President Museveni on Friday spent the day meeting and talking to traders, vendors, and arcade owners in Kampala in a political move to halt the waning support to the ruling NRM party.
President Museveni donated more than Shs2b to different savings and credit groups of traders in the Old Taxi Park, Nakasero, Owino and Kisekka markets, all in the central business district.
Mr Museveni told the traders that they were partly to blame for voting Opposition leaders in Kampala, who he blamed for the controversial sale of the markets.
“You chased me away and brought people like [Nasser] Ssebagala, the late [John] Ssebana and now [Erias] Lukwago. That’s why we are here now,” he said, referring to the Opposition Kampala mayors.
Kampala is the Opposition stronghold with all Members of Parliament, Lord Mayor and division mayoral positions being occupied by the Opposition.
President Museveni said government decided to remove the executive powers from the elected mayor because of the “Opposition poor management” and created the office of the executive director for effective running of the city.
He described the owners of arcades who charge tenants for using toilets as “inhumane” and ordered them to stop charging tenants for using toilets.
“All those with shopping malls, must have running water, toilets and fire extinguishers,” he said.
The Nakasero market traders told the President that they want the title deed, saying they had gradually completed paying for the land on which the market is located.
In response, Mr Museveni said he was still weighing two options of leaving the market under the ownership of Kampala Capital City Authority or handing it over to the traders.
He said it was a wrong idea to sell the markets in Kampala.
“Government had established these markets for low income earners but they were sold to private businessmen. This was a wrong idea,” he said, drawing cheers from traders in Nakasero.
After Nakasero, he toured Owino market where he donated Shs500m to the two Saccos in the market. There are two rival groups in the market, one led by Godfrey Kayongo — who also heads the United Market Vendors Association (UMVA) and another by Mr John Baptist Kivumbi, the chairman of the rival Market Produce Traders and Vendors Cooperative Society Ltd (MPTVC).
The President later visited Kisekka Market, which has become a hotbed of riots in Kampala, and gave Shs500m to two groups of traders.
The President later met the owners of arcades and traders in the Old Taxi Park where he gave the same amount (Shs500m) to each group.
He encouraged the traders to venture into manufacturing and promised government support to them.