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Departed Asians Property Custodian Board seal missing

The Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board (DAPCB) led by Hon. Matia Kasaija and Hon. Betty Amongi, appearing before COSASE. PHOTO via @pwatchug

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament has asked the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to investigate the whereabouts of the seal of the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board.

This follows a dispute between the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, and former Custodian Board Secretary Bernard Tumwesigire, who presented a custodian board stamp instead of a seal, saying it is what he was using since his appointment in 2009.

Although his contract was terminated in 2017, Tumwesigire has never handed over office together with the seal of the Custodian Board due to payment issues. He says he has unpaid wages amounting to more than 1 billion shillings, a claim which was rejected by Matia Kasaija.

The matter came up yesterday before a sub-committee of the Parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) which is currently probing the irregular administration of the departed Asians properties.

Although Parliament had directed the police to arrest Tumwesigire for refusing to hand over the Custodian Board seal, he surfaced towards the end of the session presenting a stamp and other documents to the committee.

However, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija told the committee that what the former custodian board secretary had presented was not acceptable. A seal is a stamping device attached to a document as a guarantee of authenticity.

This prompted the committee vice-chair Ibrahim Kasozi to direct the parliament CID to investigate the whereabouts of the seal, and also whether what was presented by Tumwesigire was what was handed to him.

In an interview with journalists, Tumwesigire maintained that he has never used any form of the seal but instead shifted the blame to Kasaija, who once served as the secretary of the board.

Parliament is investigating reports of the fraudulent acquisition of properties of the Asians who were evicted from the country during the Idi Amin’s regime.

The properties have been under the management of the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board, a government body that has been in charge of thousands of properties since 1983. Reports indicate that 1,676 properties had been sold, some repossessed, and compensated by 2009, while some 3,226 remain unsold and unclaimed.

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