Lands minister Amongi continues to be quizzed by the lands committee

The Land Probe has tasked lands Minister Betty Amongi to explain circumstances under which her company acquired possession of four lucrative government properties in Kampala.

Amongi had appeared before the committee chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire following reports that she fraudulently used her position as a Minister and a member of the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board to acquire the properties through a company she co-owns with her sister.

Most prominent among the properties is Plot 29, Acacia Avenue in Kololo registered in the names of Toshak Munubhai Patel. The property now houses Midcom Telecom. The other is a house on Prince Charles Drive in Kololo, land in Industrial area and another piece of land in Mengo-Kibuga.

Documents before the Probe Commission indicate that Amongi’s company; Amobet Investments Limited secured approval for the property within two days of submitting the application. The same documents indicate that the company agreed to pay only 550,000 Shillings per month for each of the four properties.

George William Bizibu, the Executive Secretary of the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board told the probe committee earlier that he had informed the Board about the availability of the property, shortly before he received an application from Amobet Investments Limited.

Justice Bamugemereire wondered how Henry Mubiru, the Managing Director of Amobet Investments Limited, easily accessed the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board without the help of the minister, who also happens to be his employer.

The Land Probe Lead Counsel Ebert Byenkya also wondered how Mubiru easily learnt about all the properties without the help of the Minister.

But Amongi explained that her Managing Director had tried to apply for the property earlier in 2010 before her appointment as a Minister but lost interest when he got another opportunity in Juba, South Sudan. According to Amongi, it was only later in 2015 that Mubiru started scouting for property in Kampala again and brokers led him to the four properties.

She denied knowledge of Mubiru’s initial process of gaining access to the property saying that she only learnt about it when Mubiru found difficulties in evicting tenants at Midcom. Amongi said that she has never visited any of the four properties to date.

But Justice Bamugemereire said that it was impossible for Amongi not to know about Mubiru’s dealings. She indicated to Amongi provisions under the Leadership Code Act that bars conflict of interest, influence peddling and others.

Justice Bamugemereire directed Amongi to read Section 12 of the Leadership Code Act that prohibits a leader’s company to hold any contract with a government body that she or he controls.  A leader who contravenes with this provision is liable to vacate office or be dismissed.

Conflict of Interest is, according to the Leadership Code Act, defined as a situation where a leader has got to make a decision within his or her personal interest or public interest.

Ebert Byenkya, the Land Probe Lead Counsel said that the Minister’s situation in the acquisition of the four properties in Kampala plays out well in the provisions of the law.

Amongi’s appearance before the Land Probe following yesterday’s issuance of criminal summons to Amongi by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire following futile attempts to serve the minister since April 3 this year.


Lands minister Amongi accused of grabbing land

By Sania Babirye
An Indian Family has dragged the minister of Lands Betty Amongi to the Land probe commission accusing her of using her position as minister to steal their Family property  valued  at 5 billion shillings in Kampala that belonged to their departed parents.
While appearing before the seven member team chaired by justice Catherine Bamugemeire, a one Tashak Partel testified that before the  expulsion of Indian nationals, his grand parents were the registered  proprietors of plot 29 on Acacia avenue which was later entrusted to the Departed Asian custodian board .
Partel explained that in 1995 his family returned back to Uganda  an upon return, his mother Mandakini Manubai Partel re-possessed the said property in which she appointed him as the care taker of the said property.
He says that as a care taker,he rented the property out  to a telecom company -Midcom Ltd but in December 2017, he received a letter from a company called AMOBET investments Ltd asking his Asian family  to vacate the property because it was a government property since it had never been repossessed.
 He adds that in top of that on the 15th of February this year, minister Amongi  using the Ministry’s letter head  wrote to his lawyers of Bitangaro and company advocates summoning  him  to appear at the headquarters of the  Ministry of land Headquarters  to be grilled on allegations that there were forged documents including a land tittle and a certificate of re-possession of the property.
Partel has further revealed that he instructed his lawyer to ascertain the legality and ownership of AMOBET  company  in the registrar of companies and they later discovered that minister Amongi owns 66% of AMOBET company  while a one Cate Odongo owns the remaining 44%.
He has now told the land probe commission that the minister is using her influence to steal their property.
The allegations comes after the minister failed to appear before the commission ladt week to explain the alleged corruption in the land fund in which senior citizens including John Nagenda informed the commission that conmen are being compensated by the land fund instead of the rightful beneficiaries including him for their land given to government.
However Justice Catherine Bamugemeire insisted that the minister will be re-summoned to appear in person to explain the corruption allegations.

