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ATTORNEY GENERAL KIRYOWA OVER RULES MINSA KABANDA OVER KISEKA MARKET DEAL

By Mulengera Reporters 

Renowned for excellent deal-making skills, Kampala Minister Hajjat Minsa Kabanda had managed to get Kiseka Market belligerents namely Geoffrey Kayita and Robert Kisembo to bury hatchet and become one person. For years, the two have led antagonistic vendors’ factions with many accusing Kisembo being a proxy of the rich and politically powerful. Kayita had always been the one who was popular with majority vendors whose resentment for Kisembo grew more when their stalls got demolished to pave way for the redevelopment of the plot on which the market structure sits. 

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Minsa Kabanda managed to get them see that their endless wrangling was hurting them and the broader interests of the vendors who they claim to lead. Kiseka Market, like many others in Kampala, sits on leased land whose perpetual owner is Uganda Land Commission (on behalf of the GoU). One part of the plot is developed already with the multi-storied building standing there. The other part remains vacant and undeveloped. It’s that undeveloped portion whose lease had ran out prompting ULC to prepare re-entry. This would mean re-allocating the land to someone else but this politically would be risky as vendors would make noise and amplify anti-Museveni sentiments.

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This is the mischief Minsa Kabanda wanted to circumvent by getting the vendors together to increase their bargaining power regarding their natural desire to retain the plot. Upon coming together, the two (Kisembo & Kayita) had managed to get an investor; basically a rich Kampala businessman (names withheld) who would become the vendors’ joint venture partner and help them develop the vacant plot. They then approached Minsa Kabanda imploring her to help them get the Attorney General Kiwanuka Kiryowa to embrace their JV proposal and give his no objection on behalf of the GoU. This would ease many things including the solicitation of funding from banks and other potential funders.

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KIRYOWA DECLINES

Kabanda went ahead to secure the appointment for the duo to meet KK and the meeting was held on Tuesday 16th November 2021 at 2PM at the AG’s offices at Bauman House. Kiwanuka made it clear there is no way he would authenticate a process that would amount to reversing or overturning the President’s written directive requiring all markets to be under KCCA. The President’s directive was equally clear: time had come for private tenderers to be kicked out of KCCA markets because they tend to be very insensitive and exploitative towards the poor vendors.

During the Tuesday meeting, to which Minsa Kabanda carried the Kiseka market vendors’ leaders, Kiwanuka Kiryowa made it clear that bringing on board the said JV partner would pave way for the reintroduction of exactly the same exploitation of vendors by private investors who the President wanted to overcome. He advised that there was no need to panic since the land belongs to the same government which is now determined to develop and manage the very public markets in service of the interest of the very vendors.

He asserted that the government would ensure the land remains available and goes ahead to develop the same land for the vendors to operate in a better-built and more modernized market. During the same meeting, those present were unanimous in asserting that securing the vendors’ collective interest (in a demonstrably inclusive and transparent way) was more important than merely uniting the two leaders (Kisembo and Kayita) whose egos have been clashing over the years.

NOT FIRST TIME

Minsa Kabanda, whose close ally Asia Kinaabi Nabisere is already getting resisted for the way in which she is coordinating Parish Model-related preparations in Kampala, wasn’t facing city markets-related setback for the first time. Weeks earlier she had a rough time in Entebbe State House where Owino, Wandegeya and Nakasero markets’ leaders ganged up on her and reported terrible things to the President about her and the two Kampala RCCs (Hawa Ndege and Hudu Hussein) who closely work with her.

The meeting was meant to deescalate tensions between Kabanda and vendors’ interim chairpersons who told the President the Minister wanted them out so that her future campaign agents take charge (she intends to run for Kampala Central MP in 2026). They referenced on her delegation members who included Nakasero market’s Sempijja and Winnie Twine who was accused for using her employment in the President’s Office to work towards the return of Godfrey Kayongo’s SLOA in Owino where their exploitative reign had ended as a result of the President’s directive. She also brought chairpersons of the three villages along Kafumbe Mukasa Road against whom Owino vendors have been complaining because they operate ungazzetted market operations outside St. Balikuddembe market.

Led by Al-Hajji Siraji Kabana of Owino, the vendors’ leaders demanded that Kabanda denounces some of her supporters who keep making sectarian comments in reference to elected interim chairperson Suzan Kushaba who they say has no business leading Owino because of where she comes from. That the Minister was also among those who think that the interim chairpersons are collecting billions from vendors per month whereas not; Shs4bn in Owino and Shs2bn for Nakasero.

