Uganda has now jumped onto the political band wagon regarding the death of a little two year old boy at the KCCA parking lot. However the challenges facing KCCA and the Central region as a whole are much bigger and cannot be dealt with by a short wave of heated political exchange. I will therefore refuse to join the band wagon and prematurely get involved in the political wave but rather use this opportunity to raise a major flaw in the KCCA pro/regressive approach.
KCCA with it’s much publicized agenda, has been unable to win over the public due to a superficial development strategy.On the surface the notion that Kampala could become a cleaner well planned City is enticing, but in reality the impact of the draft, speedy and heavy handed approach has never been successful in any economy.
How the UK’s Iron Lady (Margaret Thatcher) also got it wrong
To draw reference from the Conservative regime under Margaret Thatcher, the speed with which her government introduced reforms from the public service sector to industry lead to a recession, the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and the devastation of an entire generation in the mining communities. It is a well known fact that she did indeed carry out unpopular but much needed reform especially if the UK was to move into a more capitalistic economy that would make it more favourable for future business and set London as one of the top financial capitals. The rate at which the change occurred and the lack of appropriate and meaningful safeguards is what unfortunately defines her legacy in most parts of Northern England. The industrial sector mainly targeted by the Thatcher regime comprised of uneducated casual labourers, but with the failure of the government to introduce re-skilling programs and the pace at which the industrial sector was collapsing (directly as a result of her aggressive policy towards Unions) created welfare dependent communities and a sluggish Northern economy that has grappled the UK government to reform to this date.
Individuals are the most valuable asset!
The Americans however took a much more progressive approach. After World War II, America was able to avoid a crisis that had occurred after the end of the first world war by introducing the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of (1944) commonly known as the GI Bill. The law set in motion a regime of benefits that included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start business, payments for tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education and much more. The move to re-skill the veterans was essential in the emergence of the American middle class and the rise in skilled personnel that has proved beneficial to the thriving of the American economy to this day. More significantly the skilled workforce became a massive consumer class essential to the national enterprises and local businesses in America and responsible for the success of companies such as Ford and the massive real estate boom. On the reverse, the veterans of colour that were not offered the same opportunity were significantly disadvantaged and were unable to compete with their counters setting them back significantly on the social, economic and academic scale.
This in a sense illustrates the necessity of investing in individuals; shifting focus towards developing individual’s skills for long term meaningful growth.
What can Musisi Learn from her fellow Iron lady’s (Thatcher) Mistakes?
Speedy reform that targets a deprived sector is never successful without the necessary programs to empower and re-skill the sector that is going to be significantly affected. The KCCA budget for the 2014/2015 Financial Year saw an allocation of only UGX 1.9 billion to Social Development.
The KCCA budget allocation breakdown..
A closer look at the budget shows a lot of good programs that could be better advertised and enhanced to target a much larger population. The Small Scale Enterprise Development that has facilitated just under 2000 youth, the Employment Services Bureau 50, NAADS about 1000, Urban Tourism Development program and the new Kyanja Agriculture Resource Centre just about 75. There are two important issues with this approach, first it targets a small population secondly it mainly focuses on the youth and ignores a large part of the sector that is in need of institutional investment – the young adults!
For an organisation that is trying to be at the forefront of the major cities in the world, forcefully enforcing laws that will leave a significant part of the population destitute without carrying out a significant investment in career rehabilitation is the first point of failure.
For the landless and propertyless majority living in the slums and low cost housing, career rehabilitation is important. An employment resource centre should be a priority with a main focus on those that have been left destitute. Madina Namutebi (a street vendor arrested for selling bananas to feed her two children) clearly portrays what is flawed with the KCCA strategy. Not only is it heavy handed, it is premature for the current economic plight of majority of the people living in kampala. If KCCA is to rebuttal this very assumption to the population that they are lawfully displacing then they need to set up an employment resource centre that can prove to the citizens that there are alternative ways in which one can carry out their vending affairs, small scale businesses lawfully and profitably. Without this then unfortunately people will continue to risk being caught and continue to participate in this line of work.
KCCA and the government should partner in providing a massive investment in basic “career retraining” “entrepreneurial workshops” “employment advice” and a cross migration campaign. The decentralisation of the Ugandan economy would be key in the decongestion of Kampala, and a partnership with the regional economies with a goal of re-distributing this skilled workforce would be beneficial to the citizens.
Individuals are a vital asset and their developmental prospects should be at the forefront of the KCCA agenda more so than potholes. For beginners a lack of real investment in the human workforce and poor governance is what has created the current mess.
What KCCA has unfortunately been perceived to do is issue with efficiency eviction notices, demolitions and destroy livelihoods. The issue here is not the fact that they are enforcing already existing laws, which is legally within their right, but they are losing in the most significant Court that is the Court of Public Perception and Morality.
Secondly the strategy is significantly premature as it cannot be successful without pushing the exodus of people into alternative areas of honest employment. Many will argue that this is an unskilled workforce but I beg to differ as I have met a number of graduates vending, we too know of individuals now in prominent positions that subsidized their tuition from street vending. The irony therefore is that these very same people now perceiving themselves to belong to an elite class will deny others better alternatives.
It should therefore not be a shock to KCCA when individuals do not wholeheartedly embrace the dream for clean streets, parks and cable cars. It’s plain and simple the KCCA strategy is catering to a distant objective and providing a superficial dream that only the few elites can enjoy. Everyone will point to the benefits of improved infrastructure which are absolutely warranted but we have to be careful as these are not immediate, what is immediate however is the rate at which the KCCA strategy is leading to even higher levels of unemployment in the central region.
Well if there is anything to learn from the challenges the institution has faced with enforcing this current approach, an employment and re-skilling strategy would be a much better agenda. For the majority rather than walking the dusty streets of Kampala looking for work now they will be walking through the “fountains” with no real prospects. Same story different streets.