Trade minister disapproves of KCCA officer’s use of excessive force

By Wasswa Deo

The Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde has condemned the manner in which KCCA enforcement officers handle street vendors especially women, saying excessive force is uncalled for.

This follows the death of a one Olivia Basemera on Friday August 5th as she tried to escape from KCCA enforcement officers.

38 year old Basemera who was vending handkerchiefs reportedly jumped into the Nakivubo channel in a desperate attempt to escape and ended up losing her life.

In a statement released by Kyambadde, she regrets the death of Basemera saying such mistreatment and brutal arrests of street vendors by KCCA enforcement officers should come to a stop.

“Though the street vendors operate illegally, as human beings and fellow Ugandans, they deserve fair treatment especially the women majority of whom are single mothers fending  for their children in this era of high unemployment in Uganda”, exclaimed Kyambadde.

Wakiso Lands officers panic as Ministry boss pays surprise visit

There was drama at the Ministry of Lands Zonal offices in Wakiso district on Wednesday following an impromptu visit by Commission inquiring into land matters. The visit, which was part of the Commission’s first public hearing out of Kampala, caused a stampede at the offices, whose workers have in the past been accused of arriving late for work.

Justice Catherine Bamugemeriere and her Commissioners seemed to have carefully planned to storm the offices so as to interact with people who had turned up with complaints. Journalists who had turned up at Wakiso Court to cover the Commission proceedings were taken by surprise when Bamugemeriere and the other commissioners drove out of the premises suddenly when the hearing was expected to commence.

The Journalists were only saved by Commission Secretary, Olive Kazarwe who alerted them that they were likely to miss the story of the day. Bamugemeriere arrived at the Lands Zonal office at 9:45am causing a stampede that was worsened by her security detail comprised of Counter Terrorism Police.

Her target was the District Lands office, which she missed because she was directed to the Lands Zonal Office located up stairs. The Principal Lands Management Officer at Wakiso Lands Zone, Jackson Mukaga hadn’t arrived by the time the Commission stormed his office.

Justice Bamugemeriere knocked on his office door several times but there was no response. Mukaga was saved by the presence of Francis Banumba, a Senior Registration Officer who was already on his desk. On entering Banumba’s office, the Commissioners were stunned to find some of the land titles, including both the new processed and very old titles scattered on the floor.

There was no filing cabinet in office. Banumba complained that his office, just like that of other officers under Wakiso Land Zone isn’t well-facilitated. He said the office was also faced with huge cases of title forgeries.

He pulled a collection of forged land titles from his drawer, some of them with his forged signature. Banumba explained that police haven’t helped much to apprehend the fraudsters.  From Banumba’s office, the Commissioners returned to Mukaga’s office at around 10:50am but he still wasn’t there.

When the Commissioner finally accessed the office, they found several complaint letters on his desk. One, from a Law Firm belonging to the Former Lands Minister Omara Atubo complaining on behalf of a client, whose land in Bukasa was erroneously transferred to another person.

Bamugemereire wasn’t amused that the officer wasn’t at his desk when they arrived.

After three minutes in an office, whose owner was said to be in the Lands office in Kampala, the Commission marched to the ICT section.  Bamugemereire knocked at the door expecting to take the occupants by surprise but Banumba came in first and placed his fingers on the electronic access devise to usher in the commissioner.

It was 11:03 am. Two ICT officers, Henry Mugume and Ahumuza Patience were already at work. The two are charged with verifying expiring leases among others. Joyce Habasa, a Commissioner and Surveyor by profession asked the duo several questions. Justice Bamugemereire, who was seated behind Mugume’s computer, asked how the computerization of land titles was going on.  Jackson Mukaga finally arrived to join the meeting in the ICT section.

The World Bank-funded land title computerization project has been criticized by some of the witnesses that have appeared before the Commission of Inquiry.  After about fifteen minutes at the ICT section, Bamugemereire and her team decide to return to the Customer Care Section located down stairs where they found a seemingly dissatisfied, Rose Namazi. She has spent close to six months trying to secure her land title from possible fraud.

Namazi, dressed in a green dotted gomesi was seated at the reception holding a copy of her land titles. She was planning to walk out of the Office when Justice Bamugemereire stormed the customer care unit. The 75-year old woman had gone to seek information on whether she should surrender her land title to the heir. According to Namazi, the heir had asked her to surrender the land title to him claiming that his five-acre piece of land was wrongfully annexed to hers.

Namazi said she was uncomfortable to surrender the title fearing that her land would be stolen.  Andrew Mwanje, a Customer Care Officer at the office had advised the old lady to seek services of a lawyer or a surveyor.