At the same meeting, the Minister’s supporters maintained that Kabana was working with others who abuse the Minsa Kabanda at press conferences. They also accused the anti-Minsa Kabanda markets’ leaders of treating vendors brutally. All this was corroborated by Hudu Hussein who told the President Kushaba is bad-mannered and abuses senior leaders in her media interviews. RCC Hawa Ndege, against whom vendors’ interim chairpersons had complained already calling her a walking stick for the Minister, also spoke in defense of Minsa Kabanda whose leadership style the President was told risked deepening wedge between KCCA ED Dorothy Kisaka and her Deputy Eng David Luyimbazi.

At some point, Gen Museveni asked Kushaba to say something after many pro-Minsa Kabanda speakers had accused her. She told the President she was being harangued, including being demonized for being a Munyankole, because she hadn’t been able to positively respond to extortionist demands from political leaders and some of the RDCs. “Your Excellency I would have no problem giving them money but the truth is I don’t even have what they are demanding for. One of your Ministers demanded for Shs10m per week as kickback from me which I don’t have sir. That is how all this fight against me began. One of the RDCs has equally been on my case. We used to provide for him/her Shs500,000 per week and time came when we couldn’t raise it anymore because of the lockdown and that is how the hostilities began. The RDC, who was with us at first, these days goes everywhere saying I’m a very bad person.”

To demonstrate her case, Kushaba even had printed records off her phone indicating that a kickback of Shs500,000 was being sent to the RDC’s phone every week. She asserted that one of the RDCs hates her because when an operation to distribute Covid food relief, which was under that RDC’s supervision, went bad prompting Edith Nakalema to intervene, the same RDC cried foul saying Kushaba was the whistleblower. She also admitted previously telling the media that Park Yard market had been burnt many times at a time Minsa Kabanda was part of the leadership at nearby Nakivubo Stadium.

“Mr. President your Kampala Minister is so unpopular that even me, a market vendors who she calls a Munyarwanda, can defeat her in any vote in Kampala. She is a bad person and forms opinion on people basing on religion and ethnicity,” Kushaba said of the Kampala Minister as Minsa Kabanda uneasily turned in her seat.

She then proceeded to read out a long breakdown of how much is collected and this was all aimed at demystifying claims by Kabanda’s supporters that Shs4bn was being collected in Owino market monthly. She then ran through what Kayongo’s SLOA (which she accused Minsa Kabanda of fraternizing with) used to brutally collect per day, per week and per month. Kushaba also enumerated the amenities and utilities on which the little her administration collects is expended.

She denied claims that KCCA was giving them Shs90m per month (as Owino market) and challenged her adversaries to prove to the contrary and no one dared to. “Mr. President I think that is written somewhere in their City Hall budget as KCCA but for us on the ground aren’t aware of that money,” Kushaba said. The meeting was in Luganda and she too spoke in Luganda, just like all the others did. The vendors’ leaders also implored Gen Museveni to inquire into claims that in all this, the Kampala Minister was looking for ways to expand business opportunities for her private hospital.

The ED Dorothy Kisaka said she was very disappointed about fellow leaders making unsubstantiated claims against her regarding money she knows nothing about. The vendors also told the President that some of the KCCA officials working in the Gender Directorate had interest and owned stalls in Owino and other markets, a thing that wasn’t responded to. Gen Museveni guided there was no need to go into that because “I already have a lot of intelligence about those people and I will strike at them at a right time.”

RCC Hudu Hussein had controversially told the President that Kisaka was frustrating government programs in Kampala, something he wasn’t prepared to elaborate. Kisaka furiously protested “Your Excellency that can simply not be true.” She added: “How can that be true when I’m getting the markets back under the control of KCCA, which is the same as government, as was directed by the President?”

Some speakers had claimed that Kisaka was the one emboldening market vendors like Kushaba and Faridah Kimuli of Nakasero market but Gen Museveni downplayed that claim by saying “these are my daughters and I’m the one who deployed them in those markets against Basajjabalaba who had become a problem.” Minsa Kabanda had been demanding that “chase them today sir out of those markets because they have become a problem” and Gen Museveni declined saying “I’m instead giving them three more months and then we shall see how to proceed.”

The vendors’ leaders demanded that the President inquires into some of the Minister’s people regarding the management of Covid vaccination exercise in Kampala and the big man from Rwakitura, clearly in a hurry to go and do other things, said: “give all that evidence you say you are having to Col Night over there.” The stormy meeting began at 2pm and went on up to 7pm. Before departing, vendors leader Siraje Kabana told the President to be careful about one of his Ministers who he said had been a liar for many years.

“Mr. President I originally belonged to FDC which I left for NRM but I can tell you many of these leaders before you are liars and I can’t imagine the pain you go through running government which such liars,” said Kabana who had been thumped and left with bruises on his face in the violence that preceded the State House meeting which was also attended by veteran Presidential Advisor Moses Byaruhanga among others. He also complained against CBS radio which he said was being by the Minister to incite ethnicity and demonize some of the elected leaders in Owino, Nakasero and Wandegeya markets.  (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

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