In the hey days of Kilembe Mines, Kyenjojo and MacGawn were exclusively whites-only areas for the residence of the mine’s senior management staff. My rendezvous was in Kyenjojo.
From Kasese Town centre, the asphalt road to Kyenjojo cut around the hills on the eastern bank of River Nyamwamba like an African boa constrictor. We passed by the late Gen James Kazini’s hotel thing standing sentinel, like a Roman centurion, to Kasese’s CBD.
One kilometre later, the immaculately manicured Kilembe Golf Course revealed itself to us; later giving way to the famous Hotel Margharita and its intemperate-climes themed expansive jardin.
But then I should not write this as some foreign journalist on his first assignment in Africa for I have been on this road for uncountable times. Only that this time I was on this road to treat with Gen Salim Saleh. Yes, that one.

Last Saturday, Gen Saleh’s aide called me to something he called multi-purpose hall. When I said I didn’t know where it was located, the aide ribbed me: How can someone ‘alleging’ that he is a Mukonzo fail to know where Kasese Multi-Purpose Hall is?
Anyway, the boda boda guy dropped me there only to land into a running workshop at the hall. The workshop or meeting was discussing a development programme initiated by Gen Saleh that could kick-start Kasese’s socio-economic transformation. In the meeting, it was revealed that about 40 tractors were on their way to Kasese.
But the poignancy of the meeting was captured in the location of Kasese Multi-Purpose Hall. Kasese Multi-Purpose Hall is on the premises of what used to be Kasese’s Tractor Hire Unit. That the availability of 40 tractors was being discussed in the premises of the ‘former’ (please mark the word ‘former’) tractor hire unit, was very telling.
The bushy surroundings of the hall and lack of water in the toilets would be another story.
I am not a sound engineer. But dear reader, have you been in a purpose-built hall with a ceiling furnished with smooth materials capable of bouncing sound and a ceramics-tiled floor? Dear Kasese leaders, please forgive my criticism...
The poor engineering aspects of Kasese’s Mulitiple Purpose Hall apart, Gen Saleh should be credited for the more than Shs100 billon ‘priced’ marshal plan. In our one-to-one meeting, I told Gen Saleh that what Kasese needed was water for production (irrigation). The rest like food security, agribusiness, agro-processing and agro-based industrial development would follow as a consequence of increased agriculture production.
Without the procurement of production water, agriculture mechanisation (the available tractors) would not be of any use (or we would be ‘wasting time’ as Gen Saleh is wont to say).
Another point Gen Saleh and I discussed (and disagreed) was his idea of ‘rewarding’ encroachers on Kilembe Mines land with titled ownership. My ‘forceful’ suggestion was that ‘we’ should evict them (outright) failure of which, we should turn their landholdings into 49-year lease titles at the expiry of which they would quit.
And Gen Saleh responded: What kind of government can evict more 1,000 people from lands they have occupied for more than 10 years? I surrendered; I don’t do politics, you know. My argument was that if ‘we’ allow illegal squatters any quarters on Kilembe Mines land, those on Uganda Railways land would be preparing for a party or land bonanza.

After our four-hour discussion, Gen Saleh said: It is like I am discovering Kasese. And I told him that his presence in Kasese seems to have inspired Kasese leaders to re-discover themselves. Everyone is looking forward to the implantation of the more than Shs100b priced marshal plan.