UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Parliament has accepted the Ad hoc Committee’s recommendations to hold the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) and several current and previous ministers accountable for unlawful dealings on the Naguru-Nakawa land.
The Committee Chairperson, Kazo County MP, Hon. Dan Kimosho, presented a report before the Parliament yesterday stating that the State Minister for Lands, Hon. Persis Namuganza, authorised the Uganda Land Commission to allot land to organisations based on alleged presidential directions, a claim that was not documented, traced or even availed to the committee.
Namuganza insisted on having met with President Museveni about the matter in 2020, although the committee was unable to establish documentation of the President’s instruction to allot land.
“On 24 January 2020, I wrote a letter requesting for allocation of 10 acres of land to construct a modern children’s hospital and dialysis centre,” said Namuganza.
“A case in point is a letter dated 24th January 2020, the Minister brought to the attention of the Chairperson ULC, entities and persons whom the President is purported to have issued directives for allocation of land. These entities included Anil Damani, Seven Hills and Princeton Children’s Medical Centre,” reads part of the committee report.
Kimosho revealed to the Parliament that these ‘Presidential Directives’ did not exist, and Anil Damani denied drafting the letter to the Minister and signing it.
It is alleged that even the stated recipients of the allocations have claimed that the reported petitions made by Namuganza for the property were frauds.
In the report, Kimosho said, “Hon. Persis Namuganza should be held accountable for abuse of office for misleading the ULC into the allocation of land to individuals and entities following presidential directives which were non-existent.”
Kimosho further suggests in his report that Parliament request President Yoweri Museveni to temporarily suspend Minister Namuganza from her responsibilities to allow the necessary government agencies to carry out an investigation.
The 142-acre plot was allocated to Opec Prime Properties Ltd in 2007 to establish a satellite city on the land. The contract called for the construction of 1,747 residential units, with preference given to registered residents of the Nakawa-Naguru Housing Estate. The project was supposed to take ten years to complete, which didn’t happen. The government repossessed the land to allocate it to capable investors who could develop it.
The report also mentions former Deputy Attorney Mwesigwa Rukutana, former Lands Minister Betty Amongi, and former ULC chairperson Baguma Isoke as having exerted excessive influence over the retaking of possession of the Naguru land, portraying the government in a bad light.
“This resulted in the government paying USh50 million as the ministers were found guilty of contempt of court. The monies that were ordered by the court to be paid by ministers but were paid by the government should be recovered from them,” the report reads in part.
The report also condemns ULC for violating the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act when it used brokers and simple notices on company facilities to advertise land allocations.
“Most allocatees informed the committee that they got information about the availability of land at Naguru estate through brokers. ULC said that following the visit of the former Minister of Lands, Hon. Betty Kamya and the technical team had an influx of applications. They issued a notice detailing the requirements which the applicants should submit alongside their applications,” said Kimosho.
The commission never advertised the accessible public land, according to the committee.
According to Kimosho’s report, the procedure was unclear and lacked the integrity required of a government agency.
MPs of the eleventh Parliament demanded that the ULC secretary and commissioners be reprimanded. They also recommended that a competent team be formed to rescue more government land.
“Let this Parliament at its peak be remembered for censuring those who are responsible and that is the only way we can help the president and the public have the right officers,” said Robert Migadde, the Buvuma Island MP.
The Bugabula North MP, John Teira, also criticised the use of the President’s name to execute illegitimate actions.
John Teira said: “This business of the Front Bench inviting the President to launch fake projects must stop, why are you maligning my president and involving him in this fraudulent business?” he demanded. “Anyone found culpable must be held accountable.”
Hon. Mbwatekamwa Gafa, MP for Igara County West, said it was alarming to discover that a minister engaged in such a low-integrity activity.
“Hon. Namuganza has a responsibility and she must tell this House how this happened. People should be held responsible including some commissioners,” said Mbwatekamwa.
Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, has asked for a comprehensive inquiry into the ULC’s operations, claiming that several scandals are revealed at the commission every year despite the departure of key leaders. He also agreed with the committee’s recommendation that Minister Namuganza be held responsible.
Minister Namuganza responded to the committee findings by urging MPs to study her letter to ULC, claiming that it had not been captured by the Adhoc Committee. Her letter was handed to parliament, but several MPs believed that the Minister had already presented it to the committee and had it dully recorded.
Hon. Rukia Nakadama, the Third Deputy Prime Minister, vowed that the committee’s conclusions would be presented to the cabinet and that action would be taken against guilty officials.
“The executive will take up the matter and I think after two months, whoever will be found guilty, action will be taken against that person,” said Nakadama.
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