By Our Reporters
To a distant observer, Caesar Mulenga is a free-giving kind hearted philanthropist ever making generous contributions towards community causes. But to a number of traders in his home Kisoro town, Mulenga is a difficult personality seeking to empower the rest of the community members to serve his own selfish ends. Indeed, the latest info from Kisoro shows that a number of hitherto very successful business people are cursing and regretting the day they accepted taking credit or loan facilities from the numerous money lending schemes (SACCOs) pioneered by Mulenga in their border town. Portraying himself as a development-minded actor enthusiastic about Kisoro’s economic transformation, Mulenga has over the years pioneered several SACCO-like schemes ostensibly for the benefit of his home people. These include YES Ducuruze, Kisoro Profit, Girinka Mulenga SACCO and Global Women Billionaires. To attract large membership, Mulenga correctly gives his schemes names that superficially sound very inspirational and this has always attracted many to take up membership. Our investigations show that YES Ducuruze mostly attracted wealthy businessmen in Kisoro with each paying Shs0.8m for annual membership. Kisoro Profit is for lower income-earners each paying Shs150,000 in annual membership. Girinka Mulenga members pay Shs0.5m in membership annually and Shs100,000 is paid by those joining Global Women Billionaires. Because it’s them with some income, these schemes membership is largely dominated by people doing different trading activities in Kisoro town. The curiously rich Mulenga boosts these schemes by injecting an average of Shs1-2bn in each scheme to create a strong deposit base from which enrolled members can take business loans. On becoming an enrolled member, one is entitled to borrowing at an interest rate of 3% per month. Mulenga benefits by being entitled to 33% of every interest paid by a borrower. Sources close to him say that this partly is the source of the self-professed King of Development’s controversial wealth besides the startup dimes he reaped from his controversial relations with key actors in South Sudan.
The troubling part is that Mulenga mostly invests his philanthropist by aiding charitable causes associated to big organizations like churches largely because that gives him good publicity in return. “He never extends charity to the real genuine poor and financially vulnerable persons who are very many even in his native Busamba village in Chahi Sub County. His inclination is to make grand contributions in favor of beneficiaries [like Bishops] who already have means and aren’t as needy as the real poor who are plentifully available everywhere in Kisoro,” says one of the knowledgeable and influential traders we spoke to in Kisoro. “As if that isn’t bad enough, money borrowed from his SACCOs and lending organizations has lately been associated with bad omen because most of the traders who have borrowed it haven’t profited. They have instead collapsed and become financially worse off. This has fermented lots of anti-Mulenga sentiments in Kisoro which partly explains why he isn’t very visible with public engagements lately.” On defaulting to repay back Mulenga’s loans, some traders have fled their homes and business locations fearing arrest. The business community members are also aggrieved because of the way Mulenga treats them each time he buys a commercial building in Kisoro. As new landlord, he is never interested in continuing with their tenancies. His practice is chasing them away and subsequently demolishing the building further fermenting anger among traders. He is also accused of buying land and property in a manner that has created artificially very high real estate prices in Kisoro making it unaffordable for many people.
