• Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | After summoning his staff, Minister of State for Lands, Sam Mayanja warned his officials to stop rampant corruption and fraud in the lands office or risk being fired. The minister’s remarks were a sharp warning to his staff to curb double titling and making multiple entries on the same land titles. He also directed them to stop rushed land title transfers without giving affected parties a chance to be heard.

According to Sam Mayanja, he heard land fraud complaints just three months after his appointment. He also had an honest discussion with his staff about corruption within the lands office.

“I’m a lawyer and I know a lot about land matters and when I was appointed to this ministry, I knew I was coming to the most corrupt ministry and now I have seen it with my own eyes. The corruption here is for everybody to see,” Minister Sam said.

Minister Sam Mayanja’s summons to meet his staff follows President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s involvement after writing separate letters to Governor of the Bank of Uganda Emmanuel Tumusiime- Mutebile and Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka. The President had addressed the issue in his letter. 

However, when asked if his tough words resulted from President Museveni’s letters, Minister Sam Mayanja responded that the Sibamanyo standoff was an eye-opener.

Minister Mayanja stated, “A lot has been happening at the Ministry [of Lands, Housing and Urban Development]. But the fact that the President has got interested in Simbamanyo sale made me meet the staff and tell them frankly to change their ways, or drastic measures shall be taken.”

Minister Sam Mayanja also stated he had planned to fire officers at the ministry’s headquarters in Kampala, but changed his mind after consulting with the staff to give them a fair hearing.

In his words, “People come here on weekends to do transactions while others are away. Do you people want to have suitable careers; because I wanted to fire people, but I also thought about people’s reputations and families? But why can’t you do the right thing?” Sam Mayanja stated.  

However, during the meeting, Ogaro attributed unchecked corruption at the ministry on low staff pay and stated, “If you are paying land officers Shs1.5m yet they are handling transactions of billions of shillings, what do you expect them to do?” “The ministry got just 0.1 percent of the national budget, how do you expect to eliminate corruption and improve services with such a budget?”

One of the female staff members revealed that, even when serving people honestly, the perception of corruption is still present.

She said, “People believe the system can’t work without corruption. That’s why they keep asking brokers to do work for them, and they believe those brokers are part of the ministry. That’s why the belief that we are corrupt isn’t going away.” 

Minister Mayanja stated he was advised to fire everyone at the Wakiso Lands office, which had a reputation for being an epicentre of land corruption.

About the President’s Letters

In the letters to Governor of the Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile and Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the president tasked the Bank of Uganda (BOU) and the Attorney General to investigate how Simbamanyo and Afrique Suites were sold at very low prices.

President Museveni wrote, “Mr Peter Kamya and Dr Margaret Muganwa have appealed for my intervention in matters regarding the sale of Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites by Equity Bank. They state that, whereas the Bank of Uganda directed, there should be no foreclosure of mortgaged properties by banks during the Covid-19 pandemic, Equity Bank sold their properties at very low prices. That they had even offered to get their own buyers, but all their attempts were frustrated.”

In a letter to Kiryowa Kiwanuka, President Museveni ordered him to investigate the matter and render a legal opinion urgently.

Issues that Fueled the Meeting

Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites Hotel

Equity Bank seized Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites Hotel last year after Mr Peter Kamya and his Simbamanyo Estates failed to repay an estimated US$10.8 million, approximately 40 billion Ugandan Shillings loan.

The bank issued a notice of default to Simbamanyo for failing to service its loan obligation and declared its intention to foreclose and recover the loan obligation. Simbamanyo requested a temporary injunction to prevent the bank from foreclosing on the mortgaged properties.

After losing successive court battles that started with him taking on Equity Bank, Mr. Kamya’s Simbamanyo House was sold to tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia’s Meera Investments at UGX 18.5 billion, while his Afrique Suites was sold to Luwaluwa Investments.

The internal report by the Bank of Uganda in response to President Museveni letter has since declared the auction and sale of Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites fair and done under the law.

Wakiso District Land Registry

In 2018, following a public outcry over endemic land corruption, the State House Anti-Corruption Unit raided the Wakiso District Land Registry, arresting surveyors, land officials, and brokers and seizing electronic devices from land offices and clients who processed land titles.


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