Uganda has a woman leader whose character and style of leadership (male or female) nobody has seen in a generation. She is the Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority and she is called Jennifer Semakula Musisi.
Appointed to be director of Kampala City by President Museveni, Musisi has taken on military generals and bigwigs claiming to be friends with the president and his brother, Salim Saleh, to the utter consternation and bewilderment of the entire country that had long resigned itself to their impunity.
How can she be so steely in the face of army generals, the president’s children, big name albeit shady “investors” who are being backed by the president’s kith and kin? The citizens of Kampala, and indeed the entire country, are shaking their heads in wonderment, and you sense that they don’t yet know what to make of it.
Has a president who has presided over the destruction of the country’s moral and ethical values finally found the resolve to reverse the gangrene? Or is this just mere politicking, with Jennifer Musisi being used by the president as a pawn in his scheme to gain the votes of Kampala City in 2016?
To understand why Jennifer Musisi’s take-no-prisoners approach to running Kampala city has astonished everyone, the following [edited] quotation from a friend (who returned to Uganda to live about 3 years ago) about the type of place Uganda is might help:
You have not met the average Ugandan! No one that lives in Europe or USA has met the average Ugandan. It has taken me 3 yrs to meet and to get to know this guy. You occasionally read about him in the news[papers] pouring acid on his ex, stealing billions of tax payers cash, forging land titles to steal his father’s property. Causing pain everywhere. I don’t know where Musisi came from. She is unlike any average Ugandan. She represents the false romantic view you develop in your mind about Uganda when you have been away too long. Moses Golola, P.S Kazinda, Tinyefuza – these are the real Uganda. And you don’t meet them in Texas (USA) or Peckham (UK). You meet them here when you are trying to buy land, when you apply for a passport, when you’re looking for car spare parts, in Mulago Hospital when you have a dying patient, at funerals and weddings when they stand up to speak.
My friend is absolutely correct. Uganda’s morals, values, standards, ethics have sunk so deeply into the mire that there seems no alternative to blending in.
I am sure I told you about the 15 people who moved on to my land on Entebbe Road and claimed they were squatters. They were egged on by the local village leader referred to as an LC1 who signed documents for them. It turns out that the broker (who got a commission on each deal) is related to the LC. All in all the two acres of land were apportioned off for something like 60m/= ($25,000) with the broker and LC getting 5-10%. Not a bad living, fraudulent though it was. That’s Uganda today.
Finally, recently, I managed to get a meeting together for the issue to be thrashed out. By this time the claimants had grown to 28, 10 of them having “bought” in the three months it took me to get the meeting together. On a 2-acre parcel of land. After a lot of yelling, threats to kill me and goodness knows what else, it was clear that I was right and the claimants had been led up shit creek. 15 of them slunk away. One had built slap bang in the most desirable part of the land so I have nicely told him to leave. He won’t so I am already planning to send in goons in the middle of the night to forcibly raze his structure. He has young children but … that isn’t going to worry me at all under the circumstances.
Does that sound to you like a person who has spent the best part of 25 years away from this country?
Just 2 years ago, I would have waited for the law to take its course. But the courts of law are so corrupted that the Chief Justice admits it openly. A small case like mine could take 15 years to resolve. So, even the lawyers (the honest ones) advise you to just take the matter into your own hands and … demolish. Then whoever wishes can sue you if they wish.
That’s the Uganda Yoweri Museveni has helped cement over the past 27 years; morally bankrupt, lawless, corrupt to the core at every level of government, indifferent to the sick or dying, accepting of road accidents that kill thousands a year, impervious to child molestation, inured to violence against men, women and children … a morass of thieving, spineless, pliable, writhing, degenerate politicians, government officials, local and foreign contractors creating such a stench of corruption that all the oil of Arabia can’t cleanse it away.
That is why we are all in a state of shock at Musisi’s steely, incorruptible, resolve. This country hasn’t known anyone like her in a generation. That brings us to speculate as to what it could all mean. Is it a change of heart in the man who has presided over the total disintegration of the entire country’s moral fabric or is it politics as usual, with Musisi just a pawn, a means to Museveni’s life-time ruling ambitions?
I think Museveni’s calculation is that If Musisi succeeds, he will take the credit for having rescued Kampala from the incompetent and rudderless leadership of her predecessors all of whom belonged to the opposition Democratic Party. Jennifer Musisi’s current opposition, and the presumptive alternative to her is a man called Erias Lukwago, the current mayor, who spends days and nights plotting how to wrest the initiative from her. But Lukwago is a totally inept politician who sounds far from literate, let alone scholarly. Jennifer Musisi routinely wipes the floor with him by simply being cool, calm, collected and not responding to his frothing. True to his character, Lukwago never fails to open his loud mouth, invariably revealing his limited political acumen.
Musisi has then set about demolishing illegal structures in the center of the city that everyone thought were inviolable since they are owned by government bigwigs. It has left her looking like a Colossus of Rhodes over Kampala. If she succeeds in bringing sanity to the bedlam that is Uganda’s capital city, it will be the final nail in the coffin of the opposition Democratic Party in the city – and that will suit Museveni just fine. That’s why he is willing to sacrifice his kin in the fight to win over the city. His relatives (rumors abound that they are the ones being fronted by all the shady investors carving up the city legally and otherwise) have nowhere else to go so he can let Jennifer Musisi take them on.
The rot that is Uganda has run so deep for so long that it is inconceivable that Museveni has finally had a change of heart and is now willing to eradicate it. The alternative then seems to be that Museveni has his eye on the city’s votes come 2016 (Kampala has never really had much love at the ballot box for Museveni and his NRM) and he might have found the perfect person to help deliver the city to him; Jennifer Musisi.