Enter Majid Batambuze, who condemned Kezaala Beswali to a bitter defeat- bitter in the sense that after it, Kezaala ( a staunch DP member) ran away from the Municipality into the open welcoming arms of President Yoweri Museveni, in return, he was handed a role as an ambassador.
Batambuze’s victory and happiness could have ended at celebrating the announcement of results, he later realised he was taking over an ailing system, Jinja Municipality was a patient staring at brain failure after all the other organs being declared mulfunctional.
One of his first statements months into office, Batambuze said; “I promised I would transform Jinja town, but the technical people have frustrated me.”
Batambuze went on and on to lament how he did not know the system he had inherited was as dead as vegetable.
When I was campaigning, I did not know most powers were entrusted with town clerks. Even when I give a directive, it cannot be implemented because as the political head, I am powerless. For instance, I cannot sign cheques. It can only be done by the town clerk,” he said in September 2017.
In his campaign trail, Batambuze had promised among other things; lighting up the town, improving garbage collection, improving the poor road network, among others which in any case are key for any municipality to be granted city status by the way- someone may need remind the Jinja MPs clamouring for city status.
Like a clearly written script from his predecessor, Batambuze quickly got scapegoat for his underperformance, he would soon start blaming all on NRM intrigue. “Those mafias within the party are working against me, fighting hard to see me arrested and fail. They are hatching a plan to bring me down.” (April 2018).
He could have been right meanwhile, because just a year into office (Jan 2017), Batambuze was looking at motion to have him censured by 17 councillors, including those he personally financed to their positions.
The councillors were led by former deputy mayor in Kezaala’s regime (George Izaale)-put one to two and you have answers. Batambuze’s cases according to Izaale and team were; Failure to light up the city, corruption, misuse of council property and general incompetence.
One would ask why Izaale as deputy mayor to Kezaala did not start his activism then, because it was during their regime that Jinja was dragged to its knees, not even a single light would be seen, not a single kilometre of tarmac remained but their calls for making Jinja a city were deafening.
Just to make matters worse, Izaale, and Kezaala had left office with a Shs1billion debt to Umeme, the town had taken years without lights.
The consequences of their actions were only written off recently (April 2018) when Batambuze commissioned solar lights to light Jinja and opted out of the umeme debt.
In an article with NewVision, dated March 10, 2016, residents lashed out at Kezaala whom they accused of achieving nothing in his term of office. They said that the major reasons they voted Kezaala out were; failure to control garbage collection, install lights, bad roads and selling their land.
Kezaala in reply would later say the roads were hard to do because there was no funding, remember a city must have a road network and ability to meet its costs!
And by the way Batambuze does not come with clean hands either, a police letter issued 19th July 2018 was calling for an investigation into allegations he was involved in a land grabbing case, although he later reported it was false.
Batambuze was also arrested for allegedly conning an investor of $160000 for Land in Nalufenya, he soon clarified he has no dealings regarding the matter and is a clean man. He would later claim he has never been arrested and that his enemies were witch hunting him.
After the days of David Wakudumira, Jinja had never seen anything close to efficiency. Today, the road from Amber court round about to Jinja town (Kampala road) is smooth, well lit and perfect, the long abandoned street from Jinja College round about via Firestone to Main street is being worked on.
New buildings are rising up so fast, although so much leaves to be done to obtain stability of this Jinja patient but even before the patient starts breathing without oxygen aid, certain people are bringing him big boiled potatoes to eat (clamouring for city). If you ask me, Jinja does not need to clamour for a city, they need to justify it first.