MASAKA. Women leaders in Masaka Municipality have opposed a plan by leaders to allegedly sell a plot of land on which their commercial building sits.
The Masaka Town officials, however, deny the claim. The building at the centre of controversy is located on Plot 9, Edward Avenue in Masaka Town.
It houses Masaka resource centre, municipal public library, a craft shop and some restaurants.
The women leaders say they acquired the building in the early 1990s using funds given to them by a team of women leaders from Yellowknife City in Canada.
The women recently met Masaka Town officials to resolve the issue.
“It is very hurting to hear this but we should remain united and fight together if we are to defend our rights,” Mr Jane Mary Luwukya, a former municipal councillor, said at the meeting.
Ms Resty Mwanje, a councillor representing Buwunga Sub-county, Masaka District said: “We demand that Masaka Municipal Council leaders meet women leaders first and explain why they want to dispose of our building.”
“It is true that the building is dilapidated, but that does not mandate any authority to sideline the owners in the disguise of developing the town,” Ms Mwanje added.
Ms Olivia Kasimaggwa, who was a Masaka Municipality councillor at the time when the women acquired the building, said they possess documents to prove ownership of the land and vowed to take the matter to court. “We request the National Association of Women Organisations in Uganda (Nawou) to intervene before these politicians overpower us and grab our building,” Ms Kasimaggwa said.
Ms Josephine Najjumba, the Masaka Municipal council secretary for gender, who represented Masaka Municipality mayor Godfrey Kayemba Afaayo at the meeting recently, urged the women to remain calm, saying the council has no plans to deprive them of their property.
“The mayor requests that you choose among yourselves some leaders who will meet him and his technical team at a given time to discuss issues about that building,” Ms Najjumba told the meeting.
Ms Najjumba said the building is dilapidated and has been marked for demolition.
Ms Apolonia Mugumbya, the vice chairperson of Nawou, advised women to adhere to the mayor’s advice and work hand-in-hand with the municipal council to ensure that their issue is addressed.
“I advise my fellow women in Masaka to be calm while handling this matter because it is sensitive,” Ms Mugumbya said, adding, “As Nawou, we are closely following this matter and I am sure we shall win.”
Mr Kayemba revealed to this reporter last Wednesday that there is a plan to build Masaka shopping mall in Masaka Town and after its completion, the council will get some space and give it to the women as compensation of their building.
However, it is not clear when the construction will start.
Ms Irene Nanyunja, the coordinator of Nawou in Masaka, said they don’t have such an arrangement with the owner of the proposed shopping mall but if it is proposed to them, everything should be done legally.
Daily Monitor has learnt that Masaka Municipality agreed with the owner of the proposed shopping mall that when it is complete, one floor will be given to the municipality and that is where they want to give a portion to the women.