On November 2008, President Museveni wrote to then Attorney General Kidhu Makubuya querying the manner in which the then Kampala City Council (KCC) was selling markets at the expense of the urban poor vendors. He noted that the practice of selling markets to rich investors was against the principle of empowering the poor people.
He directed that government should evaluate and compensate the developer of Kisekka market, Rhino Investment to whom the land had been leased by KCC, the predecessor of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
The President directed the Attorney General to “liaise with the with the Minister of Local government, KCC, RDC-Kampala to help them form one legal entity to undertake the management and development of the market.”
Subsequently, the president in 2009 directed KCC to cancel the lease for the 3.7 acres of land it had granted to Col John Mugyenyi, the proprietor of Rhino Investments, over Kisekka Market in Kampala. The directive followed a violent demonstration by vendors who protested the sale of the land they were operating on.
Mr Museveni ordered that Col Mugyenyi be compensated with Shs14.9b to surrender the lease title back to KCC and he accepted. Kisekka is a commercial hub synonymous with the sale of car spare parts. The land is located on Plot 9A 1 Kyaggwe Road.
The vendors, based on the advice of the President, formed Nakivubo Road Old Kampala (Kisekka) Market Vendors Limited with 1,888 members, which they registered as a company limited by guarantee.
The registered members were representing the more than 2,000 vendors and on October 25, 2011, KCCA gave them a five-year initial sub-lease up to August 20, 2016.
One of the conditions which KCCA gave the vendors was to construct new structures within five years and fulfill all the construction requirements so their lease could be extended to 49 years. On December 22, 2014, Mr Robert Kasoro, the market chairperson at the time, demolished it against the court order which vendors had obtained to block the demolition.
They had requested that the market be demolished in phases because they did not have another place to relocate but their plea was allegedly rejected by Mr Kasoro.
However, upon expiry of their initial sub-lease in August, they pleaded with KCCA for an extension of five years to complete the construction of the market.
On 2016, KCCA renewed their lease until April 30, 2021 when a renewable 49 year lease will be given.
However, a faction of the market vendors led by Mr Geoffrey Kayita broke away from Mr Kasoro’s management. They accused him of alleged incompetence and mismanagement of the company funds.
They later held an annual general meeting on February 7 2015 and unanimously voted out Mr Kasoro from managing the affairs of Kisekka market. The meeting elected Mr Kayita as the new chairperson of the market.
However Mr Kasoro petitioned the Uganda Registration Services Bureau saying he was voted out of office in his absence. His committee then signed an agreement with ROKO Construction Company on March 9 2015.
But the Kayita-led faction protested ROKO’s agreement, arguing that it was illegally signed since Mr Kasoro had been kicked out of office.
They instead contracted Capital Ventures International Ltd to start construction. However, it was allegedly frustrated by Mr Kasoro’s team.
In an interview with Saturday Monitor, Mr Kasoro argued that the meeting that kicked him out of office never gave his executive an opportunity to defend themselves.
“What I know is that we are still the true executive of Kisekka Market and we shall continue with the construction works. Those people are fighting this project because they don’t have money to pay for shops and because we disagreed with them on management, that’s why they decided to fight us,” he said.
On April 21, Mercy Kyomugasho Kainobwisho wrote on behalf of the Regisrar URSB and noted that the extra ordinary meeting led by Mr Kayita which kicked out Mr Kasoro from the management of the market was null and void.
“…the resolutions and forms signed by Kayita Geoffrey and Rwakijuma Simon Peter appointing themselves and others as new directors didn’t satisfy the legal requirements and as such, be disregarded,” she wrote.
Mr Kainobwisho ordered that an Annual General meeting be held with the aim of to resolve the outstanding matters in the company within 21 days and the resolutions be filed with the Registrar of companies.
However, Mr Kasoro allegedly refused to convene the meeting as directed, forcing Mr Kayita to convene another meeting.
Although it again resolved to kick out the old executive led by Mr Kasoro, their resolutions weren’t certified by URSB.
They protested and sued URSB alongside Mr Kasoro for peddling in their affairs of the market, opening a court battle between two factions of vendors and the Registration Company.
According to the report on the construction Bids Evaluation Committee of Mr Kasoro’s team dated December 15, 2016 a copy of which this newspaper has seen, a seven- member construction bids committee was appointed to oversee the tender process for the pre-qualification construction works and financing for the redevelopment of the Market.
Although this committee was supposed to be approved by all the vendors, Mr Kasoro defended the appointment, saying that the decision was agreed upon by the executive, a claim vendors have since protested.
