Ugandan traders took to the streets protesting against the influx of Chinese traders in the retail businesses.
The Wednesday protests were against what they term as "unfair competition" from the Chinese traders. Led by Kampala Mayor, Erias Lukwago, the traders protested with placards urging the Chinese traders to leave the country. The protests resulted into many shops being closed for hours.
The mayor who was accompanied by other council leaders warned the situation could escalate to xenophobic attacks against foreign traders if the government does not protect the local traders against the Chinese.
"We are likely to have xenophobia here. That’s where we are heading, unless they come up with measures to protect indigenous traders," The Mayor is quoted saying.
The traders are against the "petty" Chinese traders who they say enjoy tax reliefs, allowing them to sell their products at far lower prices. This is unlike their Ugandan counterparts who have to factor in taxes resulting in higher prices.
The traders now want the Chinese traders to invest in factories and production plants if they are interested in doing business in Uganda and to also leave the retail business sector.
One trader is quoted in Redpepper giving an example of viper venom tiles which the local traders sell at USh. 24,000 while the Chinese retail traders sell them at USh. 6,000 less for USh. 18,000.
The Ugandan authorities have termed the street protests illegal. The police spokesman Asan Kasingye said that Chinese merchants operating with valid licences will be protected.
Chinese traders have faced such protests elsewhere in Africa as they flood the local retail businesses following the heavy investment by the country in Africa. Similar protests took place in Kenya.
According to the local traders in the countries, the traders came to the country feigning to be large scale investors only to turn to retail business while enjoying the tax exempts.
The number of Chinese citizens caught in various countries without permits has fuelled the suspicion and animosity further. African countries are now being advised to come up with proper policies to protect their citizens.