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Gen Tumukunde, divided Opposition and why Museveni is flip-flopping on Lord Mayor powers

At the centre of his change of heart are three main issues led by the division in Opposition, Godfrey Nyakana's ambitions as well as the shocking one coming from Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde -- the two eyeing the Lord Mayor's seat.

CITY HALL | Can President Museveni recapture the political wing of the City Hall? He seems to believe he can and will, come 2021 general elections. If not, what else would explain the flip-flopping?

The Lord Mayor’s seat is one of the few that would make the General of NRA bow to ‘polishing’ (PR) if that is what it takes to capture it in a ballot. Erias Lukwago, like Al-Hajj Nasser Ntege Sebaggala and John Ssebaana Kizito before him, have given Museveni such a bloody nose in Kampala that he has run around to try and water down the political powers of the Lord Mayor’s office.

But suddenly, President Museveni is defending the top City Hall office — to remain with administrative and political powers — yet he had reduced the office to nothing more than a ceremonial fitting.

Sendo Cleaners

At the centre of his change of heart are three main issues led by the division in Opposition, Godfrey Nyakana’s ambitions as well as the shocking one coming from Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde — the two eyeing the Lord Mayor’s seat.

In 2015, the then Kampala minister Frank Tumwebaze tabled KCCA Bill, with unfriendly provisions that included denying city dwellers to vote the Lord Mayor but to be voted among the councillors.

But in twist of things, State minister for Kampala Benny Namugwanya revealed on Thursday morning that the president had directed her to review KCCA Amendment Bill 2015, which was seeking to clip the powers of the Lord Mayor, to perform only ceremonial roles.

According to Namugwanya, Museveni argued that elected leaders who have been voted through adult suffrage cannot just perform ceremonial functions.

“It’s the reason why we reviewed the Bill. And after, we reported to the president,” she added.

Last week, Beti Kamya, the minister for Kampala, and Namugwanya led members of the Presidential Affairs Committee of Parliament, which has been working on amending original Bill to State House, to meet the president.

Jessica Ababiku, the chairperson of the committee, revealed that the president agreed with the amended version of the Bill.

But the president told MPs that the Bill should have proposals on the development of the city, without causing conflicting roles and responsibilities.

Among the new proposals in the Bill, if passed by Parliament, is the creation of the speaker’s office at City Hall.

“The speaker and the deputy will be elected from among the councillors,” said MP Simeo Nsubuga, who is a member of the committee.

Ababiku also explained that they found out there was duplication of roles at City Hall, with the Lord Mayor being the speaker.

But Erias Lukwago warned the MPs that if they dare to pass the Bill trimming the powers of his office, he will engage the public and legal means.

Why Museveni changed his mind?

With Godfrey Nyakana, the former Mayor of Central Division and the chairman of NRM party Kampala, announcing that he will challenge for the top seat at City Hall, two sources at State House reveal this re-energised President Museveni.

“Museveni has never given up on capturing the Lord Mayor seat through elections. This time, he thinks Lukwago has weakened politically. So, if the NRM party candidate wins, he wants him to have more powers,”a source reveals.

Museveni could also have been emboldened by the growing rift among the Opposition. The division between the main Opposition party, FDC, and the other parties, especially Democratic Party, is ever growing wide.

Lukwago and Mukono North MP Betty Nambooze have for years opposed the leadership of Norbert Mao and taken to supporting Dr Kizza Besigye with more enthusiasm than they give their own DP party.

Then there emerged Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi and his People Power movement, who are also seeing in City Hall a tempting chalice worth drinking eternal waters from.

Already, a number of politicians across the divide, such as Dr Abed Bwanika of People’s Devlopment Party, Michael Mabikke of Social Democratic Party, DP publicist John Kakande and Kawempe South MP Latif Sebaggala have all showed interest and vowed to send Lukwago to the proverbial Taiwan come 2021.

Museveni’s hacksaw received further cutting edge with Gen Tumukunde, the former security minister, throwing his hat into the ring. Senior Presidential Advisor and former presidential spokesperson Tamale Mirundi told this reporter that Tumukunde has put aside the stray bullet-tear gas canister saga and feels he can vie for a major political office.

In March 2016, Tumukunde was shot in the leg during a fracas in Fort Portal where he was campaigning for his son Amanya Tumukunde in the West Youth MP election.

Efforts to get a confirmation from Tumukunde on whether he would indeed join the chorus of those drawing out the mosquito noise over Lukwago’s ears were futile, but Mirundi is confident he has got the right information.

And it that holds, Ibrahim Kasozi, the Makindye East and FDC Opposition figure, believes that he might be Museveni’s candidate in the mayoral race.

“He has brought him counter act the growing opposition in the city. But the challenge Tumukunde will face is the youth constituency, which is unemployed and hopeless,” Kasozi said.

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