For what it’s worth, I think outgoing KCCA Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi did a great job transforming Kampala City. Those of you who inhabited Kampala 7 years and 8 months ago when she took office can certainly see the difference.
I walked down from National Theatre on Thursday where I was watching fine comedy to Centenary Park where I took a taxi to my humble rental in Mukono and the streets were lit as Noon. Her tenure reminds me of President Museveni’s first 10 years in office.
A reformist of epic proportions, Musisi like Museveni implemented policies that not many people loved. They angered several popular constituencies and cost them a lot in public image rating only to be vindicated a few years later. This is what great leadership calls for.
Unlike Museveni though, Musisi has stuck to her guns, she has suppressed popular emotions and in her own way, made a mark on the city we call home. But her boss/blesser has turned out to be the complete opposite. His actions are now directed by people’s emotions than rationale or research.
He has grown so reactionary to political sentiments that he can now be easily cornered to make a popular decision for votes as opposed to a right, well-informed, rational decision. I wouldn’t be surprised if Musisi’s resignation had a thing to do with her blesser’s claims that she ruined his non-existent support in Kampala courtesy of her tough decisions.
Musisi is a case of bad politics happening to good people. Museveni’s U-turn on the tuk-tuk vs regular boda-boda, stance on vendors, taxi drivers and the political bigwigs that have erected monster structures in gazetted road, railway reserves and wetlands confirmed to Musisi that the president’s loyalty lied not in the having a clean, homely and well-organised city but rather in getting better votes in the election than the oppositions who have ruled Kampala and Wakiso districts for years.
By the time of her resignation, Musisi’s approval rating had improved. Unlike her boss, she did not wait to do 40 years as KCCA boss to realise that it was time to move on. And even when a lot of people wanted her to stay, Musisi proved that sometimes one needs to remain firm on a personal decision as opposed to being a slave of the majority.
She had the courage to leave the chair that earned her Shs44m a month – something the president has been unable to do for decades mostly because of the power that has enslaved him.
We have to credit Musisi for being able to realise that; a) that leaving at a time when your achievements are still extremely vivid is better than doing the long haul and messing up everything and b) trusting that in her 7 and a half years, she had developed enough technical competencies among her staff to carry her work forward in her absence – something the President cannot brag about.