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I Smelt A Rotten Rat In Mutungo Land Deal – Auditor General Reveals, Chief Gov’t Valuer Denies Approving Shs26bn Compensation

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The Auditor General John Muwanga (C) before the land probe

John Francis Semwezi Muwanga, the Chief Auditor General has revealed shocking evidence on the Mutungo hill transaction between the Government of Uganda and Dr. Muhammad Buwule Kasasa. Muwanga testified before the commission of inquiry into land matters that in 2006, when they were Auditing the financial statements of the ministry of Lands, he discovered that there was a lot of fraud in the purchase of 640 acres of land on Kyadondo Block 237 plot 56,59 and 29.

 “I was supposed to give an Audit Opinion on the financial statements of the Ministry of Finance but I failed to give it. I wrote to the accounting officer to give me the details of Shs1.2bn paid to two people. The details of the land transaction were missing,” Muwanga said. He said that the money was paid without the valuation report from the Chief Government Valuer yet government cannot buy land without knowing how much it costs.

 There was no land title nor transfer forms from the owner of the land. Muwanga told the commission that the accounting officer who was also the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of lands told him that the government purchased the land for security reasons and that negotiations were still ongoing. He added that by that time, government had already paid Shs186m. He reported the matter to parliament for more investigations.

 He said that again in 2007, he found out that the government had paid more money which was totaling to Shs1.1bn. He however said that to his surprise, the land that was purchased had caveats lodged on it by the family of the late George William Semanda, one of the claimants on the land. He said that he found out that the transaction agreement was done in 2008 while the land was purchased in 2002. He said that he wrote to the Attorney General and Solicitor General to find out whether they were the ones who drafted the sales agreement. He said that the Attorney General and Solicitor General’s office through Katunguka denied drafting the agreement and even gave him letters written to them by Sebalu, Lule and Company Advocates and Lukwago and Company Advocates challenging the transactions. He testified that when he wrote to Uganda lands commission, he found out that there was no land title transferred from Kasasa.  He said that he reported the matter back to parliament and in 2008, he was summoned by the Public Accounts Committee to testify against the Mutungo scandal which he did. He said that in 2008, a whistleblower came to his offices and reported to him the corruption involved in the purchasing of the Mutungo hill land. He said that after receiving the whistleblowers’ statement, he refered the matter to the Inspector General of Government for further investigation and if necessary, prosecution of the culprits involved in the Mutungo hill scandal.

 He said that unfortunately, his complaint was not handled by the Inspector General of Government up to now.  He disclosed that by that time, court had also issued an order to Uganda Land Commission to delay the removal of the caveat lodged on the land until it had determined the matter. He wondered why the Uganda Lands Commission continued to transact the land even though there was a court order.  The deputy lead counsel to the Commission asked Muwanga whether he knows the person who drafted the agreement. Muwanga admitted that it was strange and he was scared of the way the transaction was rushed. He wondered why the person who drafted the agreement indicated that the government was supposed to pay Kasasa shs2.4bn within 60 days and with a clause that if the 60 days elapse without payment, government was supposed to pay a huge bank interest rate.

 Muwanga noted that its strange because bank interests change according to the changes in the economy. He testified that he was shocked when he landed on a letter written to the permanent secretary ministry of lands from the permanent secretary ministry of finance confirming that they were ready to pay the remaining shs26bn to Kasasa. He said that the person who   drafted the agreement was putting Kasasa on the upper hand than the government.  The commission also received a testimony from Gilbert Kerimundu the chief Government valuer who denied approving Shs26bn as compensation to Kasasa. He said that in 2017, he received a letter from the office of the Attorney General through the office of the Permanent Secretary ministry of lands asking him to calculate how much money government can compensate to Kasasa. He said that he also received a letter from the president asking the ministry of lands to speed up the compensation to Kasasa.

 Kirimundu told the commission that when he calculated, Kasasa was supposed to be paid Shs7bn. He said that after approving Shs7bn, he was summoned to the Attorney General’s office and they were badly insulted by officers in the offices of Attorney General and Kasasa’s lawyers. He was tasked to explain how he calculated his shs7bn compensation because it was too little.  He said that he explained to them that he used the fixed bank interest rate instead of the lending rate. Karimundu revealed that he insisted not to change his method when calculating Kasasa’s compensation. He testified that after the meeting in the office of the Attorney General, Guster Mugoya, the lawyer to Kasasa came to his office and started insulting him. He ordered him to change the method he used to calculate Kasasa’s compensation. The commission is still investigating the matter.

