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    INSIDE STORY: They Denied Me Opportunity To Defend Myself – Pinetti Tells M7; Why He Summoned Mpaka Committee Over Coffee Deal Report; Mpuuga Warns Opposition Legislators On Going To State House…

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    Minister Matia Kasaija (C) after signing the coffee agreement with Italian investor Enrica pinetti (R). On the right is President Museveni

    Before summoning the parliamentary Committee on Trade and Tourism chaired by Mwine Mpaka Rwamirama, the Mbarara City South Member of Parliament, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni first met Enrica Pinetti, the controversial Italian Investor and the proprietor of the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited which was given the monopoly on buying the majority of the Uganda’s coffee.

    Sources in State House revealed to theGrapevine that Museveni’s meeting with Pinetti took place last month and she defended herself of any wrongdoing accusing the Mpaka committee of being biased against her and working on the public gallery.

    Pinetti told the president that she was very ready to meet the commission and explain her case but she was denied the opportunity.

    Pinetti was summoned during the Committee’s investigations and she only sent her lawyers led Vinci coffee company secretary who informed the legislators on the Trade and Tourism committee that their boss Pinetti was not available to meet them.

    Matovu told the committee that Pinetti was summoned to State House by President Museveni but he failed to convince the members on issues concerning their company and the coffee deal.

    During the meeting with President Museveni, sources said that Pinetti told the big man from Rwakitura that her name was tarnished by the committee and she is being branded a thief.

    “She pleaded to the president to do something about the people in the media who draw her in cartoons and accompany them with embarrassing statements,” a source said.

    After the meeting with Pinetti, Museveni was very bitter that’s why he threatened to deal with any person including his ministers who are fighting her.

    “Instead of wasting our energy fighting her come directly and start fighting me,” the source quoted Museveni telling his ministers.

    Kalungu West member of parliament Joseph Sewungu revealed to theGrapevine that president Museveni has a hand in delaying the tabling of the committee report on the floor of parliament.

    He insists that Museveni has interest in the deal and fears that the report might be doctored in State House to change the findings of the committee.

    He pleaded with Thomas Tayebwa, the deputy Speaker of Parliament, to allow legislators to access the committee report because he is very sure that the findings are going to be be tampered with soon.

    COMMITTEE DIVIDED ON M7’S SUMMONS

    By Friday morning, six MPs who signed the committee report had not yet gone for Covid-19 test as a requirement before meeting the president.

    Sources on the committee said that among those who have not yet tested Covid-19 include; Buhweju Member of Parliament Francis Mwijukye, Bukomansimbi South’s Geofrey Kayemba Solo. However, most of the NRM party legislators including the chairperson are set to meet the big man to discuss the report.

    In plenary on Thursday, Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament disclosed that he has warned opposition members not to join those who are set to meet Museveni over the committee report.

    He insisted that the matters of parliament should be sorted in parliament not in State House because parliament is an independent organ.

    Sources on the committee told theGrapevine that all members unanimously agreed that the Pinetti coffee deal should be canceled because it is bad for the country.

    It was also recommended Matia Kasaija, the senior Minister of Finance and Ramathan Ggoobi the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance should be punished.

    In the agreement, Pinetti was given free land valued at Shs7.3bn, tax exemption for ten years, VAT, PAYE, local service tax, work permits, NSSF, Stamp duty and other incentives.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    CRIME

    Kabaka Mutebi, Tycoon Ham Kiggundu Kigo Land War Deepens As BLB Boss Faces Prosecution Over Conflict Of Interest …

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    Tycoon Ham Kiggundu (L) and Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi (R). Inset is Bashir Juma

    Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s Kigo Land war with city tycoon Hamis Kiggundu, the proprietor of the Ham Enterprises Limited has deepened after Ham’s lawyers called for the prosecution of Buganda Land Board (BLB) boss Bashir Kizito Juma over conflict of interest.

    Kabaka through his lawyers led by Buganda Attorney Christopher Bwanika, lawyers from K&K Advocates and S&L Advocates petitioned the registrar Land Registration John Karuhanga seeking the cancellation of land titles Comprised on Kyadondo Block 273 plot 23974, 23976, 23975, 23977 and Kyadondo Block 273 plot 87,99, 110 situated at Kigo in Wakiso district.

    Kabaka asserted that he is the rightful owner of the land and accused Ham of fraudulently conniving with officers at Wakiso district land board to grab his land which he inherited from his father and grandfathers.

    He added that Ham admitted that he illegally obtained the land and accepted the cancellation which he strongly objected to in his defense before Karuhanga.

    In his defense, Ham, through his lawyers led by Fred Muwema contended that he is the owner of the land after he legally obtained it from Wakiso district land board.

    He claimed that the survey report which Kabaka Mutebi based on to argue his case is fake since it is not even dated and that’s the reason why he appointed a private surveyor William Matovu to conduct another survey report which contradicted with that of the Kabaka. He promised to present it to the registrar.

    He pleaded to the registrar not to base on the testimony of Bashir Kizito Juma, the legal Attorney to Kabaka because he has a conflict of interest in the matter.

    “Our contention is that there is an actual conflict of interest in the duties of Bashir Kizito Juma acting both as a public officer and a private officer of the complainant,” Ham’s lawyers said.

    They added, “This type of conduct by Bashir Kizito Juma is against the Code of Conduct and Ethics of Public Service issued under the Public Standing Orders 2010.”

    They divulged that conflict of interest is a punishable crime in Uganda especially where a public officer holds a position in a private body whose operations are in conflict with his official duties.

