Although some have described the Monday morning eviction of vendors from Park Yard market as brutal, minister for Kampala, Beti Olive Kamya who ordered the eviction said, it was the proudest thing to do and wants parliament to give her a “handshake”.
Presenting a ministerial statement in Parliament on Wednesday, the Minister had tactfully refused to read out the part that asks Parliament to reward her for her actions but Kasilo MP, Elijah Okupa, put her on a point of order and read out the part the minister had skipped.
“It is a resounding mission for which Parliament deserves to give me a handshake,” the statement read.
When the Speaker asked her to clarify whether she was actually asking for a “golden handshake”, Ms Kamya smiled and confirmed.
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“It is a choice of Parliament to reward,” she said.
The “golden handshake” mantra was picked from the language the URA Commissioner General, Rose Akol, used when justifying the shs6B that government gave to officials who were involved in arguing government in the oil arbitration case with Heritage.
In the early morning hours of Monday, 5000 vendors in Park Yard Market had their property destroyed and stalls razed when KCCA and police operatives forcefully threw them off the 1.5 acre piece of land adjacent to Nakivubo stadium which has been serving as a market.
Ms Kamya said the Ping-Pong between the vendors and the Nakivubo war veterans who own Nakivubo and Park yard has been on-going for 20 years because politicians always failed to act. She said Park Yard is supposed to serve as parking area for the stadium and that she had to call the hit to put an end to the two decade flip-flopping and allow for sports development to take precedence.
“I am proud that we have successfully brought to end a twenty year old dispute and we relocated over 5000 people without teargas, without a gun shot.
“I am very glad that the park yard market that I saw in the middle of a city has now been brought down and that Nakivubo can now be development in an ultra-modern facility we all deserve,” she said.
She further said, “All is calm in Park Yard market except for the media who need news and for the politicians who need attention. There are a few skirmishes but in all societies and countries from time immemorial. History is littered with examples of people who will always resist change.”
As a caution to politicians she said that it is possible to have the Kampala we want in a short time but only when we remove politics and concentrate on that which will help take us there.
However, MPs representing Kampala counties disagreed with her actions.
“The minister should have ensured that the time frame given to people to relocate is enough for them to relocate in an orderly manner. The people we are protecting are not from Kawempe. They are from Kamuli, Iganga and everywhere,” said Mr Abdulatif Sebagala (DP, Kawempe North).
In her statement, Ms Kamya had said the late Sunday night eviction, before the 30 day notice could elapse, was because she had confirmed word that a group of “sharp vendors” were going to secure a court order on Monday to stop the relocation.
Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante said it is foolhardy for a minister to fear court orders.
“The habit of fearing court orders and hiding from court cannot be entertained. We can only challenge the court order. That an investor was even spying on court and convenes a meeting with leaders of vendors and carries out eviction at night is not right,” he said.
Masaka Municipality MP, Mpuuga Mathias, said the minister’s report to the House was indictment on her knowledge on the working of government.
“That she chose to give up on the common Uganda in favour of capitalists is sad. She will tell Ugandans whether she knows that t is her duty that when there are Ugandans suffering it’s her role to take them to a lawful place to eke out a living,” he said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ordered before pronounces itself on the way forward on the evictions, the Prime Minister tables a treasury memorandum detailing the decisions cabinet took in regards to the recommendations Parliament made when it investigated the issues surrounding Park Yard Market in 2015.