Naturally these negative sentiments have ended up being exploited by his foes (who are very many) to further demonize him as not good enough to be the Kisoro opinion leader he takes himself to be. His foes include Gender PS Pius Bigirimana who he hated from the day he pioneered attacks and opposition to his 2015 efforts to christen himself King of Kigezi. Back then Mulenga envisaged a “Development Kingdom” over which he would be king but the move backfired when Kisoro’s leading luminaries openly denounced it and distanced themselves from the same. Bigirimana (a fellow Hutu) was the first one followed by the then powerful IGP Kale Kayihura and later on Philemon Mateke. All these are now foes to Mulenga on top of others like MPs James Nsaba Buturo and Sam Bitangaro. The latter’s fallout is even more intriguing because his Rucherebuga Road-based main residence in Kisoro comprises of a house he bought from the Bufumbira South Legislator (Bitangaro). But majority say his problems began with the Kingship ambition which alienated him from many people and created foes for him. Mulenga, who marries from the great Basaaza family, was to suffer more setback when Anglican Bishop Cranimer Mugisha chaired the diocesan council meeting during which the clergy voted to reject any further donations from him on grounds the source of the money remained a mystery. Mulenga, a Makerere BCOM graduate, reacted apprehensively and almost cancelled a generous contribution he had previously pledged for the construction of the CoU Eye Center in Rubuguri Town Council. Consequently the silent conflict with Bishop Mugisha (initially his ally) has greatly demonized Mulenga among Protestants who are the majority in Kisoro. The manner in which the Anglican clerics denounced him made many other faith-based organizations to become more cautious receiving Mulenga’s money. Indeed as they say, one man’s poison is another’s meat. The Anglican blockade created an excess in Mulenga’s philanthropy budget which his Catholic Church leaders exploited by widely opening their hands to receive even more and indeed Bishop Cellist Rubarema has been a key beneficiary. Mulenga continues to fund his church projects with as much as Shs300m in one go whenever there are those rampant weekend fundraising events. Prime Minister Rugunda is another great beneficiary of Mulenga’s curiously very large wallet. Whenever he is invited to preside over fundraising events in Kigezi, Rugunda ensures Mulenga is among the key fundraisers he carries along. And for Mulenga the Rugunda link couldn’t have come at a better time because the fall of Kayihura left him almost with no political godfathers. His foes believed he was finished following the public rebuke President Museveni directed at him during a public meeting at Kisoro State Lodge. Specifically giving his views on the controversial Kingship, Museveni furiously warned Mulenga against divisive undertakings which could complicate community relations in Kigezi. Museveni specifically said: “Mulenga you are among those who have made money because of the sacrifice we made as NRA to bring this stability to Uganda. It seems you have a lot of money and you don’t know what to do with it.” Sources at the meeting say, Museveni offered to tutor Mulenga on what ought to be done with the too much money he has. This rebuke belittled Mulenga and prompted him to scale down on his public engagements in Kisoro where even Boda riders were beginning to be up in arms against him claiming his SACCO scheme wasn’t working well for them as initially expected. So Rugunda comes at a time when Mulenga was on the verge of becoming orphaned in as far as having a powerful political godfather was concerned. The other strong ally he still has is Ruhinda County MP Thomas Tayebwa. Mistaking him for a PA, some Kisoro youths resented Mulenga wondering why he doesn’t choose one of them to do the necessary juicy errands for him rather than Tayebwa who isn’t from Kisoro. The other key person Mulenga has these days is Foreign Affairs state minister Okello Oryem, a relationship that has enabled him to continue travelling the globe (using diplomatic passports) with relative ease. Deputy Defense Minister Okello Engola is another emerging friend for the much isolated Mulenga. They recently returned together from a very productive trip abroad.
SOCIAL MEDIA ATTACKS
True to his character, attention-seeking Mulenga shared some of the trip photos on one of the Kisoro whatsapp chat forums. Wondering why they should be concerned with his private affairs, participants reacted with disdain. Mulenga kept quiet and the hard task to defend him fell on the shoulders of Emmanuel Hatega (aka Vega). Hatega is very fond of Mulenga because of the great support he gives to his READ Pre and Primary School in Kisoro where he sponsors more than 100 kids. Even at the family level, Mulenga isn’t very solid because the Kisoro community perceives him as one not doing enough to elevate his immediate family members including his old man who leads near destitute life in Kamwokya where he often mingles with local drunkards and many can’t believe he fathers such a wealthy man. He is seen as being more supportive to the Eng Basaaza family from where he married the mother of his four children with whom he lives in the Nakasero/Kyaddondo road residence. When his father-in-law got terminally ill, Mulenga spent huge sums of money for his treatment the very reason no one complained when he became the owner of the prime plot opposite Christ the King Church in Kampala said to previously have belonged to his father in law. It’s on this plot that Mulenga’s multi-billion rental property (that some falsely claim to be Kayihura’s) sits. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.