Mukaga promised to personally follow up Namazi’s matter.  With Namazi’s issues almost done, the Commission was led to the Zone’s Lands strong room. The strong room holds tens of thousands of land titles from Kyadondo and Busiro area stored on shelves. Mukaga told the Commission that the Zone needs a bigger strong room since the current one has no room left because of the numerous land title subdivisions.

He explained that the many real estate dealers and land brokers are partly to blame for the space issues since they rank high in applying to subdivide land titles. From the strong room, the Commission visited other officers on duty, who they found more prepared. Bamugemeriere directed the officers to furnish her Commission with a number of documents.

The Commissioner returned to Wakiso court at a quarter to 1:00 o’clock to address some of the district officials including the Chief Administrative Officer, Luke Lokuda.

Lokuda told the Commission that Wakiso with about two million people is urbanizing so fast in all its four municipalities.  He said over 70 percent of land transactions in Uganda are in Wakiso district.

Lokuda said land in Waksio is mostly owned by Buganda Kingdom, adding that most of the local governments there don’t own the land they seat on. Bamugemereire explained that their decision to seat in Wakiso district and the impromptu visit to the Land office were meant to help the commission feel the real issues on the ground.

Wakiso is home to eighty percent of the country’s wetlands. The district is one of those with serious conflicts between landlords and their tenants. Every judicial officer at Wakiso has over two hundred land cases.

Information from court indicates that the land cases at the district outweigh criminal cases.  The worst bit of it is that the rate of land disputes tends to inform the type of crimes that happen in Wakiso.





Minister Kabafunzaki denies corruption charges

By Babirye Sania
Brian Mugabo, a  political assistant to the state minister of Labour and Employment Herbert Kabafunzaki has pleaded guilty to hiding  the 5 million shillings Bribe that the state minister for labor had received from the proprietor of Aya group of companies Mohammad Hamid.
The bribe was allegedly received by the  Hon. State minister at Serena hotel in Kampala on the 8th of this April 2017.
While appearing before anti corruption chief magistrate Agnes Alumu the 21 year old  accepted  the envelope which contained the  said money behind the curtains of the hotel  from  police  detectives who had come to arrest minister Kabafunzaki.
Evidence read to court by state prosecutor Barbra Kauma indicate that Mugabo did all this to enable the minister escape punishment and that the said money was retrieved by  footage viewed by the detectives from the CCTV camera.
Mugabo was charged with being an accomplice.
Meanwhile minister Kabafunzaki has denied the corruption charges against him and court is currently hearing  his bail application presented by his lawyer Kenneth Muhangi.

Fare thee Well Mayanja Nkangi

By Edwin Muhumuza
Parliament has paid tribute to former Buganda Premier and former minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs as his body lay in state.
He served Uganda and Buganda with dignity” said one of Uganda’s longest serving minister and Member of Parliament Hon. John Nasasira.
Former Inspector General of Government Jotham Tumwesigye has hailed the late Mayanja-Nkangi as a man so dedicated to national service.
“He lived a life of integrity and honesty. I had a chance to interact with him when he was minister of finance and i was inspector general of government. He helped me greatly when we worked together” he said.
At exactly 12 O’clock, the Speaker Rt.Hon,Rebecca Kadaga and deputy speaker Jacob Oulanya led government officials, retired civil servants, family and friends in showing last respects to the man who is widely revered as a nationalist.
Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi served as minister in three different governments. He was minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1963 under the Obote 1 government,
commerce and industry minister then labour minister under the Okello Lutwa government between August 1985 and January 1986. Under Museveni’s regime he was education minister, planning and economic development minister, finance minister and justice and constitutional affairs minister.
He will be buried at his ancestral home in   Kanyogoga in Kalungu district.

Mayanja Nkangi dies at Nakasero Hospital

By Moses Kidandi
Veteran Politician , former finance minister ,Justice Minister, Attorney General,and former Katikiro of Buganda Joach mayanja Nkanji is dead.
Mayanja Nkanji died at Nakasero hospital  where he had been hospitalized.
He will be remembered for several of his roles in Buganda and the country at large . He was also co founder of the conservative party currently being ran by John Ken Lukyamuzi the man .

Minister declines to commission school siting to mediocre work

The Minister for Presidency Esther Mbayo has refused to commission a school building that was constructed at Achaba Technical School in Oyam district over shoddy work.
Mbayo was on Wednesday invited by Oyam district authorities to commission the building that houses a multi-purpose hall, offices and school library which was constructed through a pledge by President Yoweri Museveni.

