Kakumiro police engage in running battles with protesting tobacco farmers

Kakumiro police today (Monday) engaged tobacco farmers in running battles after taking to the streets protesting government failure to pay their money as promised by President Yoweri Museveni.

Way back in 2019 during his “Africa Kwetu” tour to Birembo in Kakumiro district, President Museveni promised that government would pay the farmers for the tobacco leaves they sold to companies that later failed to meet their obligation.

Holding placards, the farmers walked through the streets of Kakumiro town chanting “We want our money.”

Led by the District Police Commander, ASP Twaha Buyinza, police swung into action to disperse the protesting farmers but in vain; despite threats to be arrested.

Audio: Police and protesters

Talking to the press, the farmers said that despite having waited for long for President Museveni to direct the relevant authorities to pay them as promised, it did not materialise; prompting them to demand for their money.

“Our demonstration is peaceful. We want to be paid our money. I am demanding Shs10m. We want to write a petition demanding our money. Time and again the authorities keep saying that they are working on the matter yet they aren’t. We are not armed but all we need is our money,” they demanded.

Audio: Protesting farmers (Runyoro/Rutooro)

Mr Godfrey Seruka, the chairman of the aggrieved tobacco farmers disclosed that different tobacco companies owe the farmers over Shs1b for the tobacco leaves they sold to them from 2018 to 2019.

“Nimatabac Uganda Ltd, Continental Tobacco Uganda Ltd and Leaf Tobacco & Commodities Ltd bought our tobacco leaves in 2018 and 2019 but paid us a small amount of money for which we have the receipts. From that time up to now, we are still demanding them. Premier did not pay us at all. It is against this that we ask government to fulfill the pledge that President Museveni made while at Birembo and pay us our money,” he said.

Audio: Seruka on payment (Runyoro/Rutooro)

Mr Apollo Mugume, the Resident District Commissioner, convened an ad lib meeting with the farmers and promised to handle the matter together with the line ministries of Bunyoro Affairs and Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

“I request you to be patient as the matter is handled together with the Ministry of Finance and that of Bunyoro Affairs. We shall exert more pressure to ensure that the matter is handled. We shall go on air and inform you as we wait for you to be paid.”

Audio: Seluka on payment (Runyankole Rukiga)


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