There was drama in Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA council Wednesday when the speaker, Zahara Luyirika walked into the Council hall led by one of her assistants, Sauda Madada without her instrument of power, the mace accompanied by a few other staff and councillors. Looking surprised and disturbed, the speaker took up her seat at the front and gazed at her councillors with her chin resting in her right palm.
Moses Kataabu, the Kampala Central 11 councillor led the half-empty house in singing one stanza of the National Anthem and the Buganda Anthem. Luyirika made her opening remarks dominated by rants about the sabotage the Council is facing from the technical wing of the Authority.
“I think you can all see the situation. I know the entire world is watching. But we expected this. When you ask for accountability, they frustrate work. It is so disappointing that this is happening. You’ve heard on the radio and social media, they promised to frustrate us. Actually, the minister (Kampala State Minister Kabuye Kyofatogabye) said it loud and clear,” lamented the Speaker.
This stems from the speaker’s notices for council sittings on March 14th and 15th 2023. On Tuesday 14th, the council sitting couldn’t proceed after it was brought to the attention of the Speaker that the technical staff were not around and more, that there was no money to facilitate the meeting. In a March 10th, 2023 that was received by the Lord Mayor’s office on March 13th, 2023, the KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka said that the Institution didn’t have funds to facilitate council and committee sittings.
According to the letter, KCCA had budgeted Shillings 357,280,689 for 12 council sittings, ten sets of standing committee sittings, and eight business committee meetings for the entire financial year. However, Kisaka indicated that by March 9th, 2023, the council had held ten special and five ordinary sittings, and 50 committee meetings, both standing and business meetings.
“Consequently, there is no available budget to facilitate any other council and committee meetings for this quarter or any other council business that may come up before the close of the financial year,” reads the letter in part. However, Luyirika says that the house isn’t concerned about the allowance and the facilitation but rather offering service to the people. She says that all they need is the attendance of the technical staff to take minutes and answer to queries raised by the council on the activities of the Authority.
The Speaker dismissed the ED’s argument that the Council has sat on several occasions without meeting the objectives for their sitting. She directed the blame to the technical wing, which she says has declined to cooperate hence stagnating their work.
For instance, she says, the technical staff have severally declined to attend council to attend to queries of accountability such as budgeting for road nd market construction, and street vendors among others. The technical staff have also failed to present to Council contracts the authority entered with road constructors something she says has failed their efforts to have conclusiv3 discussions on the matter.
The communication from the Executive Director took several councilors by surprise on Tuesday, prompting the Speaker, the Deputy Lord Mayor Doreen Nyanjura, and other council members to convene a crisis meeting in which it was agreed that the Council sitting scheduled for Wednesday, March 15th intended to discuss the budget be maintained despite the absence of resources to facilitate it.
However, as the council convened on Wednesday, there was no clerk to take the minutes and no technical staff from the office of the Executive Director or otherwise. Discussions commenced before one of the Clerks joined but sat at the back.
The Speaker invited him to note council minutes, which he did after minutes of hesitation. The Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration John Mary Ssebuwufu made his presentation in which, he informed the Council that the State Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs had already submitted the same to Parliament without the approval of the Council.
As the meeting continued, more councilors came in and discussed the issues at hand interpreting the actions of the technical staff as intended to sabotage the work of the council. Jeremiah Keeya, the Councilor from Kasubi, and Kampala Central 2 Councilor Moses Kataabu were among those that condemned the actions of the technical staff and backed a proposal to sue the clerk for failure to show up among other staff who were said to be failing on job while frustrating council.
Makindye Woman Councilor, Solome Nakiridde Sebina equally, said that the technical staff is making attempts at frustrating their efforts to exercise their mandate but they shall not be cowed. She says that with the different challenges faced by people in Kampala, they shall sit whether or not they are facilitated financially.
It was resolved that the Central Executive Committee, the office of the Speaker, and one of the Councilors, Jeremiah Keeya draft a petition to Parliament distancing the council from the budget submitted by the minister.
They also want an audience with the Parliamentary Committee on budget, then the Presidency and the Parliament on Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises-COSASE.
It was also resolved that the Clerk to Authority, the State Minister for Kampala, and other KCCA staff for failing on their mandate and frustrating the council.