Museveni should sort confusion in Kasese’s cattle export to DRC

Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

...with a very stringent Congolese export trade regime, why is this particular company not willing to sell cattle in the conducive environment on the Ugandan side?

On Wednesday December 29, 2021, a Permanent Secretary (whose office is located in the city centre) had a phone conversation with a soldier. For fear of being accused of  ‘fieldcraft’ (espionage), we should be allowed to withhold the identity of the soldier and that of the PS.

 The previous day (December 28, 2021), a meeting of the top guns in Kasese had been convened to look into the matter of cattle exports to the DR Congo. Although I am not familiar with the resolutions from this meeting, it is my informed guess that the resolutions may have triggered the PS’s phone conversation with the soldier.

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Mr Kwezi Tabaro, from The East African called to pick my mind on UPDF’s operations in the DR Congo. I told him the bigger story is yet to manifest. The story will be “how Ugandan authorities handle the trade dividends from the co-operation of the two countries”. I also told him about Kasese’s cattle export to the DRC via Mpondwe Border Post.

He wondered whether Kasese had the volumes of cattle export I was talking about. Animals exported via Mpondwe come from all over western Uganda. And needless to say, the most competitive business at Mpondwe Border Post is cattle exports to the DR Congo. So, lucrative that competition has lead to deaths (in a typical Ugandan way).

Before the lockdown, the arrangement was that there would be two sides of the border market: One on the Congolese side and the other on Ugandan side. Congolese would cross into Uganda unencumbered to buy stuff from the Ugandan side (and vice versa).

When Ugandan authorities declared a lockdown, DR Congo remained open. Whereas Congolese were not allowed in the Ugandan traders took their cattle to the Congolese side of the market (as exports). They have been doing that till Uganda ended the lockdown.

Now, authorities in Kasese would like the trade arrangement to go back to the pre-lockdown time to wit: Congolese should come to Uganda to buy cattle (and other stuff) and Ugandans cross to the Congolese side to buy stuff. There is a general consensus by the authorities and cattle traders that Congolese should buy cattle from the Ugandan side. Except one company rumoured to be associated with a senior military official or and cabinet minister. Export of cattle to the DRC would deny the Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town Council revenue.

The Congolese have a stringent regime on Ugandan exporters. At $50, their entry visa is high and they don’t allow Ugandans to carry Ugandan Currency. Ugandan traders are not allowed to carry out cash transactions above $3,500. Beyond $3,500 mark, all transactions are carried out in Congolese financial systems like banks and international money transfer agencies like Western Union. All those come at a cost on the profit margins of Ugandan traders.

And needless to say, all those regulations are enforced and flouting any of them carries the risk of losing everything and imprisonment. In fact, Ugandans now accept that the Congolese state is more organised and structured than previously thought.

And then you ask; with a very stringent Congolese export trade regime, why is this particular company not willing to sell cattle in the conducive environment on the Ugandan side? Some people with an eye on security say this particular company could be dealing in stolen cattle. And that the earlier their animals cross to the DRC the better.

And why am I calling in Mr Museveni on such a small matter? Because Kasese authorities seem to have failed; and the soldier associated with this company is a cabinet minister.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]

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