Ms Amina Lukanga Nanziri was the biggest surprise name on the list of Resident District and City Commissioners plus deputies released by President Museveni in March 2022. She was named the presidential representative in the Capital after Hudu Husein was dropped from the coveted role and sent to the Yumbe district in the West Nile sub-region.
The move generated a protracted debate in the public with many exhibiting pessimism the former Kibuli Parish Councillor would suffice the character capable of the highly demanding role in a highly confusion-ridden city.
One year later, Lukanga beams with a large smile when asked to explain what has been the magic behind her miraculous reign where characteristic fights with the political wing and social and political instabilities only seem to exist in the minds of the citizens in memories than reality.
Not only has there been no major unrest in form of demonstrations in Kampala for the past one year but also the political wing under the hither-to-cantankerous Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has been serene enough for one to suggest that they are enjoying unparalleled calm working with pPresidentMuseveni’s secret girl-Lukanga.
Asked to explain the amazing trend in an interview with Watchdog last week, the RCC attributed everything to God before going on to elaborate on other factors. She revealed that teamwork, and transparency were the key ingredients of his reign that has simplified everything for her. She for instance cites close cooperation with his deputies in the five divisions of the city whom she describes as a team that she consults on everything she needs addressed without necessarily dictating and bossing around them. She shares information openly and discusses with them freely as they push to find solutions to particular crises that may have risen in their specific areas of jurisdiction. This, Lukanga says has greatly helped in combating friction that could have had adverse effects on the execution of duties in the city.
” I have five deputies and on very good terms with each one of them. Say, for instance, I want to verify something in Kawempe, I don’t need to go there but call the Deputy RCC and within a minute or so, I have the response. I am not a boss but rather a teammate and this explains the seamless cooperation you people witness out there.” she explains.
On the clash less relationship between the office of the RCC and the political wing led by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and his Deputy Doreen Nyanjura, previously known to be contagious in the city administration, Lukanga brags that her earlier background in the politics of Kampala does the wonder of containing the situation. She categorically states that this has not been her first time working with Lukwago. The two once worked together when the RCC chaired the Kampala District Youth Council. Then, she says she got the opportunity to understand the Mayor whom she surprisingly says can be a lovable character if effort is made to try to understand him.
Lukanga explains that understanding and sticking to one’s lane has considerably enhanced harmony between the two wings. She told Watchdog that when she was appointed to the position, she held an engagement with the troublesome Mayor and intimated to him that she was there to work for the people of Kampala which is the same thing Kampalans expected from him(Lukwago). This thus meant that they had shared interests hence a call for teamwork by marking boundaries so as not to give room to unnecessary friction. She happily reveals that she has oftentimes met and shared notes with the Lord Mayor and he has also often invited her to functions where they have shared extensively for the benefit of the people they both lead.
Explaining the calm in the city, the President’s girl intimates that understanding the fact that she was picked from the lowly class of the city which forms 80% of the population in Kampala would be key in understanding the trend. Lukanga notes that she understands the issues that affect the ordinary Kampala having been raised amongst them herself.
” 80% of our people live in the slums and are employed in the informal sector. I was picked from amongst them and I understand their concerns very well and we speak a similar language which has helped in making well-informed decisions to mitigate chaos amid all the challenges you hear,” Lukanga elaborates.
Elaborating further on the salient milestones arrives at so far by her office, the RCC proudly underlines the issue of the markets in Kampala which she says were a war zone at the time of her appointment. She has God to thank for the normalcy that has reigned since. Explaining the methods used to achieve this in so short a time, Lukanga argued that the solution to the problems of Kampala is right with its people and the mistake leaders make is to look elsewhere. She recounts that her approach was largely to give audience to the affected people of Kampala, listening more than she talked. By so doing, she says she would capture problems in their depth and solutions as well. “The landlords who had illegally possessed stalls in public markets and charged exorbitantly in rent, and sometimes sales of these stalls had complicated things for the common person. When I observed it and reported to the President, we were guarded and at last, we have managed to return the stalls to the poor,” she intimates with pride.
Lukanga is, however, dissatisfied with some of the directives the president issued concerning the ownership of stalls in the city markets, especially in St Balikuddembe, aka Owino. She specifies the directive for all landlords who let out their stalls to relinquish ownership to tenants forcefully. The RCC reveals that this decision could have been arrived at by the president out of misinformation. She suggests that the president might have been made to believe that all these stalls are owned by the rich of the city which is largely the opposite in the majority of the cases. She explains that some of the stall owners are the poorest who, out of failing health or old age pulled all their savings to buy these stalls from market leaders who had posed as owners. For lack of capital, poor health or old age, these opted to let out their stalls to the able-bodied with capital to occupy in exchange for a monthly stipend.