However, on inspecting the building, the Minister found that the work was incomplete and poorly done.
The floor of the building and some walls had cracks,the ceiling had not been fixed and all the six toilets are incomplete.
The minister was disappointed to learn that Multi-line Construction Uganda Limited, a Kampala-based construction firm that was sourced by the Ministry of Education and Sports had received all the money despite the poor work.

She wondered how and why the engineer who monitored and supervised the work would give the contractor the certificate for completion of the work. She blamed the district engineer and the school management Board for failing to supervise the work.
However, Oyam District Engineer explained that the work was directly supervised by the engineers from the Ministry of Education and Sports who he identified as Emmanuel Okello and Milly Okot.
Mbayo promised to appoint a committee of inquiry to investigate the manner in which the contractor was sourced and promised not to exonerate those implicated.
She suspects connivance by the members of the Board, the District Engineers, the school head teacher, engineers from the ministry of education and the contractor to swindle the money and that they must answer
The minister was on Wednesday in a fact finding visit of government initiated programs in Oyam district.

On May 5th 1999, President Museveni visited the school and found the community who had just returned from the Internally Displaced People’s camp struggling to put up the building when he pledged to support them with the completion of the building.

A budget was submitted to him and in the financial year 2011/2012 he gave 213 million shillings to complete the work. To date the work has not yet been completed.
Museveni’s support was part of his efforts to revamp the school that was vandalised by the rebels of the Lord Resistance Army in 1996. More than 20 students were abducted in the raid.
Five of them died in captivity including James Oming, Stella Aceng, Harriet Akuti, Christine Aou and one identified only as Okiye. Meanwhile, seven of the abductees returned home.
They include Okwir HP, Ketty Ayer, Betty Ejang, Martin Obel, Patrick Atim, James Adoko and Abong.



Minister Byabagambi’s company named in 3Bn Rural electrification scam

Karamoja Affairs Minister, Eng. John Byabagambi’s company has failed to pay over three billion Shillings it owes to Rural Electrification Agency.

Byabagambi is said to have fronted Ferdsult Engineering Services -a private electricity distribution service provider to Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for the deal to distribute power in parts of Western Uganda.

The company, in which Engineer Byabagambi is a board Chairperson, has allegedly defaulted payments to Rural Electrification Agency for nine years.

Information about the alleged debt emerged during a meeting of Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises on Tuesday. The Committee Chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu was considering the June 2015 Auditor General’s  report on Rural Electrification Agency.

The Committee learnt that the Company is run by close family members with strong links to government. Shareholders and Directors of Ferdsult include Owen Mulangira, Engineer John Byabagambi who doubles as its  Board Chairperson, Norbert Semilata, Enid Mbabazi, Mary Natukunda and Ferdinand Mugisha.

Enid Mugisha told the committee that she owns 25 percent shares in Fardsult. She is employed at Prime Minister’s Office. She is married to Ferdinand Mugisha, the Executive Director of the same company.  Ferdinand Mugisha formerly worked with Uganda Electricity Board. The other shareholder, Mary Natukunda is a sister  to Ferdinand Mugisha.

MPS also discovered l that Ferdsult also owes 5.2 billion Shillings to Uganda Electrification Transmission Company Limited.

Bonny Kizza, the Finance Director of Ferdsult confirmed to the committee that the company has been involved in power distribution and sale of electricity on behalf of Rural Electrification Agency since 2007 in Western Uganda.

He said that this business emanated from a ten year contract in which the Rural Electrification Agency on behalf of the Ministry of Energy.  He however attributed their failure to pay to the low income saying the the companies earnings is not enough to cover  operational expenses.

Godfrey Werikhe says his agency has been sending Ferdsult invoices of 30 million Shillings each month for payments but the money has not been paid. He said  Rural Electrification Agency only received 60 million Shillings from the contractor since it started business.

Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu tasked Rural Electrification Agency to explain whether it conducted due diligence before it entered a contract with Ferdsult.

Katuntu directed Ferdsult to sign a cheque to Rural Electrification Agency immediately but Kizza declined saying the company was soon winding up because it had financial challenges.

Budadiri West MP, Nandala Mafabi questioned why  Rural Electrification Agency would continue to work with a contractor for 9 years without receiving payments as stipulated in the contract.





Beti Kamya refutes claims that she abandoned her party for NRM

By Patricia Osman
Capital Gangster Beti  Kamya who was recently appointed as Minister for Kampala downplays suggestions that she has abandoned her political party the Uganda Federal Alliance. Kamya is the founder and president of the party made these clarifications during the Saturday 4th Capital gang .
However since her appointment last week many Ugandans have come out to say she is now working with the ruling NRM party. Kamya says this is not true adding that her heart remains. She also says that no one has asked her to change to the NRM party.