As a student of Professor Afunanduula, taught to merit the award of a Higher Diploma in City Management and Urban Environment, and as a shadow Local Government Minister, I wrote a proposal to Parliament to create for Uganda 16 Cities basing on regions (federo) and with a clearly defined role for each of these 16 Cities.
The colonialists had started on the plan to create cities of purpose with Kampala being the Capital City which was also to work as the commercial City of Uganda. Kampala was given Municipalities strategically to off load it of some responsibilities.
Entebbe Municipality as the seat of Political leadership, housing the State house and Offices for Central Government Ministries and residences for Government Officials. And Jinja Municipality with a stable electricity supply as the industrial town of Uganda. This is what is called a City for a purpose and these were to grow into Cities with time and further investment in infrustracture and attraction of big businesses and human population.
The proposal we drew and presented to the Shadow Cabinet before it was laid in Parliament proposed purpose for the 16 Cities in addition to being Regional Capitals with answers especially to our young people who have been migrating to Kampala in search of the same.
Our lazy government represented by the majority MPs threw my alternative policy statement in the dustbin but went back to it stealthily and picked out pieces that resonates with their Politics and hurriedly declared cities ahead of the 2021 elections to offer political offices as Museveni seeks to patronise everybody. The New cities will provide Jobs for regime cadres and it’s my guess that after the 2021 Museveni Presidential Coronation, Article 5 of the Constitution will be amended to give powers of all Cities to the President.
A city is a large human settlement. It can be defined as a permanent and densely settled place with administratively defined boundaries. Cities must have extensive systems for service delivery for example housing, transportation, sanitation, it therefore follows that a City is as good as the services it can offer. When creating Cities other than the Capital City, purpose should be attached to each new City.
Modern Cities are defined by their distinctive purpose for example, Kandy the Cultural City of Sriranka, Oxford City of learning in Britain, Newyork the Commercial City of USA, Nagona the Agricultural City of Japan, Riyad the tourist City of Saudi Arabia, St.Charles the fishing City of America, Mecca the religious City of Saudi Arabia, Dubai the trader’s City of United Arab Emirates, Roma- Vatican the Italian spiritual City.
It’s sad that the new cities which have hurriedly been constituted are minus a substantive plan, charter or Act of Parliament. They are Cities created without a purpose or role. In our various alternative policy statements we had proposed these Cities as regional Capitals but Mr.Museveni resisted the adoptation of federo as a basis for Regional Government in Uganda.
The newly declared cities are therefore mere constituencies for politicians AND they have from day one manifested the true spirit of their formation as politicians out there scramble for positions of leadership. Soon these Cities will receive Executive Directors who are going to usurp the powers of elected leader and where the elected Lord Mayor will be a member of the Opposition, we will face a replay of what is happening in Kampala. At this rate also expect a Minister for Gulu,Jinja, Masaka, Resident City Commissioner ( RCCs) with a crowd of Assistants,.
The fact that we don’t have many politicians who can sustain a resistence against the Junta of Erias Lukwago’s Calibre, the New City’s political leadership will be an office for leaders to get hefty salaries but not exercising power. Infact what has been the people’s power in these urban centres is going to be channeled to the Presidency.
To understand the emptiness of this endevour just check out and see whether you will be travelling to any of these new Cities to access anything which unto was taking you to Kampala. Is there any person in Gulu who won’t travel to Kampala for a service and access the same service in Gulu now that it is a City?
Even with the declaration of Cities the Central government is still acting mean as it’s not transferring any institution to the New Cities. For example why don’t Mr. Museveni take Government back to Entebbe, why not take Parliament or Courts plus Luzira Prison to Mbale, It’s useless for one to call Lira a City when people continue to travel from there to Entebbe in order to board a planes. Worse still, we have even failed to offer the new Cities well built Council Offices and most of them are to operate in hired buildings!
I therefore wish to request Ugandans not to settle for titles but demand for equitable development which must include an even – handed resource sharing system.Without this, I’m sorry,I won’t join you in celebrating the titling by declaring a new status to small and basically slum urban settlements.
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