On Monday May 20th 2019, during the weekly Cabinet Meeting at the State House in Entebbe, the Cabinet of Uganda approved the creation of 15 new cities whose implementation would be in phases over the next three years.
Immediately, the newly-approved cities are 9 and include Arua, Fort Portal, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara, Mbale, Hoima, Entebbe, and Lira. Among these is Jinja City which is one of the first 5 cities that will become operational on July 1st 2019 for mainly its industrial strategic positioning.
Unlike Kampala City which is now governed under the Kampala Capital City Authority Act of 2010, the new cities will be governed by the Local Government Act of 2015. This has left a couple of questions unanswered, and dampened the hopes of some who were looking forward to having an unelected top city leadership like the Kampala Capital City Authority Executive Director, popularized by Jennifer Semakula Musisi (April 15th 2011 – December 15th 2018) and currently held by Eng. Andrew Kitaka Mubiru; the new cities are not authorities.
Who then will be the interim Jinja City Mayor next year, a year before the elections that will present Jinja City with it’s first City Mayor?
Jinja City was elevated from Jinja Municipality and one of the preconditions to attain city status which Jinja Municipality had failed on is to have a population of 500,000 inhabitants. As thus, a March 2019 meeting in Kampala chaired by Minister of Local Government Tom Butime, and Jinja District and Municipality leaders unanimously agreed to expand the boundaries of the municipality which includes Jinja Central Division, Walukuba/Masese Division, and Mpumudde/Kimaka Division, to include Bugembe Town Council, Mafubira, and Budondo Sub-counties, giving Jinja City a population of 250,000 inhabitants (still below the required population) and a land area of an estimated 150 square kilometers.
Looking at the facts, it is important to note that the Jinja Municipality Mayor was given a 5-years contract to head Jinja Municipality which comprises Jinja Central Division, Walukuba-Masese Division, and Mpumudde-Kimaka Division. With the expanded boundaries, his jurisdiction does not suffice, an element that technically knocks him off the interim mayoral race but… leaves him in the race again because it is his municipality that was elevated.
With the new expanded boundaries, there are two categories of people who also join the race; the Jinja District LC5 Chairman Titus Kisambira, and the Jinja District Councilors representing Jinja Central Division, Walukuba-Masese Division, Mpumudde-Kimaka Division, Bugembe Town Council, Mafubira Sub-county, and Budondo Sub-county.
In essence, the only eligible people for the interim mayoral race are Majid Batambuze (Jinja Municipality Mayor), Titus Kisambira (Jinja District LC5 Chairman), Florence Asio (Jinja West Constituency), Richard Mbazira (Walukuba/Masese Division), Mohammad Mbentyo (Jinja Central Division), Jennifer Kongo (Jinja East Constituency), Saidi Maka (Mpumudde-Kimaka Division), David Isabirye Aga (Bugembe Town Council), Juliet Mutesi (Bugembe Town Council), Rose Mukama (Mafubira Sub-county), Fred
However, not all will be interested in the seat but at least we now know who is and who isn’t eligible to contest for the Jinja City interim mayoral seat come next year. The funniest dynamic is that if Majid Batambuze contests in the electoral college and loses, he goes back to complete his JMC Mayoral term however if Titus Kisambira contests and loses, he cannot go back to complete his term as Jinja District LC5 Chairman. There are all the cards laid out for you.
The largely-welcomed move to elevate municipalities to cities is, according to the commissioner in-charge of Urban Planning, Justin Niwagaba, part of the Vision 20140 recommendation to decongest Kampala.