By Fred W Mutibwa
In my last article “Ffuna Endanga Muntu, Get a National ID! Is that all?” I promised to divulge more into opposition politics and business or the hardships opposition leaders persevere to make ends meet and feed their families while opposing a now 33 year old dictatorship. Like I indicated in my last article, a dictatorship looks at one thing and that’s its survival. For it to thrive, the perceived to be competitors must be impoverished such that they are incapacitated to move and mobilize against the regime in power. This is a theory by Niccole Machiveri as is detailed explained in his famous book ‘The Prince’ to which Mr. Museveni is a clear student since his University days.
In their December 29th 2018 Article, Mulengera News Website gave details of Opposition Leaders whose businesses are thriving like Democratic Party Hon’s Mathias Mpuuga of Masaka Municipality, Florence Namayanja of Bukoto East, Babirye Kabanda the Masaka district woman MP, Mukasa Mbidde the EALA legislator, Joseph Sewungu of Kalungu East, Latif Ssebagala of Kawempe North, Lulume Bayiga former MP of Buikwe South, among others. Let me now divulge more into only three (3) or four (4) Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leaders whose businesses have been greatly affected or closed because of opposing Mr. Museveni.
NATHAN NANDALA MAFABI
The Budadiri West Legislator who also doubles as Chairman Bugishu Cooperative Union (BCU) and FDC Secretary General rose to prominence between 2006-to date when he served as Chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Leader of Opposition (LOP) in Parliament and now Secretary General of the Forum for Democratic Change.
This Elgon strongman became an immediate threat to the regime having been looked at as the next in queue to the FDC strong man to Dr. Kizza Besigye having even attempted to replace him as FDC Party President in 2012 when he (Nandala) competed with and lost to former Army Commander Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Gregory Mugisha Muntu.
Government ascended on him first by dismantling his famous Bus Company (Elgon Fliers), then went for his Petrol Stations. At first, government used Nandala’s Petrol Station managers to swindle his lucrative businesses of 600 Million shillings, 567 million shillings, and 432 Million shillings respectively from three different petrol stations.
When Nandala arrested the trio (three Managers), government went to Sironko district and started propaganda among the locals that Nandala was arresting their sons for no good reason.
In a bid to close up the gaps, Nandala decided to get a loan in 2 banks (names withheld) to a tune of 3 billion shillings, so as to recapitalize his fuel businesses, when government learnt of it, it immediately went to the said Banks and asked them to immediately recall the loans that they had given to the strongman from Bugisu.
To some of you who have been following also remember how the same government has been buying delegates to a tune of 2-50 Million shillings to fail Nandala from winning the Chairmanship of the farmers in Bugisu. Of course the entire intention is to ‘kill’ BCU since it’s the only standing cooperative Union in the entire country having successfully dealt with Busoga growers, Masaka Growers Cooperative Union, East Mengo and West Mengo Cooperative Unions, Banyankole Kweterana Cooperative Union, Acholi, West Nile, Teso, Lango, Sebei Cooperative Unions among others. Museveni thinks that BCU is keeping the Bagisu in a self-sustainable mode.
This has been done to fulfill the mission of having a poor citizenry that are gullible and easy to reign over. Such and of course a lot more not said here is the kind of hardships that Nandala Mafabi and people like him have had to deal with from the time they decided that Uganda deserves better.
DR SULEIMAN KIKABI KIGGUNDU
This one lost life and property. Dr. Kiggundu was the first National Chairman of Forum for Democratic Change Party and died on June 20th 2008.
For a record, Dr. Kiggundu established Green Land Bank that turned out to become Uganda’s biggest indigenous private Commercial Bank with in the seven (7) years of its existence. It had reached a deposit base of 78 billion shillings and asset base of 88 billion shillings in Uganda, while the Tanzania branch had a deposit base of TZ Shs5.7 billion and asset base of TZ Shs6.8 billion (This is as per the exchange rate and value of 2008). He had also established a Green land Bank branch in Zambia. Greenland Bank which was closed on April 1st 1999 not because of lending big sums of money in violation of the Financial Institutions Statute as claimed by Museveni but simply of politics. Dr. Kiggundu was looked at as a political threat. It’s even surprising that COSASE is focused on Crane Bank but hasn’t said a word about Green land Bank.
In a meeting held in Rwakitura at Museveni’s country home in 1999 leading to the closure of the bank, Museveni and his young brother Gen. Salim Salah (which was attended by Sheikh Obed Kamulegeya, Dr. Kiggundu and Prince Kassimu Nakibinge (Kabaka’s brother)), the trio were told in the face by Museveni that they were through Mr. Hassan Al-Turabi (the then Deputy President of Sudan) using Greenland Bank to fund ADF activities and other forces of change against Museveni’s regime.
In his response, Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu pleaded with Museveni and told him that he only watches Deputy President Hassan Al-Turabi on TV but had never been anywhere near him. On this Museveni refused and that’s how the bank was closed.
