Paul and I were surprised (although maybe we shouldn’t have been) when we saw Toronto’s mayor appear on the BBC news program we were watching while in Zanzibar, Tanzania a few weeks ago! We’ve casually followed the story, and I thought it would be interesting to highlight the parallels between Rob Ford’s situation and Erias Lukwago’s situation (the recently removed mayor of Kampala).
From the information I’ve been able to gather, Lukwago was elected by the citizens of Kampala when his political party merged with another one to form an opposition coalition. Since then he has governed with a fair amount of support from his constituents. However, he has frustrated the agenda of President Museveni’s majority. Therefore, although there were a number of steps to follow, Kampala’s city councilors removed Mayor Lukwago from power earlier this week. In protest Lukwago and his supporters led a demonstration for a few hours the following day until they were all arrested!
Paul and I were in Kampala the day after the Mayor was arrested and our boda driver shed light on the situation from his perspective. He told us that the President has forgotten that the people of Kampala voted for their mayor and he believed that Lukwago shouldn’t be removed without their consent. He was saddened by what felt like to him, the undemocratic approach used to deal with this situation. Finally, he said that the citizens of Kampala need solidarity to stand up for democratic procedure in their government.
As a Canadian abroad, I’m embarrassed (although somewhat amused) by Rob Ford’s behaviour and by the lack of power Toronto’s city councilors have to remove him from power. However, contrasting this situation with the one in Kampala makes me grateful for the Toronto government’s adherence to democratic procedure, even if it can make things seem ridiculous at times!