 

By Jamil Lutakome

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Former Kira Mayor Mamerito Sweats Before Land Probe Over Grabbing Namboole Stadium Land

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Former Kira Municipality mayor Mamerito Mugerwa was yesterday grilled for grabbing Namboole stadium land.  Mamerito was tasked by John Bosco Suuza, the deputy lead counsel of the Commission on why he refused to vacate the land in question in 1992 after being duly compensated by the government.

“Mr. Mamerito, there is no contestation that you have been compensated by the government who want to use the land, why are you up to now still claiming ownership?” Suuza asked.

Mamerito who looked confused admitted that he was paid only shs1m for his piece of land where his Mamerito hotel sits and he refused to vacate the place because the Money was too little. He said that he cannot allow the stadium to take the said piece of land which they claim to own since it’s the place that on which his hotel parking yard and swimming pool sit. He told the commission that if the government wanted his land, it was supposed to first negotiate with him so that they agree on how much to compensate him. Mamerito lost his calmness when Suuza showed him documents identifying him as a squatter on the stadium land.

“How can you call me a squatter? My Lord, I own a land title, I’m am not a squatter please. Let the government show me transfer forms I signed granting them permission to take away my land,” Mamerito furiously asked.

He revealed that he is willing to return the shs1m given to him as compensation by government in 1992 so as to retain his land because he is a businessman who knows very well the value of land.

Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the chairperson of the Commission told Mamerito that before committing himself to pay back the money compensated to him by government, he must understand that he must pay even the interest since 1992.

Mamerito told the Commission that they were misled by the management of the stadium who refused to show the other side of the story. He cited the time when the Commission visited the contested land, Hajji Jamil Sewanyana Mpagi, the managing Director of the stadium decided to lead the Commission to Bweyogerere central market and Bweyogerere police and intentionally refused them to visit his hotel which is under contestation for sitting on government land.

Justice Bamugemereire told Mamerito that the problem was he hid away from the Commission when they were visiting the land because the Commission, during the said visit, interacted with other claimants on Namboole land like Norah Nabagesera. She tasked Mamerito to bring the said land titles on which he is basing his argument to own the land before the end of yesterday.

The Commission is still investigating the matter.

By Jamil Lutakome

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OPINION: If We Refuse To Bless Others We Will Remain As We Are, Or Worse, If We Are Profiting From Unjust Gain, We Are Heaping Problems And Curses On Ourselves And Our Families – Janet Museveni

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The Bible informs us that ancient Egypt was the political and economic powerhouse of its day. The Pharaoh who was king had unrivaled influence and power over the known world. The Children of Israel who came to Egypt first as guests or refugees of famine, soon had a reversal of fortunes and became the slaves of Egypt for 400 years.

Amazingly as Providence would have it Moses, who was the son of Hebrew slaves, was adopted by Pharaoh’s sister and raised as a prince of Egypt. He received the best education in the Arts, Sciences, Architecture and Warfare. As a young person, I loved the movie adaptation of this story called, “The Ten Commandments” starring Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as the Pharaoh Rameses.

In the film, the grandeur and splendor of ancient Egypt is captured in its architecture, science, war machinery and wealth. The only mischaracterization in the film is the casting of the Egyptians as Europeans whereas it is clear from the drawings inside the pyramids, that the original Egyptians were black Africans.

In addition, in 2 Chronicles 8:11, the Bible tells of how Solomon built a palace for his wife, the daughter of Pharaoh, yet he didn’t accord this honor to his other wives or concubines. The Bible also tells the story of the queen of Sheba or Ethiopia who visited King Solomon and gave gifts of gold, precious stones and spices. 2Chron.9:1

All these accounts show that the Africa of antiquity was not only prosperous and wealthy but more so a political and global hegemon.

The question, that I have pondered many times over the years is,”What happened to Africa?”

