Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises-COSASE chairperson, Mubarak Munyagwa has formed a subcommittee to investigate fraudulent acquisition of departed Asians’ property.
In 1983, the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board was put in charge of between 9,000 to 10,000 properties of Asians who were evicted from Uganda during President Idi Amin’s era.
However, by 2009, 1,676 properties had been sold, some repossessed, compensated while some 3,226 remain unsold and unclaimed.
Mubarak has tasked Makindye East MP, Ibrahim Kasozi, to chair the subcommittee which has nine members. They include Rubanda woman MP, Prossy Mbabazi, Samia Bugwe County MP, Gideon Onyango, Kyegegwa Woman MP, Stella Kiiza, Ruhinda county MP, Captain Donozia Kahonda and Kampala Central MP, Muhammad Nsereko.
Other members of the subcommittee include Iganga Municipality MP, Peter Mugema Twesigye Nathan Itungo ( Kashari South) and Jinja East MP, Paul Mwiru.
Mubarak set up the subcommittee following allegations tabled by Kasozi that some individuals including Sudhir Ruparelia, Godfrey Kirumira, Mohamed Alibhai , Mumtaz Kassam among others acquired some properties of departed Asians fraudulently.
Mumtaz is the Deputy Head of Mission for Uganda in Rome-Italy.
Kasozi told the committee members that some of the individuals took over the properties and some do not have proof of ownership.
He made the revelation when the members of the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board appeared before COSASE to respond to audit queries raised in the report of the Auditor General for financial year 2015/2016.
Among the queries was that the Board had not filed books of accounts since 1999.
However, the Board Executive Secretary, George William Bizibu, told the committee that the Board filed its first set of accounts in the 2017/2018 financial year, the first in fifteen years.
Kasozi, however, asked Bizibu to first explain how Alibhai and Mumtaz acquired over 100 properties in Old Kampala, Kololo Hill drive, Namirembe road, Kawempe, Bukoto.
Kasozi added that M/S Sikh Saw Millers and Ginners Ltd is accused of acquiring properties in Jinja without the authority of the board. For instance, the company repossessed plots 36 and 38 Nile Crescent Jinja and that in 1992, it also irregularly allocated the properties to M/S Loyal Small Scales Industries Ltd.
Board executive Secretary, Bizibu agreed with Kasozi who also demanded for investigations into status of properties of departed Asians. MP Nsereko, as committee lead counsel, asked Bizibu to respond to questions regarding fraudulent dealings.
He says that the investigations will also facilitate in winding up the board. The board was expected to wind up in 1994 but is still operational.
The subcommittee will commence its proceedings next Tuesday.
Currently, the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board is chaired by finance minister, Matia Kasaija, lands minister, Betty Amongi, Minister of State for Local Government, Jenipher Namuyangu, Minister of State for Industry and Cooperatives-Michael Kafabusa Werikhe, Gen.Caleb Akandwanaho also known as Salim Saleh, Farouq Lubega and the executive secretary, George William Bizibu.
The Board is mandated by the Assets of Departed Asians Act,1983 to take over and manage all assets transferred to it.
The Expropriated Properties Act, 1987 also empowers the minister of finance (board chairperson) to transfer to the former owner of any property in the government, and that where a former owner of any property or business does not apply for repossession within 120 days, the minister may make an order that the property or business be retained by the government or be sold or disposed of in such a manner as may be stipulated in the regulations.