As President Yoweri Museveni officially commences work for his fifth term in office, he has set his eyes on turning the high tide of opposition in Kampala by offering to change the mindset of the youth and women in Kampala as well as provide some financial incentives to them.
The Sunrise has learnt that President Museveni this week met with NRM leaders from Kampala, most of whom lost in the just ended elections, and hammered out a plan dubbed Kampala Menu, through which the government will bank-roll youth groups in Kampala.
It is a less hostile-plan to the less privileged wanaichi of Kampala such as the hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth and single mothers, vendors, welders and boda boda riders. But the plan, which is being pushed by NRM political cadres, runs counter to KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi’s ‘elitist’ approach of restoring order to the city by ‘clearing’ vendors and paving roads at the expense of designing more inclusive programmes to cater for the poor.
Daniel Kazibwe, aka Ragga Dee, who lost the Kampala Mayoral bid to Hajj Erias Lukwago told The Sunrise that Kampala Menu is mostly about providing people with options or alternatives as opposed to the current hostile KCCA approach of bundling vendors on pick-ups.
“NRM has a plan for the people of Kampala. We would like tackle the high levels of youth unemployment in Kampala by first of all teaching people how to work and to get out of poverty.”
Kazibwe argued that many people of Kampala remain trapped in poverty because they are not sensitized about how to make money, but also that they are not organised on how to sell their goods or services.
“What we want to fight for as leaders who have a grasp of the conditions on the ground is to offer alternatives to the people instead of chasing people from the streets,” Kazibwe added: “Government will make sure that it changes people’s ways of life.
Asia Nabisere Kinaabi, the defeated NRM flag bearer for the Kampala Woman MP seat pointed out that President Museveni is set to unveil Kampala Menu while swearing in at Kololo. The plan is seen as an attempt to pull the rag under the feat of the opposition which has been riding on the anti-government sentiments.
As pointed out by Kazibwe, the people of Kampala support the opposition because of their desperate situation.
The ruling NRM party lost miserably in the just concluded elections in Kampala. The opposition won all the 11 MP seats as well as all the division mayoral positions in Kampala. Also the great majority of councillors at KCCA, were won by FDC which rode on the anti-NRM sentiments in the largely impoverished residents of Kampala.
KCCA administrators led by Jennifer Musisi were roundly blamed for employing hostile tactics in their operations to clean the city whereby they used to beat up vendors who were found selling wares.
Ragga Dee says that after training people how to make money, the youth will be supported with financial incentives that will enable them do more than poultry, but also venture into other areas such as metal workshops.
Gen. Salim Saleh, who is the overall co-ordinator of the Operation Wealth Creation, the NRM’s current flagship scheme against poverty is one of the main brains behind Kampala Menu. NRM leaders say that Kampala residents who have land outside the city where they can do commercial farming, will also be supported under the new programme.
It is important to point out however that this is not the first time the government is designing a special programme for the people of Kampala. Just after President Museveni had been elected for the outgoing term, he promised to tackle youth unemployment in Kampala by funding the creation of metal workshops in Kampala (locally known as sasa).
The government also pledged to put aside billions of money for interest-free lending to youth groups first through KCCA and later through commercial banks, but the funds were allegedly diverted to support other government activities.