By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA & SOLOMON ARINAITWE (The Daily Monitor)
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party needs 22 votes to kick city mayor Erias Lukwago out of office today.
It is expected that the city council, dominated by the NRM, which commands 19 out of the 34 councillors, will vote to impeach Mr Lukwago, whose two-year tenure has been a pain in the neck of the ruling party. The council vote has been called for 9am, but controversy might rock the process if the High Court issues an injunction blocking their move.
The court session, which kicks off an hour later at 10am, will be hearing an application for an interim order to stop Kampala minister Frank Tumwebaze from implementing the vote of no confidence against Mr Lukwago.
City lawyer Peter Walubiri, who is part of the legal team defending Mr Lukwago, appealed to Mr Tumwebaze to exercise caution because the matter he is trying to put to a vote is before court .
“Prudence requires that the Authority waits for the outcome of the court process but if the Authority proceeds hurriedly and finishes debate on the Lord Mayor before 10am, there would be good legal ground to challenge the outcome [of the Authority meeting] in court,” Mr Walubiri said.
“We would expect that the Authority would act with caution and respect the court process. How do they expect the Lord Mayor to be defending himself before the Authority and also be in court at the same time?” he added.
Mr Tumwebaze yesterday said the sitting of the council has nothing to do with Mr Lukwago’s court petition, adding that what he is doing is guided by the KCCA Act.
“When the report came out, I publicly announced the road map and gave councillors and all the other stakeholders involved seven days to read the report. If my intention was to rush and beat any anticipated litigation, I would have called the meeting a day or two after the release of the report.
“I am just learning it from the media that there is a court case. Why are they predicting the court outcome? I thought a court process is based on the balance of probability?” Mr Tumwebaze said.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s tribunal, which released its report a couple of weeks ago, faulted Mr Lukwago for incompetence, abuse of office and misconduct, and recommended changes to the KCCA Act that would see the next lord mayor chosen by the five division mayors from amongst themselves, should Mr Lukwago be impeached.
According to Section 12 of KCCA Act ,the lord mayor can be removed from office by the Authority if the tribunal finds a prima facie case against him, like it is in this case, and a resolution must supported by not less than two thirds majority of councillors.
Role of councillors
Mr Bruhan Byaruhanga, a lead petitioner, said councillors who are likely to back the motion to throw out Mr Lukwago had risen to 28, from 17 who signed the petition.
“By the time I went to the tribunal, I had 19 councillors but as I speak now, they are 28 out of 34. They are from NRM, DP and FDC,” Mr Byaruhanga said yesterday.
Currently, the opposition has only eight councillors and two independents –Mr Bernard Luyiga and Mr Allan Ssewanyana. Mr Luyiga fell out with Mr Lukwago and is likely to support his exit. The Lukwago camp claims to have two NRM sympathisers who they are relying on to deny the NRM 2/3 majority.
It is not clear how the four councillors from professional bodies, just sworn in last week will vote.
Mr Lukwago, who is expected to attend the hearing of his petition, was by press time still admitted at Mukwaya General Hospital adjacent to the American Embassy after he complained of fever and general body weakness.
“I am not shaken despite all the brutality meted out on me by members of the regime protection police. I hope I will fine tomorrow to follow what is going on ,” he said by telephone.
Mr Lukwago together with Dr Kizza Besigye were last week arrested and detained for two days after attempting to stage a rally in Kampala which Police said was illegal. They were later charged with holding meetings as members of an unlawful society.
Major faces in city standoff
Erias Lukwago- When Mr Lukwago trounced the NRM-sponsored Peter Sematimba in the 2011 mayoral race, he bragged that he had defeated President Museveni and the entire State machinery. Mr Museveni shot back, insisting he would ensure the development of Kampala with or without Mr Lukwago as mayor. In that election, the NRM, desperate to wrestle back political control of the city, vainly pulled all the stops to defeat Mr Lukwago.
The NRM hatched plans of kicking out Mr Lukwago. When Mr Lukwago and other councillors petitioned Parliament, alleging gross misconduct at the Authority, a parliamentary committee instead proposed that Mr Museveni takes over control of Kampala for six months. That report has since been rejected. The battle lines were redrawn at City Hall through a petition by councillors accusing Mr Lukwago of incompetence and abuse of office. A tribunal has since found him guilty of those charges and an Authority meeting today might impeach him.
Jennifer Musisi- She joined KCCA months after the election of Mr Lukwago but the two principals have clashed just about everything over the management of affairs of the city. As the KCCA executive director, Ms Musisi heads the technical team of the Authority.
While officiating over the opening of Wandegeya market last month, Mr Museveni, referring to her as “my daughter” was full of praise for Ms Musisi, boasting that she was the brainchild behind “development in Kampala” while warning that “mayors should have a limit”.
Frank Tumwebaze- Since his appointment as the Minister for Kampala last year, Mr Frank Tumwebaze has had no kind words for Mr Lukwago, whom he accuses of sabotaging development projects in Kampala.
He set up the tribunal that convicted Mr Lukwago of incompetence, abuse of office and neglect. To pave way for the Authority meeting to discuss the recommendations of the tribunal and conduct a vote on the impeachment of Mr Lukwago, he ensured the election of councillors representing professional bodies to the Authority, fully constituting it.
KCCA councillors by their parties
Adam Kasiim Kyazze
Joseph Mujuzi Lwanga
Hawa Ndege Namugenyi
Verna Mwinganisa Mbabazi
Dr Denson Nyabwana