service ministry and commission.
While appearing before KCCA’s Public Accounts Committee recently, Ms Musisi was tasked to explain how some KCCA employees were recruited. The committee said majority of staff had been irregularly recruited.
For instance, 280 people, who had been recruited by the Public Service Commission, were not given jobs upon reaching KCCA.
The committee noted that the new staff were told there was no money to pay them yet there were employees holding their positions in acting capacity and earning big salaries.
Ms Kamya at the time said she had alerted the Public Service Commission to look into the matter and she was waiting for a report.
“It is a serious issue which must be addressed because we have heard concerns from people about how jobs are allegedly given without due diligence. We will sort it out,” she said.
Ms Musisi could not be reached for a response to many of the claims made against her or actions attributed to her.
She did not answer our calls or text messages to her cellular phone number. Ms Kamya too did not respond.
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago: “Starting from today (yesterday), we are embarking on normalising relationships between the other main administrative buildings and Lord Mayor’s palour. The Alfa and Omega is finally gone so I think this will give us a better chance to work together.”
Capt Francis Babu: “They could have done better if they did not waste much time fighting. Good leaders always sit down and plan together, but for KCCA, this has never been the case because they spent a lot of time fighting each other.”