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Battle For Supremacy At Vision Group As Bukedde News Editor Fires His Deputy’s ‘Diehard’ Reporters

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All is not well at Robert Kabushenga’s Vision Group premises especially Bukedde Newspaper newsroom.

According to multiple sources from the industrial area based printing and publishing house, the war is between Bukedde news editor Ssalongo Richard Kayira and his deputy Semei Wesaali.

Sources told the Grapevine that the silent war erupted when Kayira, the head of the news room published an internal memo with a list of news reporters fired from Bukedde newspaper.  According to sources, Kayira also ordered the security at the gate not to allow the journalists on the list to enter the company premises.

“The list was published but they did not inform us that we were going to be fired,” one of the journalists on the list complained.

The affected journalists petitioned their boss Godfrey Kulubya the head of all the local newspapers at Vision Group.  In their petition, the over 50 reporters told Kulubya that the list is discriminative.

‘The list targeted some individuals because they are diehards to editor Semei Wesaali. Kayira thinks that they are helping him take his position,” one of the reporters who petitioned Kulubya stated. They further explained to Kulubya that there are names of people which were left out yet they are poor performers when compared to some of the people on the list, they even cited some names.

Kulubya was told that most of the journalists left out were working under Kayira in his new DGF project.

On Monday this week, Kulubya called an emergency meeting in Bukedde new room and asked for a written explanation from Kayira why he fired staff without his knowledge or that of the Chief Executive Officer Robert Kabushenga.  Kulubya denounced the list and asked the journalists in the meeting to tell their friends who were fired to come back and work with immediate effect.

“For your information the competition is high so you cannot start firing staff, if it is necessary, let us follow the necessary procedures,” Kulubya was quoted telling the newsroom.

Kulubya further told the meeting that they have plans of laying off a number of reporters so that they can remain with a few competitive ones.

Sources told this website that Vision group bosses are trying to set up new rules where journalists multi task for the various platforms.

According to the new plan, a journalist, when assigned to cover a story, is supposed to file it for New Vision newspaper, Bukedde newspaper, Bukedde radio and Bukedde TV.

When the news about the new plan fell in the ears of reporters, some panicked and bought video cameras and recorders to quickly adapt to the new rules.

When the Grapevine talked to some of the reporters who were not on the list, they disclosed that the journalists who were fired are lazy and don’t want to work. They are just using Bukedde newspaper as an address to extort money from the public.  

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KIWANUKA FAMILY WOES: Mukwano Group Moves To Buy Mohan Kiwanuka’s Grave Yard, His Oscar Industries Struggling As Over 400 Workers Are Set To Lose Jobs, Some Family Members Cut Off From Speaking To The Old Man

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All isn’t well in tycoon Mohan Kiwanuka’s family as some of his close relatives move to oppose the efforts by the Mukwano Group to buy Kiwatule land that works as the burial grounds for the entire family. Even though he hails from Kayunga District in Bugerere, Mohan Kiwanuka sometime back bought 80 acres of land from his neighours and turned it into a burial ground for members of his extended family.

The land has a few squatters who are loyal and obedient to Mohan Kiwanuka. The Kiwanuka family has a care taker who keeps the land to ensure it’s not encroached upon by illegal squatters. This caretaker has stayed there for a long time and has been allowed to so far bury three of his own relatives there. On the other side of the land are three graves of Kiwanuka’s family members including his own mother who died aged 92 in 2017 and was buried there. Even Kiwanuka himself will be buried there the day he dies. 

Kiwanuka with one of his family lawyer Buwule

But some family members are uncomfortable that power brokers and real estate brokers who have been participating in the selling off of his properties have recently approached Mukwano Group calling on them to purchase the Kiwatule land so that Mohan can bank the cash on his foreign bank accounts in Dubai and Doha/Qatar where some influential advisors are pressurizing him to relocate all his businesses and leave Uganda because it’s economy isn’t doing well.  

Besides arguing that it’s not right to sell burial grounds, some family members and concerned Mohan Kiwanuka friends have been pleading with Mukwano Group managers not to dare buy the Kiwatule land because the price at which it’s being offered to them is too low. 

There are also concerns that even other Kiwanuka properties haven’t been sold at good price. For example, his plot in the center of Wandegeya near the banks was sold recently at just USD250,000 yet Dr. Sudhir had years earlier wanted to buy it at USD2M. Kiwanuka had bought that Wandegeya land to put up a modern cinema complex targeting Makerere students as the potential market. 

Part of Kiwanuka’s land for sell

Then in Kololo along Elizabeth Avenue, another Mohan Kiwanuka piece of land on the hill was sold to Sophie Nantongo of African Queen cosmetics at just USD1m yet a wealthy Indian tycoon had years earlier offered USD4m for the same plot because it’s on a good location on the hill. There are concerns among family members that Mohan Kiwanuka is in a frail state being an old man and therefore needs strong advisors around him. 

