Madam Jennifer Ssemakula Musisi, Executive Director
|From Left: Charles Ouma, KCCA's Deputy Director for Legal Affairs;
Swithin Munyantwali, Executive Director, African Centre for Legal
Excellence; Kim Phan, ILI Executive Director; Madam Jennifer Musisi;
Her Excellecy, Ambassador Oliver Wonekha; Prof. Don Wallace,
ILI Chairman; Innocent Silver, KCCA; and Uganda Embassy Deputy
Chief of Mission, Alfred Nnam
By: Stephanie Yongzhe Wang June 21, 2013
Madam Jennifer Ssemakula Musisi, Executive Director of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), discussed her recent work in reforming Uganda's capital city of Kampala at a symposium co-sponsored by the International Law Institute and its Uganda affiliate, the African Centre for Legal Excellence (ACLE). The symposium was held at ILI's offices in Washington, DC.
The KCCA is the governing body of the Capital City. It has been responsible for initiating and formulating governance policies and service delivery standards, and monitoring the general administration of the City on behalf of the central government since 2010. Comprised of 344 new professional and qualified staff headed by the Executive Director, the KCCA started the reform with streamlining internal management processes for revenue management, recruitment, and public accountability. "A vibrant, attractive, and sustainable city is the vision," declared Madam Musisi, "and our mission is to deliver quality services in the City."
Prior to her role as KCCA Executive Director Madam Musisi began her career as State Attorney with the Uganda Directorate of Public Prosecutions in the late 1980s. In 1999, she began working at the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). Madam Musisi is credited with co-authoring the administrative changes which in 2005 culminated in wide reaching URA reforms, in an attempt to rid the agency of corruption. Ms. Musisi rose to the rank of Commissioner of Legal and Board Affairs at URA. Following the expiration of her contract at URA, she retired from the agency in 2010. In April 2011, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appointed Jennifer to be the first Executive Director of the newly-created KCCA.
Since the appointment in 2011, Madam Musisi has experienced a life full of drama as a resolute reform leader in Uganda. In her speech, Madam Musisi specified the hardships in setting up a brand-new governing institution in Kampala from inception, and the troubles associated with discovering 151 bank accounts left by the former KCC and reduced them to 8. According to Madam Musisi, collecting revenues was not easy especially in countries like Uganda, where financial management systems had broken down and no online financial system had been established yet.
There were, of course, inevitable difficulties in fundamental reform of a city, including rising political tensions due to the change of power structures in the city. This created many political and operational obstacles to the reform process in Kampala. Ignoring countless death threats from time to time, Madam Musisi continues to work long and exhaustive days to keep the new institution and the reform policies functioning well. "There is so much to do," said Jennifer. Nevertheless her adamant determination of restructuring the city has never been influenced. Jennifer's unrelenting focus on installing good and transparent governance, ensuring quality services for citizens of Kampala, and doing so in a non-political manner, while also managing so many obstacles and threats have earned Madam Musisi the moniker as the "Iron Lady of Uganda".
Her efforts have begun to pay off. Madam Musisi happily shared the results that revenue collections increased 100% in the year 2012. Outstanding progress has been also achieved in: road and drainage construction, garbage collection, updating health center and school infrastructures, increasing green spaces, and developing markets and commercial centers.
Ms. Musisi cautioned however that challenges remain in Kampala which include; insufficient funds, misinterpretation of the KCCA Act, politicization of projects, under-staffing within the KCCA, rebuilding the attitudes of the residents in city leadership, and low capacity of private sector to deliver on contracts.
Madam Musisi strongly emphasized the need for international investment and technology to help develop infrastructure and human resource projects in Kampala. Knowledge and technology transfer programs, short-term volunteer placements in engineering, physical planning, education, health, water and sanitation, as well as support to youth and women's programs would be the potential international partnership opportunities highly appreciated by the City.
Present during the symposium were; Ugandan Ambassador to the United States Her Excellency, Ambassador Oliver Wonekha; Deputy Chief of Mission Ugandan Embassy to the US, Alfred Nnam; KCCA's Deputy Director for Legal Affairs, Charles Ouma; senior officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Agriculture. Representatives from the American Bar Association, directors at the ILI, and other legal professionals from DC were also present.
Chairman of the ILI Professor Don Wallace Jr., Executive Director of the ILI Kim Phan, and Executive Director and Co-Founder of the ILI Uganda (African Centre for Legal Excellence) Swithin Munyantwali jointly hosted the symposium.
The symposium happened to fall on Madam Musisi's birthday. As such the symposium was capped off by a spontaneous birthday song sung by all the attendees in good wishes for Jennifer's birthday. In replying to a question of what would be her special birthday wish, Madam Musisi re-emphasized the current entrenched political system in Uganda and wished that reform disagreements and political self-interest could be put aside to focus on promoting and delivering greater benefits to the people of Kampala and throughout Uganda.