KAMPALA, UGANDA: Parliament has adopted recommendations of the Ad hoc Committee on the Naguru-Nakawa land holding several current and former ministers and the Uganda Land Commission liable for the illegal land dealings.
The report presented by Committee Chairperson, Hon. Dan Kimosho on 18 May 2022 recommends that the Minister for Lands then, Hon. Persis Namuganza directed the Uganda Land Commission to allocate land to entities on purported instructions from the President.
“Hon. Persis Namuganza be held accountable for abuse of office for misleading the ULC into allocation of land to individuals and entities following presidential directive which were non-existent,” Kimosho said.
The land totaling to 142 acres was withdrawn from Opec Prime Properties Ltd which had been allocated the land in 2007 to develop a satellite city in the estate. The contract was to construct 1,747 residential units for purchase by the registered tenants of the Nakawa- Naguru Housing Estate having the first priority. The project was expected to be complete in 10 years.
The report implicates former Deputy Attorney, Mwesigwa Rukutana, then Lands Minister, Betty Amongi and former ULC chair, Baguma Isoke for undue influence leading to re-entry into the Naguru land which portrayed government in what is described as bad light.
“This resulted in government paying shs50 million as the ministers were found guilty of contempt of court. The monies that were ordered by court to be paid by ministers but was paid by government should be recovered from them,” the report reads in part.
The report also faults ULC for bypassing the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act when it publicized land allocations using brokers and simple notices on its premises.
“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 then Minister of Lands Hon. Betty Kamya and the technical team, they had an influx of applications. In order to handle the applications, they issued a notice detailing the requirements which the applicants should submit alongside their applications,” said Kimosho.
The committee noted that the commission never issued an advert for the available public land which he said was a non- transparent process devoid of integrity expected of a public entity. MPs called for the censure of the ULC secretary and all commissioners and recommended that a competent team be instituted to save 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 (NRM, Buvuma islands County).
Hon. Mbwatekamwa Gafa (NRM, Igara County West) said it was shocking to hear a person in the stature of a minister engaging in such a venture of low integrity.
“Hon. Namuganza has a responsibility and she must tell this House how this happened. People should be held responsible including some commissioners,” said Mbwatekamwa.
Namuganza insisted that she met the president over the matter in 2020 in the presence of the commission although the committee could not find evidence of the directive from the President to allocate 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.
The Third Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Rukia Nakadama promised to table the committee findings before the cabinet and that action would be taken against culpable 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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