By Hanning Mbabazi
Kasese: The fight over the cattle market at Mpondwe-Lubirha in Kasese District between Babughirana Butcher men Development Association and Alisamu Company Ltd brought concern to local leaders. These say, if the issue is not handled urgently it could escalate into more violence.
The said companies set up rival market places at the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border targeting control of cattle business with Congolese.
However, there were disagreements and conflict of interest resulting to fights. Security and intelligence agencies enforced a plan proposed by Lt Joe Walusimbi, the Kasese Resident District Commissioner (RDC).
According to the June 19 plan, Lt Walusimbi said that he was acting on the instructions of the Director General of Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Col Frank Kaka Bagyenda.
The RDC’s plan proposed that each of the rival companies would run the cattle market on a two-week rotation without interference from each other.
“Following several meetings held with the stakeholders of Babughirana Butchermen Development Association and Alisamu Company Ltd, acting on a directive of the Director General of ISO of which the two companies have copies, I wish to send to you the schedule of operation of the two markets,” Lt Walusimbi wrote to the Mpondwe Town Clerk.
Alisamu Company Ltd, operating at Mukwano grounds near the DRC border post was scheduled to run the market first from June 25 to July 5 and Babughirana Butchermen Development Association, based in Mpondwe Town Centre, would run it from July 5 to 19. Then the cycle would begin afresh.
In a May 5 letter attributed to Col Bagyenda, the RDC was ordered to come up with a schedule for “security reasons” following months of hostility between the two rival companies.
“You are hereby guided to harmonise the operations of both companies by; operating in shifts, protecting the cattle traders and ensuring that their business activities are legalised by the concerned relevant authorities in the area. That is to say, each company/market should operate on a two weeks’ schedule per month for security reasons,” read the letter attributed to Col Bagyenda.
But on June 23, two days before the enforcement date, Police deployed at Babughirana Butchermen Development Association’s cattle holding ground (market) where Congolese across the border to Kasese to buy and sell cattle from and to local traders
Police told local traders to drive their cattle trucks to Alisamu Holding Market of the rival company.
Resistance from the cattle traders triggered clashes with police, who fired live bullets and tear gas at the protesters resulting to shooting of two traders.
Police claimed they were implementing the orders of the RDC.
Mr Dan Benja, a cattle trader from Isingiro District, who was shot in a leg, and Mr Abdul Mutegeki, a worker at the local abattoir, were taken to hospital.
The hostility became an issue of contention during a meeting of Ministry of Local Government for all district local council (LC5) chairpersons and municipal council mayors at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Monday.