Uganda: Ministers Miss Parliament Probe Over Asians Properties

Some ministers managing the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) yesterday missed a meeting with the parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) select taskforce.

The Cosase taskforce is investigating circumstances under which more than 4,000 departed Asians properties across the country that were compensated by the state after their owners failed to return for repossession ended up in the hands of individuals and private companies.

The committee, headed by Makindye West MP Ibrahim Kasoozi, had summoned the directors of DAPCB chaired by Finance minister Matia Kasaija to explain the property mismanagement.

Other members who were supposed to appear include Lands minister Betty Amongi, Attorney General William Byaruhanga, Minister of State for Local Government Jeniffer Namuyangu, State minister for Industry and Cooperatives Michael Werikhe, and Gen Caleb Akandwanaho, popularly known as Salim Saleh, who is a "co-opted member."

However, none of them appeared prompting MP Kasozi to adjourn the sitting to next week. "We cannot proceed with only one person who has appeared. I beg the relevant members to always accord this committee the respect it deserves. We are not doing this for personal gains but for the benefit of the whole nation," Mr Kasoozi said.

Mr Kasaija, who journalists met outside Parliament main entrance, a few minutes after the committee adjourned, said his team was attending to other state duties. He, however, said they will appear next week.

The executive secretary of DAPCB, Mr George William Bizibu, while appearing before the same committee on Tuesday, revealed that top government officials possess some of the properties.

Among the top government officials being investigated are Mr Byaruhanga, who the MPs want to explain how the already compensated properties landed in the hands of individuals, and Minister Amongi for alleged attempt to sell property on Lugogo by-pass, Kampala.

Maj Gen (rtd) Kasirye Gwanga and Gender Ministry Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana are being investigated for allegedly securing ownership of some properties in Kololo, among others.

Meanwhile, Mr Bizibu, who has been at the helm of the DAPCB for about two years, said the board does not have information on the current ownership of several plots despite the records indicating that they were compensated by the government.

Some of the properties in prime areas of Kampala that are in the records of DAPCB and whistleblower documents in the hands of MPs as having been compensated but dubiously acquired or registered in some individual names include Plot 20 Parliament Avenue, Plot 3 Market Street, Plots 6, 8, 10 and 12 Namirembe Road, Plot 14A George Street and Plot 7 Bombo Road.

Others are Plot 4A Kampala Road, Plot 16 Mackenzi Road, Plot 68 Bukoto Street, Plot 11 Kololo, Plot 37 Rashid Kamis Road, Plot 66 William Street, Plots 68-70 Kira road, and, Plot 9 Mbuya Road.

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