By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
Cabinet on Monday came out with a program of elevating some of our municipalities into cities.
According to Minister of Local Government Capt. Tom Butime, the first phase of the cities to start in 2020 and it will include, God willing, Arua, Jinja, Gulu, Fort Portral and Mbarara. The second one that will have Mbale, Hoima, Lira and Entebbe will be 2021 and 2022.
The third, which has not been much talked about, will have Soroti, Nakasongola, Moroto,, Masaka, Kabale and Wakiso.The Minister was quoted in New Vison as saying that Arua, Mbarara,Gulu, Mbale, Lira, Soroti and Masaka, Kabale and Wakiso will be regional cities. Then Jinja, Moroto, Hoima, Fort Portral, Nakasongola and Entebbe will be strategic due to their tourist attractions, concentration of industries and existence of minerals.
The minister said that some ministries, departments and agencies shall be relocated to those cities to decongest Kampala.The Minister said that the move is part of government’s plan to implement Vision 40 by addressing the current levels of rapid urbanization, which requires serious attention.
The move is overdue but in my view, ministries, departments and agencies should not just be relocated to any regional city for routine purposes or to appease the region and its people, but a city like Nakasongola, which shall be more strategically located in the center of the country, should be planned and developed as a future political capital, just like Dodoma in Tanzania, Abuja in Nigeria, Pretoria in South Africa are.
Thus relocating ministries, departments and agencies there will be justifiable.As for regional capitals, under 1995 Constitution as amended in 2005,districts are tagged under regions and are allowed to cooperate and form regional governments.
However districts under regions of Buganda,Busoga, Bunyoro, Acholi and Lango are deemed to have agreed to cooperate and form regional governments which were supposed to start operating on July 1st 2006.
Like how every district has, at least a town council as its capital, the regional capitals for regional governments were mentioned in the Constitution.
Mengo municipality for Buganda, Jinja Municipality for Busoga, Hoima Municipality for Bunyoro, Gulu Municipality for Acholi,and Lira Municipality for Lango. Other regions in mentioned in the constitution include Bukedi, Bugisu , Sebei, Teso, Ankole, Kigezi,Tooro, Rwenzori, West Nile, Madi and Karamoja.
Therefore in anticipation that, sooner or later, the Regional Governments Bill that was tabled in parliament in 2006, and has never been debated and passed, will be done so in the spirit of developing power to regions, as a way of enhancing decentralization of power to local governments, it will look queer when other regionS have cities as their capitals, and Buganda Regional has Mengo as a municipality.
Various attempts were made to curve out Lubaga Division from Kampala City to the then Mpigi District, in exchange for the then Kira SubCounty.
That was due to the fact that Kampala is not listed among Buganda districts, since it is the national capital.There was also an attempt to restore Mengo District. In colonial times, Buganda was divided into Mengo, Masaka and Mubende districts and after 1966 crisis, Mengo was divided into East Mengo and West Mengo, and from 1974,and Amin’s regime had Mengo District which was named Mpigi by UNLF Government in 1979.
In 2005, the then Lubaga South MP John Ken Lukyamuzi moved a motion on the floor of parliament that wanted to amend a government proposal, instead of restoring Mengo Municipality, Mengo District should be restored comprised Lubaga Division and the then Makindye Ssaabagabo Sub County now Municipality, but it was defeated. Now that Entebbe and Wakiso will be separate cities, both historical names; Entebbe, which was our political and administrative capital in colonial times, and Mengo, which was Buganda’s capital, should be retained as cities.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi, is a journalist and a
Assistant, at Government Citizen Interaction Center (GCIC) under the
Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. Atoll free line 900.