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Tensions Flare Over Entebbe Municipal Development Forum Elections :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Tensions Flare Over Entebbe Municipal Development Forum Elections

Ssemanda faced challenges as Ssebuliba, who identified himself as a “senior citizen, manufacturer, businessman, and youth,” accused the management of planning a snap election to fill the new MDF slots.
Principal Community Development Officer Dauda Ssemanda briefs stakeholders before the different sectors were asked to each choose a representative to the MDF council.
Jostling for slots on the new Entebbe Municipal Development Forum (MDF) took a new twist on Thursday as youthful stakeholders accused the Municipal Council management of aiding certain groups and individuals to push through their preferred candidates.

The event, which nearly turned chaotic, saw a group led by Daniel Abraham Ssebuliba disrupt proceedings midway. As a result, the elections of representatives for several interest groups were postponed to Tuesday at 2:00 pm “without fail.”

Principal Community Development Officer Dauda Ssemanda was in charge on behalf of Town Clerk Emmanuel Gacharo Mugisha, who was away on other duties.

Various interest groups dispersed to elect their representatives, but some returned with complaints, demanding postponement due to a lack of proper and effective communication about the meeting.

Ssemanda began the session by informing participants that the forum was purely advisory. He emphasized that participants should not expect financial gains from the exercise, as there were no salaries or allowances for sitting on the forum, only facilitation for the quarterly meetings.

However, Ssemanda faced challenges as Ssebuliba, who identified himself as a “senior citizen, manufacturer, businessman, and youth,” accused the management of planning a snap election to fill the new MDF slots. Ssemanda’s explanations that the day was only meant to provide a roadmap for the election of the MDF executive were ignored, as conspiracy theories and threats to mobilize the entire membership of the groups continued.

A heavy downpour disrupted the program, causing the meeting, initially meant to be held in the Municipal Council compound, to be moved to the council chambers. Ssebuliba and his group did not enter but continued monitoring events from outside.

By the end of the session, eight sectors had representatives declared elected, while elections for six sectors—markets and vendors, youth, financial sector, transport, artists, and manufacturing—were deferred to Tuesday.

Those declared elected included Gloria Bashemera for the Utilities sector, Constance Wamanga for the urban poor and slum dwellers, Osinya Benard for academia, Harriet Nantalima for women associations, Ssalongo Sserunjogi Geoffrey for cultural institutions, Henry Oketch for the media, Iga Godfrey for senior citizens andJustine Birungi for chronic patients

After announcing those elected, Ssemanda stated that the remaining groups had to present a representative each by the close of day on Tuesday. Council facilities would be available for those unable to organize on their own at 2:00 pm.

The MDF was an innovation under the first Urban Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) project funded by the World Bank. Members hold office for three years, after which fresh elections are held.

The MDF was envisaged to comprise seasoned technocrats and senior citizens capable of supporting and advising municipal technical staff on project matters.

The five-year USMID project, aimed at urban infrastructure improvement and development, began in 2014 and was renewed under USMID II for another five years. 

However, for municipalities in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (including Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso, and Mpigi districts), the USMID project is not being renewed and is being replaced by the GKMA Urban Development Programme, which runs under the President’s Office.

The new program, also funded by the World Bank, has a budget of up to $3 billion over fifteen years, with $608 million to be spent in the first five years on various projects including roads, markets, and greening. Entebbe Municipality is set to receive an initial UGX 17 billion in the first year and UGX 92 billion over the first five years, sparking interest among stakeholders, including the MDF, for potential gains.

Though officially non-pecuniary, the MDF offers a prestigious profile for individuals who join, with some believing there are tangible but undeclared benefits.