Surprisingly, Four (4) days to its closure, Dr. Kiggundu had sought 52 Billion shillings Grant from the Royal Family of the Emirates in UAE, which had been granted by King Faisal. You may need to know that as the meeting was going on in Rwakitura, bullion Vans packed at Greenland towers (current Cairo Bank) and took all the liquid cash found in the bank and all documents of assets owned by Green land Bank.
Green land Bank was not the only property that Dr. Kiggundu lost; he had established a catalogue of Kiggundu Empire in and outside Uganda and was the Wealthiest man in Uganda at the moment. A financial purge was conducted on him and that’s how Entebbe Resort Beach which was a property of the Kiggundu Empire on addition to FIBA coffee factory that was located in industrial area were lost.
Dr. Kiggundu, Professor Kateregga of the current Kampala University ‘the Original’ and others were the owners of Kampala International University (KIU) before government took it over through Hassan Basajjabalabba. Also to note, Dr. Kiggundu owned Jinja Leather Turning Factory, Tiptop Bread Company in Jinja, Uganda Grain Milling Company in Mbale, International School Kabojja (currently housing IUIU female Campus Kabojja), a number of Forex Bureaus in Entebbe, Kampala and all major towns in Uganda and a lot of prime land in several parts of this country.
The above and much more is what Dr. Kiggundu lost on addition to life as a price for attempting to oppose Mr. Museveni.
There is Kizito Livingstone, the current FDC Chairman for Makindye division in Kampala, who was one of the first Ugandans to own private boats better than the recently capsized MV Templar. Kizito boasted his boat business when East African Harbors closed and he purchased 2 state of the art modern cruise boats (Yacht) through Public Auctioning.
For standing with Dr. Kizza Besigye since 2001, government withdrew the license from Mr. Kizito for operating the Boats, he further lost 1 and Half acres of land in Kibuye, and a fleet of 17 trailers were all technically taken by the junta government.
I can go on and on detailing almost all FDC leaders both at senior and junior level the kind of losses they have undergone under this dictatorship but this would require a full book addressed to the topic.
For Dr. Kizza Besigye, all the above have been punished for standing with him in a second liberation struggle but so to say, Dr. Besigye was the revolution behind the current Private Security firms that are earning huge sums of money in providing private security to several companies and individuals.
What happened? In 2005, government trumped up charges of treason against Dr. Kizza Besigye together with 19 others who were kept at Luzira Maximum Prison on addition to educationists like Muzei William Mukaira, Paul Kahiigi and others that were kept in Prisons in Western Uganda. Dr. Besigye was charged in 2005 purportedly for heading a rebel outfit called People’s Redemption Army (PRA) and government claimed that he was using his Private Security Firm as a conduit to recruit Rebels and acquire Fire Arms.
From then on, his Private Security Company was closed, and it became hard for him to directly transact and own any business in Uganda. In fact as a medical doctor, it’s his right to own a Medical facility (Hospital, Phamacy or Clinic) if he so wished but what would happen if he established any of that, they would either fail to get a license or sinister things would be done from it to tarnish Besigye’s image in public.
Probably that’s why he settled for franchising at Total Nsambya where Total Uganda/ International sets the price for him to sell fuel at and he only earns a commission as a broker. Since he earns less, the dictator may not be bothered with such since it’s less threatening to his power. We may also need to remember that Dr. Besigye just like Hon. Nandala have had their roots in the fuel business traced back to their grandparents who dealt in fuel in the early years. Nathan Nandala’s grandfather was the first Ugandan in Eastern Uganda to own a Fuel pump before Amin made his life difficult and he ran to Kenya.
By the way all that is property but just like Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu lost life in 2008, Dr. Kizza Besigye heavily paid the price of opposing Mr. Museveni through his brother called Joseph Musasiizi Kifeefe, who after the black mamba incident that rocked court to re-arrest him and others; he started ambivalently sweating and his life deteriorated to death. Whatever was injected to him during the scuffle, only God knows. Yes even life is lost while opposing a dictator.
Mulengera News Website already gave a hint on what most leaders in the opposition have gone through to make ends meet but I decided to specifically expound on the above four people to make you readers understand that much as most of these opposition honchos keep quiet and don’t amplify their woes in the media, they go through tough times as they oppose the dictatorship.
The day you wake up and decisively stand for and with the oppressed, the oppressor will not only come for your businesses but will also make several attempts on your life, family, friends and property. In 2001, Dr. Besigye survived a planned Helicopter crush as he was headed to Arua for campaigns, he has survived several assassination attempts including the 2012 bullet that hit one of his fingers, 2016 attempts to break into his home with guns and take his life among others.
What Dr. Besigye has gone through is exactly what any other opposition leader focused on dismantling the dictatorship will go through or even worse for as long as you come up to wrestle power from Museveni or his cronies.
Finally as we begin 2019, we need to put all our focus and energy on how to end the dictatorship before it comes to end us. We should not find solace in apportioning blame or making justifications on whose opposition leaders’ businesses are affected most.
The writer is a Political Analyst.