When the president ordered, that these stalls be occupied by the tenants, the able were practically being empowered against their genuinely vulnerable benefactors. Lukanga stresses the urgent need to address the mistake which she says has caused untold suffering to the poor who had the stalls as their sole source of livelihood.
” Some of these are widows or old aged women and men who spent all they had to buy these stalls as insurance against incapacity. They use the proceeds from the stalls to pay rent, pay school fees and find what to eat. With this directive, these have been rendered hopeless and we need to address it as soon as possible or else our government will have to pay dearly in times of elections.”
She indicates that the whole situation needs to be reviewed by the president while putting into account the least properties that have been dispossessed at the expense of their able-bodied and income-able tenants. Alternatively, she suggests a plan to compensate these poor if at all the issue is to have stall owners practically in the markets.
In cases where some landlords have access to more than one stall, the youthful Presidential Envoy proposes that there should be dialogue with the aggrieved to have them relinquish the extra stalls to the government such that they can be given to others. Even in these circumstances, she suggests due compensation because none of these acquired the stalls free of charge.
On the taxi industry, the RCC expresses appreciation to her predecessor, Hudu Husein’s administration which she says laid the groundwork for an organized industry. She says by the time she came in, the different factions in the city had been brought together into one association which made the work of managing them an easy one. Building on that foundation, Lukanga says she has severally interfaces with the leadership to address issues that may keep arising and cultivated a conducive environment for dialogue to weed out cases of infighting and the result has been the calm witnessed out there.
In the Boda bBodaindustry, she says she has had to count on the support from her superiors, mainly the minister for Kampala, Hajjat Minsa Kabanda and her Works and Transport counterpart, General Edward Katumba Wamala. Before her deployment in the city, Lukanga says she had heard and witnessed a lot of turmoil in the body boda trade that oftentimes culminated into gross insecurity. Efforts had, however, been made to reconcile the hitherto warring groups to form one umbrella association hence the return of order.
On Museveni’s decision to consider young people in the RDC/RCC deployment in March last year, Lukanga describes it as ” define insight.” He hails the President for having what she calls a rare skill to do the right thing at the right time” reflecting on the statistical composition of the national population which she estimates at at least 80% of the people being bellow 40 years.” In Kampala for instance, where I was deployed, 80% of the population are youth who are the most active both in business and public service. It’s, therefore more likely that I am more likely to make decisions that reflect the interests of my peers because we share many things.” she explains.
She indicates that young people are often more patient and understand the language of their fellow youths and she is confident that’s why the RDC and RCCs of this regime have not disappointed the appointing authority despite a few challenges in their work.
More needs to be done in capacity building
Despite all the success stories registered in their first year, Lukanga notes that a lot needs to be done by the RDC Secretariat to enhance the capacity of the officers. She explains that since RDCs are appointed without a professional basis and they have to learn on the job, there is need for comprehensive ccapacity-buildingdrives to curtail situations where appointees have to gamble while they are expected to deliver in a highly sensitive assignment. He notes that the one-week orientation workshop that was organised for the officials at the National Leadership Institute -NALI in July last year was way below what would be required to enhance their capabilities on the job. She explains that this explains why many of the officials have been implicated in some deficiencies.
Lukanga politely proposes continuous capacity-building interventions for the officials which she says would go a long way in building confidence and efficiency among them.
Similarly, the RCC is dissatisfied with the meagre pay RDCs receive, coupled with poor facilitation yet they are charged with the critical role of supervising an entire district. She for instance notes that a Deputy RDC earns a paltry nine hundred and fifty thousand shillings (950,000) from which they have to rent a house in the district where they are deployed and support their families they might have left in the city or elsewhere. These, she says don’t have transport vehicles and are forced to move on bodabodas while executing state duties.
Lukanga is concerned that if not addressed, this will continue expos g the officials to dubious means to defend the lifestyle expected of them from the public yet they can’t get it from their employers.
In a special message to the people of KKampala Lukanga reminds them that she is in the city to work for everyone and that they should not hesitate to reach out to her whenever they have challenges. She calls upon them to desist from politicking and embrace government programs which are aimed at transforming their lives such as Emyooga, Parish Development Model, Youth Lively Program, among others. Lukanga also appeals to the citizens to ensure a peaceful city, reminding them that instabilities stunt development and affect livelihoods regardless of political affiliations.
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