Big Tasks Await New KCCA Legal Director

The high legal costs and the absence of law enforcement mechanisms in the City are top on the agenda of Frank Rusa Nyakaana, the new Director of Legal Affairs at Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA.

Rusa replaced Caleb Mugisha who has been serving in an acting capacity since 2019, when the substantial Director, Charles Ouma resigned.

Rusa was recruited through the Public Service Commission following an April 2022 presidential directive to KCCA to fill all the critical vacant positions for better service delivery.

He joins at a time when the authority is choking on exorbitant legal bills resulting from court awards, compensations, and garnishee orders.

In the 2018 KCCA Public Account Committee report, the authority’s legal bill was over 49.7 billion shillings, 27 billion of which resulted from consent judgments that were a subject of debate with Authority employees accused of conniving with litigants to fleece KCCA.

Rusa says he will provide good legal advice to save KCCA from the trouble which would lead to detrimental legal battles.

But Rusa also notes that the high legal costs are due to the insufficient funds available to clear bills on time hence accumulating in interest, and because they cannot deliver on some of the works for which they are penalized in court. For instance, KCCA has previously been ordered to compensate people who have died in floods and those who have been injured due to the poor drainage system.

Rusa also plans to focus on streamlining enforcement activities which have been a center for discussion in the City. KCCA has an enforcement team of over 100 officers known to use brutal force while enforcing order in the City.

The 2017 incident in which a street vendor identified as Olivia Basemera died after falling in Nakivubo channel while desperately fleeing enforcement officers still lingers in the minds of many.

In 2020, the court awarded Steven Olango 20 million Shillings in compensation after suing KCCA following his brutal arrest by law enforcement officers during an operation against street vendors in Ntinda.

The enforcement officers are also known for confiscating merchandise that they never return to the traders.

KCCA has no law to guide the operation of law enforcement officers. There are no formal recruitment and training procedures, no field guidelines during operation, and penalties for misconduct. An attempt to get a law has lasted more than three years with no conclusion.

Rusa says that he shall work with the necessary leaders at KCCA to institute laws and guidelines for law enforcement in the City. He says that while law enforcement is critical to ensure compliance, it should be done in an orderly manner with a human rights approach.

Another challenge KCCA has faced over the times is the delay by the Attorney General’s office to ratify laws passed by the Council. For Instance, the KCCA Market bill which was passed in 2019 took more than a year before it was returned to KCCA with comments.

Eventually, it could not be completed until a new council came in place in 2021, and now has to be re-tabled. Rusa acknowledges the need to rectify this, promising to work with the Executive Director, the Lord Mayor’s office, and the Attorney General’s Chambers to ensure a quick but effective law-making process void of unnecessary delays.

However, another challenge awaiting Rusa is working with both the Lord Mayor and Executive Director’s office to deliver. The relationship between political and technical leaders is characterized by tension, mistrust, and suspicion.

The Lord Mayor and councilors see the technical staff led by the Executive Director as sabotaging their work by denying them reports from respective KCCA Directorates on which they have to base to follow up on decisions taken and hold KCCA accountable.

The council has further complained of the failure of the KCCA technical wing to offer advice on issues before the council, later on, implements resolutions of the council.

A recent example is when the council resolved that Allen, Ssebana Kizito and Kafumbe Mukasa roads be free for street vending but city managers still forced vendors off.

Rusa says that he shall use his experience working with the IPOD to sanitize the relationships at KCCA such that both technical and political leaders effectively communicate and cooperate in executing their respective mandates for the good of the city.

Dorothy Kisaka, the Executive Director of KCCA while welcoming Rusa to the Authority, said that he brings a rich history of working with diverse political players to the authority.

Until his appointment at KCCA, in 2018, Rusa has been the Country Director of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and the Executive Secretary of the Interparty Organization for Dialogue, a dialogue body uniting five political parties with representation in Parliament.

He also previously served in the Legal Department of the Electoral Commission.

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