Deputy Movement spokesman Ofwono Opondo
The Spokesperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement who is also the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Center Ofwono Opondo reacted with sadism to calls by some politicians that government reviews its recent backing of the forceful eviction of vendors from Nakivubo Parkyard.
“I have no sympathies for Park yard vendors whatsoever. First of all, as the name of the place they are fighting over suggests, they know very well that it is a parking space for Nakivubo stadium which therefore they shouldn’t insist on occupying illegally.” Ofwono Opondo said adding that just because they are poor should not be used as an excuse for wrongfully occupying such public places.
While Opondo conceded that there are weaknesses within government to implement policies, he was furious with some Ugandans including the Park yard vendors taking advantage of it by illegally occupying portions of public land and illegally claiming ownership years later.
Ofwono is supported by the former Lord Mayor of Kampala Haj Nasser Ntege Sebaggala who has taken the blame for admittedly opening up the embattled strip during his term to traders who had been displaced from different parts of the City albeit temporarily in conformity with his ‘ take -home -Kaveera’ campaign slogan.
“Back then, we urged traders who had no stalls in other markets to move to that place but with a clear message that their stay was only transitory, just to help them gain capacity to enable them move to better and gazetted work stations later on ,” said Ssebaggala.
“But I am very amazed that all that background is now lost and forgotten by a group of traders, deliberately to take over that place for keeps!” he added.
Renowned social critic and policy analyst Godber Tumushabe is one of those irked by Opondo’s view about the ruthless eviction of vendors.
“When government abdicates its responsibility for example in instances where Ugandans occupy places they shouldn’t occupy while the relevant authorities are just watching, it (government) should not come out and claim innocence,” Tumushabe stated.
Meanwhile, Opondo defended Kampala Minister Beti Kamya who is currently taking the beating over the eviction from various sections of Ugandans including MPs , Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and the media arguing that she is only an implementer of an action “sanctioned by the executive authority” referring to president Yoweri Museveni.
“This is not the first time the president has given. If this time round he as given out that Park yard strip to Ham Kiggundu for purposes of redeveloping Nakivubo stadium into a modern facility, so be it. Opondo said.
But the irony remains that government officials including Beti Kamya have remained tight-lipped on the contradiction that Ham Kiggundu is not seeking to restore the strip to its original parking function but instead to erect another shopping mall.