KAMPALA – There is growing frustration among the government’s top leadership over the leadership disaster at the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), with top decision-makers now coming to a grim realization that Mrs. Dorothy Kasega Kisaka isn’t the right person for the job.
KCCA is the legal entity, established by the Ugandan Parliament that is responsible for the operations of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The authority is headed by an executive director. Mrs. Kisaka, who is at the helm of the city was appointed in July 2020.
A top official who sits at the high table of NRM politics told UG Standard on the weekend that the leadership catastrophe at KCCA has given Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago an upper hand and in the process, giving President Museveni “absolutely no chance of reclaiming Kampala”.
“They working for the opposition, that’s it for sure, when you see him [Lord Mayor] quiet, it means he benefits from the mess they have created their” the top official said, adding that “if the devil ignores you, you’re working for it.”
SACCOs and contracts predicament
Last week, scores of KCCA casual workers took to the street and marched to City Hall to demonstrate over alleged unpaid salaries and unremitted social security contributions.
The striking workers claimed they had not been paid (UGX150000 per month) for the last three months.
They also spoke of three-year-long unremitted National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contributions.
They also protested against the allocation of their tender to Seven Hills and the Ghetto Youth, a situation that they fear would leave many of them unemployed.
KCCA casual workers clean city roads and toilets, collect and sort garbage, desilt roadside drainage channels, and plant, and prune trees, among other tasks.
Among the strikers was Sarah Asiimwe, who has been sweeping Ismail Road in the central division for the last three years. She claimed that KCCA has been deducting NSSF money from her salary, but without remitting her 10% contribution to her NSSF account.
Minsa Kabanda, the KCCA and Metropolitan Affairs minister, met with the striking workers at City Hall and did just enough to calm them down with assurance.
“In a week’s time, starting from today, the authority [KCCA] shall clear your outstanding salaries and shall follow up on unclaimed NSSF remittances to the Government,” she said.
The casual workers also said that there were equally threatened because their contracts were not renewed and that the KCCA administration had started awarding contracts to new cleaners, some of them are staunch Museveni opponents.
Jennifer Ssali, the chairperson of the Makindye division of Community Savings and Credit Co-operative Organization (SACCO), says the workers were paid directly through the SACCO, which reportedly changed with the introduction of the Seven Hills Company.
Josephine Kiiza who works as a toilet cleaner at the KCCA public toilet in Namuwongo said that for the last 10 years, she has been receiving her money, but was shocked to check her account for the last three months and not find her salary deposited.
“I think there is something big President Yoweri Museveni should investigate at KCCA because my money for NSSF has never been paid,” she said.
“I do not want to lose my job because it is my life.”
As this happened, the top government official said Mr. Kisaka only took a backseat, giving the much sought-after space to enjoy political mileage including an opportunity to blackmail the government.
“While this happened, she didn’t show her face anywhere yet this is where she needed to show leadership but instead, [she] gave away the opportunity to the opposition to benefit from the crisis. She has simply donated to the city to [Mr.] Lukwago and that’s unacceptable. We’re not comfortable with that and the president must urgently call her out,” the official said.
“It is only Kampala Minister Hajjati Minsa who came in to restore the confidence of the causal workers, as you know, the majority know are single mothers, orphans, and very disadvantaged people.”
Incompetence, slow decision making
The top official said the Kampala Minister, Hajjati Minsa can’t deliver the city due to leadership struggles at the help.
“By terminating contracts of the causal workers for example, who have for long been organized under SACCO schemes, Mrs. Kisaka is directly fighting government because these SACCOs would have been an entry point for Parish Development Model in Kampala.”
Lukwago exploits gaps
Due to leadership gaps, the KCCA casual workers marched to Lukwago’s City Hall for rescue, where he asked them to calm down, also explaining that he would ensure that KCCA and government recall the tender from Seven Hills to save the thousands of vulnerable Ugandans who have been earning a living from the service.
“We intend to sit down with the executive director to work out modalities of ensuring that casual workers are treated fairly so that they get their pay and also retain their contracts,” he said.
Lukwago also added that under his guidance, the KCCA council had summoned a special sitting to harmonize with the office of the executive director to ensure that casuals are paid and their NSSF money remitted.
Parliament faults Kisaka
Parliament’s Committee on Public Accounts – Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) has since put Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)’s technical team to task over delayed payment of causal workers who have gone for months without pay.
Led by KCCA Executive Director, Dorothy Kisaka, the technical team was also queried over non-remittance of statutory payments like National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contribution for workers and pay as you earn.
MPs were also not happy with KCCA’s perennial governance quarrels pitting the Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago against the authority’s technical wing, paralyzing progress in the city.
These concerns were noted by the Auditor General in the report for Financial Year 2021/22.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi asked Kisaka to make haste in righting the payments anomaly.
“The pay is little and then it also comes late; let us avoid double trouble and pay those workers on time. Why would you hire 2000 workers when you know you cannot remunerate them,” he said.
Kisaka was questioned by Hon. Muwada Nkunyingi, the Kyaddondo East MP over claims by Lord Mayor Lukwago that she undermines the political leadership in violation of the Kampala Capital City Authority (Amendment) Act 2019.
She defended herself against the accusations.
“We facilitate the review of the budget proposals [by the Executive Committee]; I am not a member of council so I work through the City Executive Committee headed by the Lord Mayor; that is something that we consistently perform,” she said.
Since 2017, all the KCCA casual workers have been organized into divisional SACCOS: Central division, Kawempe, Rubaga, Nakawa, and Makindye, with a current membership of over 3,500 workers.
Central has 905, Makindye 824, Rubaga 507, Nakawa 710, and Kawempe 623 – all totaling 3,569 casual workers.
In 2020, the SACCOS were offered 18 months contracts to provide cleaning services under the reservation scheme.
Their contracts expired on September 15, 2021. Since then, all the casual workers were taken up by KCCA to date.