Africa committed the grave sin of enslaving the children of Israel for 400 years, which returned to haunt the African continent with the advent of the evil trans-Atlantic slave trade. This year 2019, marks the 400th anniversary of the first African slaves arriving in America and the ensuing exploitation of African people. This anniversary is a watershed moment in our history and a time for prayer, reflection and firm resolution as we look to the future

The strongest and brightest Africans were carried to America to serve as cheap labour to build the economies of the western hemisphere. It was African youth and strength that fuelled the Industrial revolution and once it was underway, the Europeans returned to the African continent in search of raw materials and the scramble and carving up of Africa followed. The age of colonialism meant that Africa became a spectator to global and even their own local affairs. African communities were disconnected from each other and from their land. They were forced to grow cash crops that had no linkage to the local needs of the community and only served to strengthen the disenfranchisement of local communities and tie them in dependence to Europe.

Africans were deemed unable to take care of their own affairs and thus began the culture of being told what to do for ourselves. For it is in Africa, that other people tell you what is apparently in your own best interest as though you are incapable of making that decision on your own. I am not one of those who believe that Africa’s problems are all in the past, but I do think it is important for us to understand where we went wrong in order to not repeat history.

My heart’s cry is also going out to parents who are praying for the soul of our country and the future of our children. Parents who understand that the battle we are facing will be won on our knees in prayer. It will not be won through money or donors, it can only be won by sustained and prevailing prayer.

I believe that God has been waiting for Africans to awaken from deep slumber and realize that our greatest obstacles are internal rather than external. Our weaknesses are our own petty and selfish differences. The magnifying of small differences and totally obscuring the many ties that bind us and our historical, cultural and spiritual interests. All that is sacrificed on the altar of personal ambition and ego and the thirst for unjust gain. My prayer is that in this time, Uganda will break out of that vicious cycle and choose another path, the path of doing good, to build our nation by being and doing the best.

Many times, I have felt deep frustration as I wonder what unique solutions or innovations does Africa bring to the world? Do we feel compelled to do what others have not done in order to bring to the table a perspective that is uniquely African and thus take our place among the nations.

Even in the area of agriculture, where we have a comparative advantage and could outgrow and out produce anyone in the world, even there we have not fully harnessed our natural resources and still depend on the rains to grow our crops. Our national parks and natural beauty and wildlife is God given, but have we been good stewards to use these resources to their maximum potential for the good of our communities?

I was quite challenged to learn that when China decided to modernize their economic policies to become a mixed economy, they asked their population to make a nominal contribution to raise the money for this work. Every citizen paid a nominal fee of say 1/- in order to support and start up this work and raise the capital to fund their own programs. The principle here is self-reliance and community ownership of their work and responsibilities as citizens.

The Chinese probably knew that they had few true friends who had their long-term interests for stability and development at heart. So instead of looking outward, they looked inward to their own people. They didn’t wait for “Development Partners” as we often do in Africa, rather they succeeded by building their internal capacity and studied other world systems picking what worked and discarding what didn’t work for them.

There is a story I like to share with women in the country whenever I have an opportunity to do so. I visited Bangladesh many years ago and learned of the story of how a wealthy philanthropist saw an opportunity to help women become self-reliant contributors to their society. This Bangladesh philanthropist knew the power of investing in women and made an initial contribution to a SACCO for rural women. He knew that the rural woman was one of the most marginalized and overlooked members of the society and yet they formed the foundation or bedrock of family and thus national life. So he worked hard to gain their trust and convinced them to begin to take small loans to improve their lives. These women who started out as being very intimidated and scared of taking loans knowing that they could never pay them back, soon became more confident and started prospering. The philanthropist helped the women to form large working groups and as the women borrowed more money and worked hard to pay this money back, the fruits of transformation started to show. They sent their children to school, they built decent homes for their families and their lives changed for the better.

Soon after that, the World Bank came knocking on their door, they had noticed the success of their SACCO and now wanted to invest more money with them and perhaps help them run their banks. The Bangladeshi women considered this offer, but their answer was ultimately, ”thanks but no thanks.” They responded to the officials saying when they were in dire poverty and the banks had this money all the while and never came to help them. Now that they had their own money they did not need anybody’s help!”