Already his 40 white expatriate tenants at his large estate on Kololo hill near his friend BoU Governor Mutebile’s home are complaining that their land lord isn’t treating them well because everyday he keeps forgetting and coming to them to ask for rent yet they paid for 5 years when they were entering the apartments. Each of the 40 apartments is charged USD700 per month and the tenants say once he renovates them, they are ready to pay USD1500 per month.

Oscar industries premises

There are also concerns that the Oscar Industries based in Nakawa is being inspected by real estate agents who keep telling Indian tycoons in town that it will soon be put on the market because Mohan Kiwanuka badly needs the money. It is located on Plot 218 Factory Close in Nakawa Industrial Area. In fact, as we talk, the more than 650 youths who used to work there as factory workers are jobless after management fired them. This has left many of the users of Oscar Industries products stranded because there is no more production of the books and other office stationery. In fact, when our reporter visited the Nakawa factory, we found it was locked with only four security guards on site. They were guarding the gate and didn’t allow us in. We had wanted to interview tycoon Mohan Kiwanuka but the security guards said he hadn’t been coming for more than a week. We also tried to the factory phone lines 0414505646 (it did not exist on the network) and 0414220084 (not in service), we even went online to check the number 031 2260640, which they put as the company’s contact, when we called on it, it was not available. We were later told by the security guards that the lines had been disconnected since there is no more operations at the factory.

We also got at the gate some guys who said they had come to place their orders for the books but they too were chased by the security guards. One Indian tycoon said he had been approached by land brokers to prepare to put in his bid for the Kiwatule burial ground but pulled out after being told there was too much wrangling regarding the Mohan estate and risked losing his money in case one of the children or family members who have shares in the companies go to court in future to challenge the transaction. 

By closing the Nakawa factory, Mohan is losing a lot of money yet he also has two debts with Commercial Bank of Africa and DFCU bank where his youngest daughter works. There are also concerns as to why Mohan recently declined a USD4m deal Total Uganda was offering to complete his 100 apartment houses on Ridge Way Kololo hill. He had put up these ones for CHOGM conference in 2007 but pulled out after government officials asked for Shs8bn out of the Shs10bn he was to be paid to house CHOGM guests. By that time, Mohan had already invested USD5m but abandoned the houses uncompleted. 

The letter that Kiwanuka wrote to the Germany embassy asking for visas for his wife and children to attend his daughter Jordana Pearl Kiwanuka’s wedding

That’s why Total Uganda recently came to him saying they are ready to invest USD4m to complete the houses but the tycoon from Kayunga Bugerere refused saying these are thieves wanting to steal his Ridge Way estate. All these business mistakes have caused many family members to be annoyed and begin saying whoever takes advantage of the man’s old age to buy his family property cheaply will pay back/vomit it in future. 

Kiwanuka’s marriage certificate

Some family members want President Museveni or the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II to intervene to save Kiwanuka’s riches from being grabbed by smart city Indian tycoons taking advantage of his old age and the wars raging in his family. Some family members, including senior wife Beatrice Luyiga Kavuma whom he recommended for a visa in 2017 introducing her as his sweetest wife to the German embassy, are fearful that Mohan Kiwanuka is too withdrawn these days and not easy to access. Some family members say they last accessed him in May and others like his children say they have taken two years without accessing him.

Some family members told the Grapevine that each time they ring, Mohan Kiwanuka’s phone is picked by a tough-talking lady who just abuses them advising them never to call him again. The woman can quarrel while asking ” why don’t you allow the old man to rest?” That even at his office before the Nakawa Oscar factory was closed, Kiwanuka wasn’t free to meet his children, other relatives and wife because he must first get permission from the woman who keeps answering his phone calls on his behalf.

The Grapevine tried to talk to some of Kiwanuka’s family members and wife Kiwanuka but they were not accessible.

By Grapevine Reporter

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NOT OVER YET: Bank Of Uganda Files Notice Of Appeal Challenging Judge Wangutusi’s Judgment, They Want Sudhir To Vomit Shs397 Billion..

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BOU Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Sudhir Ruparelia

The Central Bank through their lawyers of Byamugisha and company Advocates have filed a notice of appeal in the court of appeal challenging High Court commercial division judge David Wangutusi‘s judgment to recover over 100 million dollars (Shs397 billion) from tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera  Investment Limited. 

On Monday, The Head of Commercial Court, David Wangutusi dismissed a case in which Bank of Uganda (BoU) Sudhir Ruparelia for allegedly fleecing his own bank (Crane Bank in receivership) of Shs397 billion in fraudulent transactions. The Central Bank was seeking to recover the Shs397bn.

