Friday, 14 February 2014

Face to face with Jennifer Musisi

My journey to City Hall yesterday (February 13) started with a phone call at 9.25am: Is this William Odinga? I am personal assistant to the Executive Director (ED) KCCA, said a sweet female voice the other
KCCA ED Jennifer Musisi
side of the line.

Jennifer Musisi, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) ED had scheduled to meet me at 11.00am and the caller wondered whether I could make it. I was in Wandegeya heading north of Kampala to Matuga but immediately decided to turn back to my office at the National Theatre, about 300 metres from City Hall, the home of KCCA.

As I endured the morning traffic jam, exhaust fumes and reflections of sunlight off white cars, I kept wondering how this meeting would go. This is a woman who is loved and hated probably in equal measure.  I had only seen her picture in newspapers and on television, now I was going to see her physically, and hear her voice raw. 

Back in my office, I reflected further on the issue we had to discuss. Then my mind wandered back a couple of years when I founded the Jennifer Musisi Forum on facebook. She probably had been too busy to ever know that such a forum existed. May be it is because people are getting used to her methods of work that the forum is not very active any more, I thought.  

Back then, she had chased self exiled General David Sejusa from a KCCA house he was occupying illegally. She had demolished a structure of President Museveni’s brother because it was in a road reserve. She also had demolished illegal structures in Centenary Park and not only angered a Kampala city division chief, Godfrey Nyakana, his wife who owned the structures, but also Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde. It was because of this courage to fight impunity that some of us supported her. Others chose to abuse, cry or curse her. Now I was going to meet her, something which had never occurred to me until a few weeks ago.

But there was something different about this woman, I though. I only sent her an email at the end of the other week requesting to meet her if possible last week. She responded almost immediately that she would not be available in the past week but would see to that in this one. On Wednesday I sent her a reminder and what followed was the morning phone call yesterday.

By 10 minutes to 11.00am I was at the KCCA gate. To get to her office I had to go through three check points and finally I was at her reception. Everything worked swiftly and within no time I was being called from the lobby.

On this occasion my camera and telephone had to remain at the reception, I was told. With two other people, a lady and a gentleman, I was led through the corridor to her office. I learned that the two were to be in our meeting. They were technical staff in one of the departments of KCCA.

When the door was opened Jennifer walked towards us to give us a welcome. She was calm. The meeting started immediately after the greetings and it went on for half an hour. Everyone talked, everyone listened. Jennifer spoke with composure, straight, yet with warmth. And she listened with keen interest.
At the end, when I requested to remain behind to speak to her about other issues since I was a journalist, she calmly advised me to seek another appointment for that purpose. 

If you want to know what we discussed yesterday, just check The Sunrise next week or visit this blog again and you will get some of it. 

So what is my impression of Jennifer? She is simply professional and too organised. Some Ugandans, who benefit from disorganization, or are simply accustomed to confusion, just can’t cope with her.

Felix Kyeyune, a marketer, tells me that every time he has taken a letter to KCAA they have swiftly responded. A journalist with one of the dailies in Uganda tells me that he has always gotten quick response every time he has needed Jennifer. You don’t get the same treatment from most public offices. They never reply letters, rarely respond to emails, and either pick calls to tell lies or they don’t answer calls at all.

I will now give you one statement from Jennifer in that meeting: “A lot of things in Uganda lack leadership.”
So the people we have in many offices are not the ones we deserve. Do we deserve her in KCCA? I still say YES! I know it is painful to the people whose containers are being removed from road reserves but those are ROAD RESERVES!

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