That story absolutely uplifts my spirit because it reinforces my belief that real transformation does not come from big International Organizations but rather from simple personal decisions made by ordinary people. Therefore, my prayer for Ugandan families, mothers and fathers, men and women who are working hard to build their families one day at a time is that God will help us to raise children who will become serious, responsible and productive citizens that seek to make a positive contribution to their society. Children who will strive to build their schools, Technical Colleges and Universities, leaving a positive legacy behind instead of strikes and riots that only destroy what has already been built. These children can only come from stable homes built on a solid foundation of prayer.

Recently I was happy to launch the work of a local charity called Hill City Foundation. This organization gives scholarships to bright and deserving students whose families are not able to meet the cost of tuition. In addition, the organization gives mentorship and seed money to young graduates to help guide them as they begin their journey into the workforce. I was so overjoyed as I launched this foundation because it was a sign to me that finally the tide is beginning to turn and Africans are maturing and understanding the barriers to our blessings. If we as Ugandans can heed the commandment to” Love your neighbor as yourself,” we will be able to be a blessing to others & God will in turn bless us.

However, if we continually refuse to bless others we will remain as we are, or worse be diminished. If we are profiting from unjust gain, then we are heaping problems and curses on ourselves and our families. Can you imagine a home that is built with embezzled government funds earmarked for establishing a community school or hospital? You have denied that community a basic need and put your personal needs above those of others. You may succeed in hiding your wrongdoing and may even be well regarded by friends and colleagues who share your mindset, but ultimately we have one Judge who sees and knows all and nothing is hidden from His sight. He is the One who blesses or withholds blessing and therefore we should not delude ourselves. We must raise our children to know they have a responsibility to their family, community and their nation.

Finally, we all need to be reminded that it is God who created Africa and Uganda for a purpose. He lovingly made everything beautiful for His children to enjoy. And I believe He has been waiting for us to choose to become the people that will work hard to develop this beautiful land for the glory of His Name and the good of His people. It is not an easy task by any means, but it is possible. The Bible says we “will live by the sweat of our brow” and that is what we are called to do as far as our country is concerned. But if we pray, He will guide us as He always has and if we are obedient to Him, He will multiply and bless the work of our hands so that poverty and insufficiency will become a thing of the past.

May God bless you!

Maama

Janet K Museveni

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You Have Been Eating IPOD Money Stop Pretending – DP’s Mukaku Tells FDC: M7 To Increase Political Parties’ Funding From 10 Billion To 35 Billion

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President Museveni’s government is set to increase funding for the Inter Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) from Shs10 billion to Shs35 billion according to Democratic Party’s (DP), Samuel Walter Lubega Mukaku.

While addressing the press at the party’s head office at City House today, Mukaku bragged that increasing IPOD funding is one of the biggest achievements they (DP) have achieved while chairing IPOD. He said that this new funding will also include all politicians even those who are independent like Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Hon Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, who is also the leader of People power movement.

“Under the leadership of chairman Mao, we have fought to increase the funding of not only DP but all political parties which has been at Shs10 billion to 35 billion in the year 2019/2020,” Mukaku said.

He wondered that their colleagues have been eating this money but surprisingly today they are playing games claiming that they can’t be part of IPOD.

“Sitting with the enemy who has been adamant to agree with you and convincing him to finally accept to help your people and add a stone on the struggle after such a long time is a big success to us.

Under the agenda, we wanted to make sure that we amend the Public Order Management Act (POMA) regulations and so far, we have already sat the Prime Minister and Museveni down. DP is responsible for even those candidates who don’t have representation in parliament and can’t sit at the IPOD and our own rights are respected and granted. POMA is already adapting to the regulations that we proposed,”he said.

He added, “At IPOD, there is summit and council of Secretary General where the president with representations in parliament meet. FDC is tried to trivialise, comment and post funny pictures of our president that he looked idle while waiting for Museveni at his house when the truth was he was at Protea Hotel .

President Museveni delayed but the National Resistance Movement (NRM) gave an explanation to IPOD chairman who accepted it in good faith.”

He encouraged all politicians to join General Muntu during the launching of the alliance for national transformation (ANT).

By Evelyn Musiimenta

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