Wangutusi also ordered BoU to pay Sudhir’s legal costs. In his ruling, Wangutusi observed that Crane Bank in receivership at the time of instituting the commercial suit against the businessman and his Meera Investments Company, was none existent, hence never had powers to sue.

Wangutusi added that Bank of Uganda lacked legal basis to sue Sudhir for allegedly transferring sums money from the internal accounts of the defunct Crane Bank which were not mapped on the financial institution’s balance sheet.  BOU claims that the learned judge errored when he dismissed their suit because there was credible evidence that Sudhir withdrew 80,000,000 dollars from Crane Bank as payments to persons, companies and entities for Sudhir’s benefits. 

 The central bank further claims that Sudhir withdraw Us9.27m through Technology Associates which has no contract with Crane Bank or Meera investments. The central bank wants the three justices of the court of appeal to declare that Wangutusi errored in facts and law to dismisses their suit against the city tycoon. The bank claims that Sudhir mismanages the tax payer’s money worth shs400bn which was withdrawn from the treasury to save Crane Bank. 

Tycoon Sudhir celebrated the dismissal of the BOU suit and revealed to journalists that he has defeated BOU mafias who stole his bank.

By Sengooba Alirabaki

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OPINION: Free Trade For African Countries: Continental Block Will Spur Trade And Develop Africa

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In his book, “Sowing The Mustard Seed”, Second Edition, President Museveni articulates the case for Pan-Africanism with a slant, in part, to business dividends. “The milk production of Uganda is now 2 billion litres, up from 200 million litres in 1986. Uganda, however, currently, consumes only 800 million litres per annum”. He adds that; “What will happen to the rest then? This is true of bananas, goats, cattle, fruits and other products? Our second layer of saviours are the East Africans, the South Sudanese, the Congolese and other regional partners”.

The President has been, and remains a strong advocate of regional integration in Africa. Now, further to the likes of EAC and COMESA, the big one is here. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) endorsed by African Union (AU) Member States in Kigali, in March 2018, takes effect next year. This, after the ratification of the operational aspects of AfCFTA, at an AU extra-ordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger on 7th July 2019 – The New Vision, 20th July 2019.

The essence of Niamey pact is that Africa’s Free Trade Area will be operational effective July 2020. In Niamey, the necessary instruments were signed by the required minimum 22 AU Member States, including Uganda. It is a major break-through for business across the continent. With 55 Member countries, Africa’s Free Trade Area will dwarf ALL trading blocks, including the EU, in terms of membership. 

AfCFTA is bringing together a combined market of 1.2 billion people and economies with an aggregate GDP of USD 2.5 trillion. It is a huge market under which countries in Africa, will trade with each other, minus tariff barriers. AfCFTA will spur industrialization, grow economies, create jobs, strengthen indigenous capabilities and ease Africa’s vulnerability to external trading shocks.

For Uganda, niche items include fresh, organic grain foodstuffs, which have ready market in countries like Congo, Angola, Senegal, Namibia and the Saharan, North African Countries. Our other niche items include milk, fruits, fish, beef and household consumer items. Uganda is also progressively building capacity in oil and gas and services like tourism and ICT innovations, from which we stand to reap, among others. 

Intra-Africa business will slash Africa’s trade deficit, considering the continent imports food items alone, worth USD 60 billion annually. Relatedly, under the current skewed trade regime, intra-Africa business is at 16% while that with Europe, for instance, is at 65%.

Therefore, the AfCFTA will unlock Africa’s massive economic potential, right from the short term. Indeed, intra-African trade is now projected to rise to 60% by 2022. Retaining the USD 60 billion Africa is “donating” to Europe in annual food imports, will greatly boost the continent socio-economically.

In a riveting address, at a Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture at Makerere University on 31st August 2017, President Museveni submitted that; “Africa is a huge continent with a land area of 11.7 million square miles, which makes it 12 times bigger than India, 4 times bigger than USA and China each and more than 2 times the size of Russia. We are somewhat working on economic integration through the Regional Economic Communities; although we should be more religious and focused on this issue”. 

Credit to him and other regional leaders for bringing AfCTFA to life. We should, therefore, position Uganda tap into this huge continental market. Priority considerations include accelerating industrialisation, improving product/service value chains, fast-tracking oil, gas, energy and minerals’ development. Others are expanding transport and ICT infrastructure, enhancing agricultural production and aligning our fiscal policies, as may be applicable.

Moses Watasa

Commissioner, Communication and Information Dissemination

MINISTRY OF ICT & NATIONAL GUIDANCE

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