Tea nursery bed operators from Kabale, Rubanda, and Rukiga districts clashed with their leaders on Tuesday over issues of transparency and accountability. The leaders of tea nursery bed operators are currently in meetings with farmers from various districts, including Kabale, Rukungiri, Kanungu, Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukiga, Ntungamo, Mitoma, Mbarara, and Isingiro.
Their primary objective is to strategize on how to prevent members of parliament from the Parliamentary Committee on Commission’s Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) from proceeding with an investigation into Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi, a lawyer affiliated with Pathway Advocates. Katabaazi is facing accusations of misappropriating 39 billion Ugandan shillings received from the government through the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) meant to compensate affected tea farmers. The farmers are now demanding 79 billion shillings from the government.
Tensions escalated during a meeting held at Kabale District Council hall in Kabale district Tuesday when Frank Byaruhanga, the Chairperson of South Western Uganda Tea Nursery Bed Operators, alleged that the entire controversy surrounding Kiconco is driven by some political leaders in the Kigezi region who fear that once the money is paid, farmers will become financially empowered and potentially challenge them in the 2026 general elections.
However, the farmers expressed their dissatisfaction with Kiconco and Byaruhanga, citing a lack of transparency in the handling of funds. They also raised concerns about why the money was deposited into Kiconco’s personal account rather than the association’s account, which initiated the conflict. Some farmers reported not receiving their compensation, while others received less than they were entitled to.