In December 2020, a report titled, Prudent Public Finance Management for Greater Accountable Governance revealed that the utilisation of Covid-19 funds during the first lockdown was marred with gross irregularities, poor planning and dubious contract signings.
This prompted different political parties and organisations to demand for accountability of Covid-19 funds and donations that were contributed to help the country recover from the pandemic.
In an interview with The Nile Post, Doreen Nyanjura, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Kampala said when Uganda is in crisis, ministers and other government officials use the chance to steal and loot the country’s resources which would have helped the common people.
How is the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) responding to the Covid-19 crisis?
I would like to emphasise that KCCA is not an island. KCCA runs the city on behalf of the central government. So if you have a government which is dysfunctional, there is now way things in the City Hall can function. I give you an example, as political leaders at KCCA, we sat and said let us reactivate the 800 vaccination centres that we have in Kampala. These vaccination centres include schools, churches, polling stations, mosques, all would be a way to bring vaccination services closer to our people.
We also suggested that that testing should be done free of charge. If you do an analysis, you will find that it’s the same group of people that are testing, the MPs, you find it’s the ministers and you find it’s those that are going to meet Mr. Museveni that are doing the testing, so we also suggested that there should be free testing. As political leaders that understand the people we represent, we also made a proposal that the relief for our residents should be Shs 6,000 daily but you know what came out from the Ministry of Gender. They suggested Shs 100,000 per household. We have a government that doesn’t care, we have a government that doesn’t treat its citizens as a priority.
How best would you want the government to deal with Covid-19 in the country?
My advice first of all to the government might be belated because if I was in a position, say at a national level, I wouldn’t have sent the country into a lockdown before putting into consideration the social needs of the people well knowing that Uganda is a third world country, well knowing that unemployment rate in Uganda is very high and well knowing that the biggest percentage of those that work depend on hand to mouth.
I believe it is not too late, there is still some advice that this government can take up. Covid-19 should be treated as a priority. We should not just casually talk about Covid-19 and brag how even first world countries have been hit by the pandemic.
Over the years, there have been unending wrangles at the authority between the politicians and the technocrats. How do you plan to handle that?
I can say currently under the new executive director, we have actually not had any serious disagreement with her. Our disagreement largely stemmed from the former Minister of Kampala Betty Among who was fighting us. So for now the conflicts have been between the political wings. The political wings elected by the people and the political wing appointed by Mr. Museveni. These ministers that are appointed by Mr. Museveni, many of them come when they are willing to work, by midway they are reminded how they are not supposed to work for the people of Kampala but how they are supposed to weaken the Lord Mayor who is in the opposition.
How are you going to effectively work with the council that is dominated by National Unity Platform (NUP) members because we expect friction at some point?
I think so far we have started on a good note but all of us who belong to Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) supported the National Unity Platform flag bearer for speaker because she had an NRM opponent. For us this was a battle between someone representing those that are exploited and someone representing the exploiters and we all really supported someone who was represents the common people.
When it came to my appointment, I was approved a hundred percent by all of them. For now we understand that we all belong to the change seeking forces. We are all here to serve the people of Kampala and for me that should be the spirit going forward. Personally, I don’t expect any fights if we are talking about people who are fighting for change, people who are interested in seeing developments. I don’t expect any friction.
There have been several attempts by the opposition to remove President Museveni from power but all strategies seem to have failed. Don’t you think that the opposition has completely failed to unite for the common goal?
I don’t think the opposition has failed to unite, there are incidents where the opposition has spoken with one voice, and for example when they wanted to sell off Mabira forest, we all spoke with one voice as the opposition. When they wanted to amend the Constitution, we all spoke with one voice as the opposition .I think the only challenge comes during the elections. For me I think this is really understandable because they belong to different political organisations. We have different ideologies, we have different objectives as political parties. It is not true that as the opposition we have failed to unite.
Museveni has started poaching prominent opposition leaders like Joyce Ssebugwawo. Some analysts believe that the move shows the extent to which the regime has infiltrated the opposition.
Is Joyce Ssebugwawo, the strongest member of FDC that has been fetched? Was she stronger than Beti Kamya? I believe Beti Kamya was stronger than her and we have seen prominent FDC members and even people from other opposition political parties joining the regime.
For me Ssebugwawo leaving the party does not mean that FDC that has lost, it’s not the struggle that has lost. You see, these people forget that FDC is what makes them strong. Beti Kamya used to be strong when she was in FDC, what happened to her when she joined the NRM? For me I am not bothered.
You recently made a disturbing statement that your party is aware of the opposition leaders who meet President Museveni at night. Who are these people?
You will get to know them, just be patient.
Should we expect you to take a bigger step in your political career, perhaps even pursuing a bigger office in the coming years?
My plan is to serve Uganda and to serve them with all. My mission is really to serve others with or without a position because even before I became a councillor, I was a renowned leader without any title. I was an activist and I used to fight for change. For me, this issue of contesting to become a Member of Parliament, for is secondary. I cannot be thinking about that at a time when the country is in a crisis. So whether I am an MP, whether I am a deputy Lord Mayor or not, my calling is to make sure that I provide leadership, to make sure that I speak for those without voice.
Do you have some of the achievements that you have registered so far as the deputy Lord Mayor?
Of course my achievements are not that many but I think I will achieve more in this term in office because I was appointed at a time when we had little time remaining ahead of the general election. So I really didn’t have time to do all that I would have loved to do.
However, I have an agenda, which is to focus on women first of all like I have said. I am a women representative, I am a women activist, and I am a gender scholar. During my tenure in office, I will make sure that no woman is left behind in all circumstances. I will work around the clock to ensure that women’s political, social and economic rights are not only observed but also respected. I have always been a vice for women.