By Deo Musoke
The family of President Yoweri Museveni has just been stymied by angry locals when plans by Natasha, the president’s daughter – to evict hundreds of people from their homes in Lusanja, Wakiso District failed.
On 16 this month, residents of Lusanja were up in arms after soldiers sent by Museveni’s younger brother Gen Salim Saleh (aka Caleb Akandwanaho) evicted over 70 families on a 9.6 acre tract of land, destroying 350 houses and leaving many homeless, in tears, and angry.
The plan was to fool the residents into believing that the evictions had been carried out on behalf of one Kiconco Medard. It didn’t work out as smoothly as planned as the residents instead turned angry that the president and were playing them for fools; remaining adamant that the real actor behind Kiconco was Salim Saleh.
A source with knowledge of the saga has revealed a less known fact of the attempt to steal Lusanja land from its residents: First Daughter Natasha was the intended beneficiary of the aborted land grab; she did all the preliminary reconnaissance in the area, identifying the land she desired for herself, giving the hush money to buy silence, before her father came to ice the cake with the by deploying military force and intimidation to dispossess the residents.
With matters boiling out of control, Museveni – fearing further riots by angry Ugandans, which he cannot keep putting down with “enkoni” (cattle whips) squads and similar violence – decided to visit the affected area in the hope of pacifying the furious villagers.
The Sekanyonyi Zone LC1 Chairman Fred Kanyike, addressing Museveni in front of many irate residents, told the president in no uncertain terms that the author of their misery was none other than his younger brother Salim Saleh.
“Only Salim Saleh can have ordered the evictions, only Saleh has the power to send soldiers here to demolish houses” said the visibly emotional chairman. “We want our land which we have been living on since the late eighties and early nineties, that is all, nothing else!”
Museveni didn’t correct the angry residents that the land was actually supposed to be taken by Natasha; he sought to protect her by resorting to his usual katemba (theatrics). He made an exaggerated call for his cell phone, dramatically pretending to call Saleh in order to “take him to task if what the people said was true.” Video of Museveni with his phone gimmickry provoked ridicule the following day on social media, especially on Twitter.
“Now Bosiko is pretending that he is talking to Saleh, hahaha, we know you Jjajja, you talked to no one!” was one of the comments. “Bosiko” and “Jjajja” are two of the many nicknames used by young people these days to mock Museveni; it’s used as ‘payment in kind’ for the way he condescendingly refers to them as his ‘bazukulu’ (grandkids, in the process implying they are immature).
The efforts for the First Family to dispossess the land from the residents was dressed up in the guise of “wealth creation.” However, the residents quickly got wind that Kiconco was in fact a mere front being used under the cover of Saleh’s “Operation Wealth Creation” to carry out the evictions using the military to scare them.
“They used to steal openly. But these days whenever they try to they run into resistance from their intended victims, which has Museveni desperately backtracking,” he added.
After his theatrical “phone call” with Saleh, Museveni told the angry residents, “I came down as a resistance fighter, to fight on your side.” But it was all too clear from the angry expressions and their responses that the residents found his attempts ridiculous. The president then offered support in the form of shelter only to leave the residents with four tents to house more than 500 people made homeless by his daughter’s land-grab.
Most of the victims felt the president had come to mock them, with many of them saying his visit had been of no value, “he did not offer any solutions and was unwilling to punish the culprits,” said an angry resident. “If he can’t even fulfil the promises he made in broad daylight yesterday, let him hand over to Kyagulanyi,” said another resident.
Museveni sought to protect Natasha by invoking Saleh because the latter, in addition to being the president’s brother, is also a well-known mafia operative, and the mastermind in so many dirty deals, including massive land grabs across the country, with his most recent exploits being in northern Uganda.
Saleh’s thieving career is legendary. Anyone with a little time and access to an Internet link may Google things like: junk choppers, UCB sale, Congo mineral deals, to mention just a few incidents that give a picture of the man’s corruption.
The entry of Natasha into land grabbing is yet more proof that Museveni’s family is suffering from the acute looting and grabbing disease. The thieving is done with Museveni’s knowledge and his “unconditional love” for members of his family whose appetite is obviously insatiable given all that they have already grabbed from both public resources and private citizens in the past 32 years.
Most importantly, this unconditional love of family comes at the cost of what appears like unconditional contempt for the people of Uganda.
“It was Natasha’s plan from the get go, uncle and daddy only came in to grant the wishes of a child from a family with an insatiable appetite,” said a source with knowledge of the plan to dispossess the poor residents of Lusanja.
She must have been inspired by her father, who famously told the veteran Kenyan journalist Jeff Koinange during an interview in November 2015 on K24 Television, “I’m working for myself. I’m not working for other people. I’m working for my children, for my grandchildren.”
Those who thought they hadn’t heard him correctly had another opportunity when during a press conference last month (September) Museveni doubled down on his ruling philosophy, “I have planned at a personal level for your sisters and brothers (his kids) who stay in my house, that’s why you don’t see my daughters looking for jobs, they all finished with their education,; they are busy with their wealth.”
The moral of the story is that never ever doubt it when someone tells you that they are only interested in looking out for themselves. It might have taken us a while – all of 32 years – but we Ugandans, through the painful experience of the residents of Lusanja, now know the real nature of our First Family. We know who is taking our land. We are all Lusanja residents.
This article was originally published by “The watchman” blog