President Yoweri Museveni dished out more than Shs 3 billion to traders in downtown Kampala on Friday during his tour of the area.
The donations are even likely to increase once the details of smaller Saccos are fine-tuned and submitted to the President's Office for consideration. Museveni promised the traders even more money and more goodies - literally promising to solve all the financial problems raised by the traders.
This was Museveni's first tour of downtown since the commencement of elective politics in 1996, almost 12 years after he assumed power. Museveni bluntly told traders that they had abandoned him by electing opposition politicians and he'd abandoned them in return.
Who got what?
Museveni visited six groups during the the tour that started at about midday and ended at 7:00pm. At Nakasero market where Museveni addressed the first rally, he donated Shs 100 million to the traders' main Sacco and promised a further Shs 10 million for each small Sacco.
This reporter was told that there are over 20 smaller Saccos - meaning that the president will hand out more donations in excess of Shs 200 million. From Nakasero, Museveni proceeded to the Old Tax Park where he announced a donation of Shs 500 million to the taxi operators main Sacco. He also promised to donate Shs 10 million for each small Sacco.
There are over 30 small Saccos, so Museveni will give out extra Shs 300 million to Old Taxi Park based Saccos. The president's third stopover was Owino market where he also donated Shs 500 million to the main market Sacco and promised another Shs 10 million to each small Sacco. The president was told that there are precisely 97 small Saccos, which will fetch Shs 970 million extra cash.
In Owino, the president promised to pay the Shs 4.5 billion debt that traders owe to DFCU bank. Government, he further promised, will help traders to develop the market. Museveni then headed to Qualicel Bus terminal where he met groups of traders from various arcades. He launched Kampala Acarders Advocacy Forum (KAAFO) Sacco and blessed it with a donation of Shs 100 million.
Museveni further promised to fund 10 women from Kampala Women Traders Development Association (KAWODTA) who requested for financial support as they plan to go for a study trip in Turkey.
Museveni's penultimate mini rally was at the market of disabled traders situated on the edge of New Taxi Park. Disabled traders under Kampala Association of Disabled Traders Company Limited are consumed and locked up in a land row. He didn't make any donations here.
Kiseka market, the famed opposition arena, that has, for many years been seen as a fermentation ground for opposition protests in Kampala was where Museveni held his last rally. Throngs of people lined the aisles of Nakivubo road and cheered Museveni as he entered Kiseka.
Here, Museveni donated Shs 250 million to each of the Saccos belonging to the two rival groups in the market. As at the preceding mini rallies, he promised Shs 5 million to each of the small Saccos in the area. He was told that that there are over 40 small Saccos in Kiseka.
Museveni told traders that they decided to vote for opposition politicians first; Nasser Ntege Sebaggala, then John Ssebaana Kizito and now Erias Lukwago as city mayors. Museveni used various proverbs to explain Kampala's political dilemma.
For instance, Museveni referred to a Runyankore proverb at various rallies that goes; "amazi kugagira ngu otanyoga, oti nanye naba ntine nziro." This is loosely translated to mean that "when water rejects you, you in return say you had no dirt that warranted a shower."
To pronounce his return to downtown, Museveni referred to another Runyankore proverb which says; "ekyitita muhima tikyimaraho ente ze." This literally means that "what can't kills a cattle herder, can never kill all his cows."
Museveni said he had finally come to see people who have been politically rebellious for a long time. Museveni said traders should pardon him for abandoning them, but hastened to argue that they should also ask to be pardoned since they were the first to abandon him when Uganda opened the curtains for elective politics in 1996.
Museveni chided traders for electing "useless" politicians who later came to haunt them by selling markets to private investors and city tycoons. Museveni told traders at Nakasero market that politicians who they elected sold markets and never shared proceeds with them.
Since 2011, when Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) replaced the defunct Kampala City Council (KCC), traders have been labouring to regain control of markets and market land.
From Nakesero market to Owino, Old Tax Park, traders are entangled in deep seated conflicts over ownership, eviction threats and struggles to acquire land titles among others. Almost, all these markets are saddled in litigations.
Explaining the philosophy of markets, Museveni likened them to nurseries, where traders start horning their business skills. And when they feel, they have graduated from informal trading; Museveni argued traders leave market stalls to other people who want to join. He reiterated several times selling these markets, was a big mistake.