By Mike Ssegawa
The proposal to expand Kampala’s jurisdiction to Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi has generated a lot of debate largely due to the contradictions in its premise. Kampala Minister Betty Kamya has been busy working on the master plan which would merge the four districts into another Authority, saying the districts neighbouring Kampala will enjoy development programs like Kampala if put under one umbrella.
This argument begs the question why our government has to first merge the districts before money they are funded? What is the rationale behind the new metropolitan?
The biggest problem suffered by the over fragmented districts is funding. The money the central government shares with the local governments cannot do much. For example, it is not uncommon for a district to allocate sh2 million for environmental programs in the entire district, which leaves supervising protection and conservation of the environment difficult and in effect, trees are cut and no one plants young ones.
These districts also cannot raise money locally as there are little activities to tax. The biggest cash cow is Kampala and its neighbouring districts where 80% of productive economic activities take place. But most of the money raised from, for example Kampala, end up in the central government since the KCC authority was created.
It has emerged that the Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) wants a bigger docket which she calls Metropolitan Kampala. She actually says cabinet passed that new docket. But in effect, the central government control of districts surrounding has selfish undertones.
More so – Whereas Kampala is run as an authority, Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi are local governments supervised by the ministry of local government. There is no constitutional provision that has ironed out these contradictions, and this argument has been central in Betty Nambooze’s argument who has emerged as a strong challenger for the Metropolitan Kampala proposal.
The idea of funding and planning better the development of the principalities surrounding Kampala is actually laudable. Most people working or frequenting Kampala are from these neighboring districts and therefore a development plan encompassing these areas is itself good. The problem however is – does it require this government to first tag the name Kampala before it puts its money?
There is an oversight on Minister Kamya’s part, including the thinking that development should be synonymous with the name Kampala.
This morning on NBS, Kamya met Mukono Municipality legislator Betty Nambooze on NBS television. The show blazed. The MP argues that before a new authority is formed, the minister should have realized that there are constitutional issues to first be addressed, including the status of Kampala in Uganda.
I also think that if what makes Kampala special is its budget, then, why are districts neighbouring Kampala not be given bigger budgets to work on plans that make lives better for the residents and people who work in those districts, better? What is in the name?
Truth be told, the entire Uganda feeds Kampala with people, goods, money, etc. Yet, the entire Uganda needs the development associated with Kampala. Now, should we imagine that Uganda as a whole should be renamed Kampala, and be run as an authority, to benefit from better planning and tap into the hyped development?
Mukono, Mpigi, and Wakiso can remain what they are, but due to their proximity to Kampala, they should be offered more funding to provide the services the government envisions the people in those areas should enjoy.