By Joel Isabirye
I have just heard hon. Paulson Lutamaguzi on nbs eagle say Balaam’s investments in South Sudan are got from taxpayers money in Uganda.he argues, why doesn’t Abitex who has also been doing concerts not have those kind of investments.he says he was in school with Balaam so he knows he cannot have the money to put in the investments that he sees.
Perhaps to enlighten Lutamaguzi, concerts are only one of many things that Balaam has been doing since he was in secondary school. he has been involved in the beverage sector.there is a coca cola distribution point at national theatre run by Balaam and which brings hundreds of millions of shillings every month.
He has been distributing spirits from Uganda breweries in South Sudan, i think starting after the comprehensive peace agreement (cpa) in 2005.if you deal in spirits large scale, you get to learn that there is a thousand times more money in that business than concerts.although the seed for that distribution business emerged from his concerts in the early to mid 2000s.His first entry was shortly after a massively successful concert he held with Juliana Kanyomozi here.
I remember receiving calls from Balaam in South Sudan asking if his adverts for concerts were running on the radio stations.he went to south sudan when it was just emerging from war.a very challenging phase of its history.
After South Sudan got independence, Balaam managed to secure the distribution rights for mtn South Sudan.that was a very big contract but equally challenging, because for example, south sudan has very few major roads. he was responsible for distributing airtime, throughout South Sudan, and he added low cost mobile phone sets to that business.he supplemented this by taking drive trucks for promotions in the country, which were hired by the telecom companies at the time.he had about 500 people moving daily pushing airtime and phones.supposing each brought the equivalent of ugx 100,000 only per day, what would that amount to?
At the same time, because many South Sudanese love a life of luxury, Balaam went into an executive car hire business.he was hiring over 100 cars to different people and organizations who wanted them.
He also set up a bus park.few may know that he is one of the owners of the bus park in sirkat juba where Ugandan buses park.
Every day heavy duty trucks from Balaam enter South Sudan taking commodities and beverages.
he also did a hotel at some point and some general trading stores, supplying goods to the country.he also set up buildings that mtn South Sudan hires for its offices.basically a mixture of things.
Over time he went into radio in the country, although its economic crisis and the conflict affected some of the businesses.
So to wake up and say, he has got money from government, is lazy thinking.
From my knowledge, Balaam first got involved with nrm in a large scale in 2015 as the build up to the 2016 elections was taking place. i thought that the involvement was accidental and it was largely because many musicians had been drafted, and there needed to be a well coordinated way of driving the music along the campaign.then he offered promotion services too to the campaign. but before, he was close to members of parliament like Nuru Byamukama, Richard Todwong, Dan kidega etc, who used to request him to organize for them events in their constituencies.
I was in Balaam in South Sudan when he said he needed to rush back to manage his publicity contract with electoral commission.he was doing civic education awareness campaigns for the commission.something he had also done in 2011.
He set up the water factory towards the end of 2014 and the building to house the radio station early 2015.was that tax payers money?
I was skeptical about the political situation in South Sudan and asked Balaam why he was sinking all that money when it had not stabilized.he argued that it was a virgin place where you had to enter before it became super competitive.and he did just that.
Like we always say…wealth is created by managing your expenditure…when you make money, save and invest, you multiply that money…that’s exactly what Balaam did.
Whatever he would make here and in Sudan, he was investing…putting up real estate…forex bureaus, fixed deposits in banks etc…when crane bank closed, an audit report shows that Balaam had billions of shillings in fixed deposits in the bank.and i had been seeing Balaam at crane bank since around 2006.he appears to have been their long time depositing customer.
The average Ugandan would instead have a good time…then after accuse others of having made money from government.
He kept his promotion business and has been doing field work for airtel and mtn in Uganda and also health promotion for uhmg…he has been importing and selling cars and a lot of other things from the middle east starting before 2010.he also began exporting cassava to Ukraine…he set up his sound and events system…and so many things.
IS THAT GOVERNMENT MONEY?
Note: it is not a problem trading with government either or being a government employee.so if Balaam today supplies sound to the end of year party of ministry of health, is that a problem?
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