YOWERI MUSEVENI’S ROLE IN THE UBC LAND SAGA
Museveni’s rubber stamp parliament and gullible Ugandans are questioning the dubious acquisition of government land by Hon. Margret Muhanga. They are simply wasting their time because land grabbing is a scheme by the Museveni regime to impoverish Ugandans while creating a small class comprised of its cronies who own everything.
Hon. Margret Muhanga is the Woman Member of Parliament for Kabarole District. She is a sister to Museveni’s boot leaker, Andrew Mwenda, Brig. Kayanja Muhanga – the 4th Div. Commander, and Maj. Henry Baguma – a historical Director under the Internal Security Organisation (ISO). She is married to Michael Mugisha the former District Chairman Kabarole and now the Executive Director of National Forest Authority (NFA). She is the Spokesperson of the regime’s defacto parliament, the NRM caucus. Before coming to the political limelight, she was a reporter with the regime owned New Vision newspaper in the late 1980s and 1990s. As a news reporter, she got closer to Gen. Kahinda Otafiire when he was the Director General of External Security Organisation (ESO). Her husband replaced Damiano Akankwasa at NFA, after the later was convicted for abuse of office by causing financial loss of 2.8 billion shillings that came to light following the theft of 900M shillings from his bedroom. Her brother Andrew Mwenda was linked to Lawyer Bob Kasango’s 7.8b pensions scam. She claims to have raised the 10.2b shillings that she used to buy the UBC land by borrowing from her brothers and selling her cows and goats.
Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) was created by the UBC Act of 2004 following the merger of former Uganda Television and Radio Uganda. It now boosts of two TV channels and five radio stations. The past “inefficient” governments that Museveni fought failed to put to use the vast property of UBC and as of 2008 it owned only 35 acres of prime land in Bugolobi alone. Earlier, some of those who has fought the bush like Col. Mushega, Gen. Koreta, Brig. Eric Mukasa and a few others had been given part of the UBC land for free. The land titles for these properties has been mysteriously missing until in 2006 when the then Secretary to the Land Commission, Elizabeth Laker started creating new titles for the remaining land and giving it away to private developers. It took the intervention of the then UBC Corporation Secretary, Francis Gimara who placed caveats on the remaining land but at a heavy cost – his was kicked out of UBC.
In 2009 Minister Karoro Okurut and Margret Muhanga requested Museveni to give them part of the land belonging to UBC so that they could build a gumboot factory that would create 300 jobs for Ugandans. Museveni gave them the land. Their company, Extreme Innovations Ltd acquired two acres of UBC land located on Kibira Road in Industrial Area. Valued at 954M shillings that was supposed to be paid at the signing of the 49 years lease, UBC transferred the said two acres to the two Directors of Extreme Innovations without paying a single cent. In June 2010, Extreme Innovations requested UBC to transfer its (E.I) interests to a Chinese company, Sino East Africa Trading Hub and it was immediately done. SINO intended to set up an administrative and export development center for displaying Chinese products. Karoro Okurut and Margret Muhanga walked away with clean billions of shillings without investing anything. Later on Muhanga claimed that the marshy property that required $500,000 to rehabilitate made no business sense. E.I Ltd was set up in August 2008, it received the lease for the said UBC land on 7th December, 2009, five days later on December 7th it put the said land on market and sold it in July 2010 to SINO. Parliament raised up in army and attempted to censure Minister Karoro Okurut. The Police’s CIID also attempted to investigate conspiracy to defraud but Karoro and Muhanga refused to appear before them. At a caucus meeting in State House, Museveni acknowledged that he had given the two UBC land after they convinced him that they intended to set up a footwear factory. He soothed MPs into abandoning the censure move claiming that he was to handle the matter through the NRM caucus. That was the end of the story and the matter died a natural death. Its this impunity that later lured Muhanga into going for another 18 acres of UBC land that is currently being questioned.
On Farady Road alone in Bugolobi, UBC owned plots 8-10, 12-16 and 18-20 from which it curved out 18 acres that it had earlier intended to use in the construction of the Bugolobi Villa project that would comprise of 89 mansions and a club house. The project that was flagged off in 2008 was supposed to have been a joint venture between UBC and a certain Kenyan company was anticipated to generate US$13M from sale of the houses. The project stalled because of failure to secure the critical clearance and also the said Kenyan partner company gave its interest to Hassan Basajabalaba. In January 2011 Hassan Basajabalabe bought the said UBC 18 acres land though he later claimed to have bought 23.1 acres. In April 2011 Basajabalaba transferred the said land to his Haba group of companies. By August 2011 when the new Executive Director of UCB protested the sale by cancelling the sale agreement, the land had in question had already changed hands with new parties such as Deo & Sons, Margret Muhanga and SINBA (K) Ltd. Consequently, Deo & Sons sued UBC for cancellation of title yet they had brought the land from Haba Group.
The High Court ruled that the sale of land by Haba Group to Deo & Sons was illegal. Haba and Deo appealed to the Court of Appeal which also upheld the High Court’s ruling adding that the same had been illegal and fraudulent. They went to the Supreme Court but before the matter could be heard, they attempted to withdraw it on grounds that they had agreed on a consent judgement whereby UBC had agreed to pay 35.5b shillings but the Supreme Court rejected the withdraw and went ahead to hear the appeal before upholding the rulings of its subordinate courts and ordering UBC to refund Haba with 11.5b shillings. Margret Muhanga claims that it was after UBC had failed to refund 11.5b shillings that Deo & Sons sold the said land to her at 10.2b shillings. She went ahead to claim that Deo & Sons belongs to some army officers that she did not name. However, Deo & Sons Properties is a Limited liability company that was incorporated in Uganda in October 2008. Its Directors are Imam Mwebesa, James Magezi and Deogratius Obeowobusingye. Haba was incorporated in June 1996 and its directors are Hassan Basajabalaba, Muzamir Basajabalaba and Aisha Murungi. Available records show that UBC sold the land to Haba on 10th January, 2014, Haba in turn sold it to Deo & Sons on the same day at 12.46 p.m who in turn also sold it to Margret Muhanga two minutes later at 12.48 p.m.
Whatever the case, Margret Muhanga will retain the land. The regime Mafias have swung into action and the parliamentary committee will have to back off and they should not expect any further cooperation from the key players. The little information that they managed to extract from Margret Muhanga in the heat of passion is all that they will end at. That is what Museveni’s ‘Hakuna Mchezo’ means. Grabbing of public land has been and will Continue to take place by regime cronies. Butabika hospital land was taken by Museveni’s children, Nakasero, Kitante, Shimoni, Kololo, Nsambya railway, Naguru KCCA etc was taken then what is special with the ongoing UBC land saga.