    He added that the irony of the matter is that the freehold titles were granted by the Wakiso District Land, which employs Bashir Kizito Juma which means that he is both a witness and the architect of the complaint.

    “This tribunal can therefore not entertain this conflict of public officers to pursue a conflicted complaint which derogates all best practice in public law. In our considered view, entertaining this complaint as presently filed is to perpetuate illegality and a constitutionally prohibited act,” they stated.

    Ham pleaded with Karuhanga’s tribunal to dismiss the complaint and declare him the rightful owner of the said land.

    Bashir Kizito Juma is the head Corporate affairs, operations and business development at Buganda Land Board (BLB), a corporate body that runs the kingdom’s land.

    Karuhanga is set to declare his team’s decision this week.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NATIONAL

    Dr. Musenero’s Troubles Escalate As Parliament Gives IGG Three Months Ultimatum To Investigate Her Over Alleged Mismanagement Of Covid-19 Funds…

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    IGG Betty Kamya (R) and Minister Musenero (L)

    Parliament has given the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Beti Kamya three months to carry out further investigations into allegations of financial mismanagement against the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero.

    “We have agreed as a House that there are some burning issues such as abuse of office, money that has been lost, that we refer this and give the IGG three months to report back on the action taken,” Speaker Anita Among said yesterday.

    The resolution was reached during a plenary session when the parliament adopted amendments from the select committee report tabled on May 11 that was first tasked to investigate the alleged mismanagement of Covid-19 funds.

    According to the report, there were gross irregularities, including Shs. 2.6b that was unaccounted for that is why members recommended for the disbandment of the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) and that Dr. Musenero be personally held accountable for the alleged mismanagement.

    Kazo County Member of Parliament, Dan Kimosho who moved the motion to amend the report has thus called upon Dr. Musenero to step down from her office as investigations into her case continue.

    In response, however, Dr. Musenero who has since denied all the allegations told parliament that “If there is in any way, in my work and in the way I handled things, offended anybody, I regret those things and I will work to build a reputation and to build the science.”

    “The report refers to money which was lost but that money never left the Ministry of Science to go to PRESIDE scientists, because PRESIDE itself didn’t receive any money. There was no money lost and Musenero never touched any money.

    “Now, when you go to a technical institution like IGG, which is okay because we will sit and analyze the evidence. I am happy with the recommendations of the committee report, although they have some things which were not very accurate. We shall be telling the public what those facts are,”  Dr. Musenero added.

    Since last year, Dr. Musenero has been reporting to the committee to respond to a wide range of issues linked to the development of the Covid-19 drug of which the project is registering significant progress.

    President Museveni on several occasions publicly applauded Dr. Musenero with a vote warning all her perceived detractors that he would die with them should they continue attacking “his scientists.”

    Museveni recently even cautioned that the unwarranted fights would derail the projects of developing numerous virus vaccines.

    The President on many occasions has said that Uganda is likely to be the first African country to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

     

    By Kobusiinge Monica

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    NATIONAL

    End Of Operation Shujaa: UPDF To Withdraw Troops From DR Congo In Two Weeks Unless M7 And Tshisekedi Agree On Extension…

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    Commander Operation Shujaa, Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga (with walking stick) in DRC

    The Commander of Land Forces Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba has announced that Uganda will remove its troops from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in two weeks after months of massive fights and bombings in a fight against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terrorists.

    According to Lt. Gen. Muhoozi, Operation Shujaa will officially cease in about two weeks.

    “Operation Shujaa will officially cease in about two weeks according to our original agreement. It was supposed to last for 6 months. Unless I get further instructions from our Commander in Chief or CDF, I will withdraw all our troops from DRC in two weeks,” Lt. Gen. Kainerugaba revealed on Tuesday.

    Muhoozi however added that Operation Shujaa will only continue if President Museveni and President Tshisekedi agree to extend it.

    “To be clear Operation Shujaa will continue even for another 6 months if the two Presidents, Kaguta Museveni and H.E. Tshisekedi decide to extend it. The two of them are the ultimate authorities. The Joint Forces of UPDF and FARDC are happy to keep eliminating ADF,” he added.

    Under the command of Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) in November last year launched an operation code-named operation Shujaa with air, artillery and ground attacks against ADF rebels in eastern DR Congo in a move to eliminate the Islamist militants who had allegedly launched terror attacks on Uganda.

    Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga, celebrating Women’s Day with Congolese women in Kainama trading centre.

    The ADF has for several years operated in the volatile North Kivu which borders other provinces including Ituri to the north and South Kivu to the South and has been a battleground for a number of rival armed ethnic groups since 1998.

    The province consists of three cities including; Goma, Butembo and Beni as well as six territories Beni, Lubero, Masisi, and Rutshuru.

    According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the ADF which was designated as a terrorist group by the US government has used the name Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen (City of Monotheism and Holy Warriors (MTM) to refer to emphasize its links to the Islamic State.

    In 2019, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an ADF attack and first referenced a “Central Africa Province.”

    The organization is allegedly led by Musa Baluku, who served as a senior ADF Islamic legal official before consolidating power following Mukulu’s arrest in 2015.

    The group has been blamed for last year’s bomb attacks in Kampala which killed over seven people and left others with severe injuries.

    Following the launch of an operation against the group in the thick DRC forests by a joint force of the UPDF and Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FADRC), the ADF rebels were said to have fled their hideouts and were roaming in the thick jungles after their lives were made difficult.

    Consequently, the group has been carrying out attacks on several villages and towns where they know the joint forces are not present and looting food and animals.

     

    By Kobusiinge Monica

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