As fights erupt over president’s city tours
President Museveni’s recent cash-laden charm offensive on a Kampala city hitherto hostile to him could amount to pouring money down the drain, if the latest revelation is anything to go by.
An investigation by The Observer has established that the savings and credit cooperative (Sacco) at Mulago Kubbiri that Museveni gave Shs 100 million and eight car washing pumps on September 6 is not formally registered.
When contacted for comment, the chairman-elect of the ‘Mulago car washers Sacco’, Henry Ssegujja, conceded that the organisation did not exist before the president’s visit to the area.
“We formed it the day before the president came,” he said.
Segujja added that by the close of business last Friday, nearly 10 days since the president’s visited, they had not registered the Sacco. He said they are a little confused about Sacco registration procedures.
“We don’t know whether we will register it,” he said.“Those who register are confusing us. Someone from the city council [KCCA] told us they are the right people who register, but then someone from Kawanda also came here and said they are the ones who register Saccos. We don’t know who will help us.”
To receive the money, a Sacco must be registered. Officially, Saccos are registered by the city division councils and the ministry of trade’s cooperatives desk is notified.
FIGHT OVER CASH
But even before they formalise their existence, the recipients have started fighting among themselves over the money. The money is meant to go to Sacco members in form of soft loans.
Some of the car washers interviewed on Friday said their chairman has suddenly got new friends, including some big people. They said they were afraid their chairman could be hoodwinked and the money swindled.
Richard Kiberu, a car washer, said when the president visited the area, they saw “new faces of people they have never seen washing cars” receive the dummy cheque.
“This money thing is going to cause us problems; wherever we go, now people tell us ‘you people of Mulago received pumps and money’ but we haven’t received anything,” Kiberu said.
Zilbah Kamusiime, who leads Wandegeya Trust jet car wash but did not receive the pump, said the people who got it had been selected secretly and “others did not know the president was even coming”.
Some car washers are also up in arms over the pumps. From Mulago roundabout in Wandegeya to Kubbiri, next to Pastor Samuel Kakande’s church, there are about 10 washing bays. And whereas four of them told The Observer they had received the pumps, there was no pump in use or display when this reporter visited the area on Thursday.
Meddie Ssebunya of Fire Fire washing bay said they received the pump. When we asked to see it, he said “since it is new, we have kept it so that people don’t spoil it.”
The chairman of Mulago Business Centre washing bay, a one Ambrose, said they had received the pumps, although he declined to show them to us. A few metres away at Kayembe washing bay, car washers there said they were not invited for the president’s visit and they did not get the washing pumps.
The Kayembe washing bay chairman, Ali Ssekadde, said: “The president should scrutinise people who reach him to ask for help and establish whether the people he gave things truly get them.”
Over the last couple of weeks, the president has toured parts of Kampala, giving out Shs 100m to each Sacco –car washers, garage owners and carpenters, among others.
The Observer reported last week that in three weeks, President Museveni has given out more than Shs 600m in cash and over Shs 1bn in tools to win over hearts and minds in Kampala. The president’s undeclared objective is to loosen the opposition’s grip on the capital given his poor showing in the during the last elections.
Museveni has insisted on delivering his gifts and pledges personally since in the past, government officials have misappropriated them. These revelations are likely to punch holes in Museveni’s mode of operation, with the president likely to fall victim to unscrupulous characters in the city.
Both the minister for Kampala, Beti Kamya, who has toured Kampala with the president, and her deputy Benny Namugwanya Bugembe were unavailable for comment when contacted on Saturday.
Incidentally, the president is not moving with the KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi as he endears himself to city dwellers. After the February 2016 polls, Museveni accused Musisi of losing him supporters in Kampala due to her high-handed handling of city dwellers.
However, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago told The Observer on Saturday that the fact that some of the Saccos that Museveni is giving money are unregistered did not come as a surprise to him.
Lukwago explained that the city authority had channels like the Community Driven Development(CDD)fund and the youth livelihood programme, which could have been used to deliver the money after thorough scrutiny of the recipients.
“If the money is to develop the people of Kampala, let us use the right channels,” Lukwago said. “This system was circumvented using avenues outside the law. We were not contacted in the selection of the beneficiaries of that money.”