The members are Peter Mukasa, Fredrick Batte, Simon Peter Lubwama, Yusuf Wangi, Faridah Magandazi, Hadijah Nalubwama and Godfrey Jjooga Ssebukalu. Mr Robert Kisembo was co-opted as an ex-officio.
Mr Mukasa was appointed Chairperson of the committee while Mr Jjooga was appointed Secretary.
Documents that were presented to court show that since the redevelopment of the Market commenced, members on the construction committee have since booked multiple shops, something vendors say, is against the presidential directive of one stall, one vendor.
Our information shows that a 10-square mile shop at the new market, whose construction is still underway, goes for $ 14,000 (Shs 50m) a fee which majority of the vendors has protested as ‘exorbitant’.
When Ms Persis Namuganza, the state Minister for Lands visited the market and halted the disputed construction of the market in November last year, Mr Kasoro vowed to sue her.
“The redevelopment should be stopped until government resolves the impasse surrounding management of this market,” she said by then.
Mr Kasoro argued that the Minister’s directive was out of order because the construction works were being done legally.
The vendors had petitioned the Minister that they had been kicked out of the market which the president donated to them.
Mr Kayita told Saturday Monitor in an interview that it’s unfair that for a committee of about 30 people to take over the whole project which should ideally benefit the 2,000 members who formed the company as per the president’s directive.
“We paid our money but we have since been pushed out by Kasoro because he gave out all shops to the rich from Kikuubo yet they are not members of the company. We can’t allow this happen,” he said.
But Mr Kasoro said that shops were given out to non-members because some vendors, to which Mr Kayita belongs, refused to pay.
“Its true people have more than one shop because they have paid their money and we can’t be held back because we need to have the market completed. Let those people come back because we are ready to work with them but if they think we shall just give them shops without paying, then they are mistaken,” he said.
Mr Kasoro explained that the Shs 25m and Shs 50m depending on the size while stalls range from Shs 9m to Shs 25m.
Of the 3.7 acres, Kasoro’s team has redeveloped at least 1.2 acres and the 2.5 acres are still intact. All the 2500 shops on Block A and B of the redeveloped part, Mr Kasoro said, are sold out.
For now, both factions of vendors are claiming management of the market. The protracted battles between the two factions have stalled the redevelopment of the facility.
As the poor vendors warm to regain their shops, the rich are continuing to buy as many shops as they can, casting a pale picture on the management of the facility.
On August 18 this year, Justice Lydia Mugambe ruled that Mr Kayita should hold an annual general meeting of all the original members of the market to address the key issues that had plagued the facility.
Justice Mugambe also asked URSB to stop meddling in the affairs of Kisekka market because it would show a conflict of interest yet they are supposed to be a neutral body.
Her ruling followed a petition by a faction of vendors led by Mr Kayita, challenging the leadership of Mr Kasoro whom they accused of holding the office illegally yet traders had kicked him out of management on February 25 2015 over ‘incompetence’.
Following Justice Mugambe’s ruling, Mr Kasoro petitioned the High court execution and bailiffs division to stay put her ruling until he files an application in Court of Appeal.
However, Justice Christopher Madrama Izama on October 25 maintained the same ruling by Justice Mugambe which had directed that Mr Kayita should hold an annual general meeting.
On November 23, Mr Kayita convened an Annual General meeting as directed. The meeting unanimously kicked out Mr Kasoro.
“We have already appealed because the meeting was held by less people. We can’t just surrender the project to them yet we have invested there our money. We are still the leaders of that market,” Mr Kasoro said in reaction.
But Mr Peter Rwakijuma, one of the vendors who also double as the secretary of the faction that kicked out Mr Kasoro, said they are now looking for investors to redevelop the 2.5 acres of land which haven’t been redeveloped.
Ms Joweria Nanteza, a former vendor of Kisekka market, said: “We paid our money but we were kicked out because we couldn’t afford the exhorbitant prices. I am happy that I will get my shop back because this land was donated to us by the president.
Mr Kasoro has vowed to fight on. He also said that the land ceased to be public land since they paid money for the lease and premium to KCCA.
Ms Beti Kamya, the Minister for Kampala acknowledged the impasse in Kisekka market but said that court will sort out everything. However, she noted that the land on which the market sits was donated by the president following the vendors’ outcry.
“There is a court order that was issued by the High Court directing that an annual general meeting should be held to address the Kisekka market traders concerns. However, we have since realised that it’s being misinterpreted by both factions. We are waiting for court’s decision,” she said.