Interim market leaders protest appointment of market masters, report Kampala Minister Minsa Kabanda to President Museveni over sabotage

Vendors in city markets have petitioned President Museveni over Kampala Minister Minsa Kabanda (PHOTO /UgStandard).

KAMPALA — Interim leaders in city markets under their umbrella organization, Progressive Market Vendors Alliance have reported Kampala Minister, Minsa Kabanda to President Museveni—listing upto six grounds for the President to intervene in the management of markets.

Their petition follows a letter written by the Minister of Kampala Hajjat Minsa Kabanda to the Kampala Capital City Authority Executive Director, Dorothy Kisaka introducing market masters to manage the markets on behalf of the government.

Kabanda accuses the interim leaders of failing to account for 697 Million Shillings they receive annually from the government.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday at Biraj Hotel in Nakasero, they requested President to order Minister Kabanda to back off city makerts and claimed she was plotting to return the same people Mr Museveni himself flashed out last year.

The Progressive Market Vendors Alliance is an umbrella association of city market vendors including St. Balikuddembe, Nakasero Market, Bukoto Market, USAFI Market, Bugolobi Market, Wandegeya Market, Kalerwe among others.

“We request the President to tell his Minister of Kampala to respect interim committees… and give us a chance to perform since we already have successful running projects in our respective markets that have helped the people,” the vendors said in a joint statement.

They claim in their statement that they are being fought by the old committees who were flashed out of the markets by President Museveni over gross mismanagement, terrorizing of traders and extortion.

The vendors have also accused Minister Kabanda of micromanaging Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) including usurping the powers of KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka and in the process unfairly undermining her decisions on proper management of city markets.

“We humbly ask Minister Kabanda to let the Executive Director [Dorothy Kisaka] do her work in these markets and let us also do our work and be accountable to our bosses,” the vendors wrote.

The interim leaders also claim that the Minister wants them out of the markets because they jointly rejected a kick back proposal by her agents.

“They are fighting us because they want us to give them the money yet we also don’t have it because we only collect garbage collection which we use maximum and that is why the markets are clean and at peace with enough security,” they noted.

They added:” But since Honorable Kabanda took over, she has been harassing us and wants to change leadership conniving with the old leadership that the President took down so that they can collect money once again from these markets and share it”.

Leaders speak out

Kimuli Faridah the treasurer of Nakasero Market asked the minister not to interfere in the work of the interim committees.

Kimuli accused the old committees of the markets of frustrating the work of the interim committees. She wants the Minister to respect the new committee since they were put in place through a presidential directive.

Jacqueline Kakwenzi, the chairperson of Bukoto market says that the leadership availed accountability of the funds to KCCA.

Muhammad Ssegwanyi, the publicity secretary to the Progressive Market Vendors Alliance accuses Kabanda of disrupting the operations of the markets. He cites USAFI Market where Kabanda instructed a group of youths to occupy land without consulting the market leadership.

Ssegwanyi says that they were appointed legally and that they are ready for free and fair elections. He says that the minister should follow the procedures.

Other leaders including
Suzan Kushaba the Chairperson St. Balikuddembe Market,
Ssegwanyi Muhammed spokesperson Vendors Alliance,
Nakalyango Gloria for USAFI,
Mysmall Nabukenya chairperson Wandegeya Market among others also attended the media briefing.

Last month, traders in St. Balikuddembe castigated Kampala Minister, Minsa Kabanda—accusing her of lack of knowledge about its developments

The traders argued that the issue of hijacking markets has gone on for too long—noting Minister Kabanda is being misled by powerful individuals who are planning to seize power and return terror in the market.

Kabanda speaks out

Kabanda maintained that they will appoint market masters to administer the markets on behalf of KCCA for proper management. She says that the masters will file regular reports to the KCCA about the operations of the markets.

Museveni defends interim committees 

President Museveni recently praised the interim leaderships in some the markets including Owino and rejected its giveaway to a private investor.

The President also met with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, Ms Dorothy Kisaka, and then senior presidential adviser on economic affairs, Ms Jane Barekye, at State House and clarified that the market had been given to local traders who were managing them well.

President Museveni in 2019 instituted a committee led by the First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali, to study the status of public and private markets in the city to empower vendors and report their findings to Cabinet.

On November 4, 2019, the committee submitted a report to Cabinet.

Committee members, who attended a Cabinet meeting were quoted by Daily Monitor saying that they were directed to reconcile the warring factions in the city markets to facilitate its development for the benefit of all.

They said in the alternative, the Cabinet proposed compulsory takeover of the market by the government to develop and manage it in case reconciliation failed.

But towards the end of last, President Museveni ordered for the removal of the leadership of government markets within Kampala, saying they had hijacked these trading centres and are imposing unwanted dues on vendors.

In a September 25, 2020, letter to the then Kampala minister, Betty Amongi, titled, ‘Issues Concerning Markets and Rufulas in Kampala’, Museveni argued that the issue of hijacking markets and rufulas (abattoirs) has “gone on for too long”.

The President instead proposed that vendors should elect their leadership under the supervision of the Kampala minister.

“I, therefore, with immediate effect, direct that you remove from the Government markets the “association leaders” and the sellers elect, under your supervision, new leaders. The damning indictment for these associations leaders is that some of them registered themselves as the proprietors of the markets instead of the association of sellers (vendors),” he said.

“Let all these Association leaders stand aside so that the situation is understood better. I am told that the issue of compensating these imposters is also being messed up by the colluders. The idea was that the government should repossess its markets and the private people that had tried to grab the markets should be compensated for the little they put in if at all. I now hear that compensation is moving very fast but repossession and illegal multiple taxation is not mentioned at all,” the President added.

There are 16 government markets in Kampala with 122,400 vendors and 280 slaughter abattoirs equipped with 280 slaughters.

Owino Market, Museveni added, has 100,000 sellers, Nakasero Market 1, 600, Kisekka Market 20,000, and Bugolobi Market 8,000.

“However, all those (sellers) are being exploited by cliques of leaders that hijack these associations. These association leaders collect the following taxes from the people; when a lorry arrives, it pays sh50,000-70,000. When you enter the gate, you pay sh1,000 or sh3,000 per bunch. Stall owners pay sh12,500 per month,” Museveni said, decrying payment of other dues such as sh200 for toilet use per visit, sh500 per water jerrycan yet the average market price for a jerrycan of water is sh50, and the sh880 payment of a unit of electricity yet the sector price of a unit is sh750 per unit.

The President has also called for the implementation of the sh78,000 annual tax levies instead of collecting multiple taxes from vendors.

“All this is contrary to my directives that aimed at stopping multiple taxation. Apart from the annual fee for using the market which should be sh78,000, any other tax measures should only be put with the agreement of the Central Government and it should be, preferably, only one tax—so that the tax measures are two: annual and one other,” he said.

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