By John V Sserwaniko
Former Chief Justice Ben Kiwanuka’s son and heir, Amb Maurice Kagimu, has threatened to sue Kabaka Mutebi’s young brother Prince David Wassajja for the negative characterization he made of his late father last week during an appearance before Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Land Commission of Inquiry. Appearing to corroborate on his complaint challenging Dr. Mohammed Kasasa Buwule’s (disputed) ownership of the 640 acres of land comprising the entire Mutungo, Kagimu said it was unacceptable misrepresentation of facts for Wassajja to describe his father as a fraudster. In his last week submission to the Commission, Wassajja eloquently argued that the Mutungo land belonged to his father Sir Edward Mutesa II and that the same land ended up being owned by Kasasa because of the original fraud Ben Kiwanuka (then a leading high-flying lawyer) committed onto his father’s estate. He said Kiwanuka was one of the street-wise Kampalans who took advantage of Mutesa’s vulnerable situation following his deportation to London exile by Milton Obote following the 1966 army invasion on Lubiri and eventual abolition of kingdoms. He specifically accused Kiwanuka of using his law firm to come up with fake Powers of Attorney that Andrew Paul Kintu Kwemalamala (who the Commission says was a fictitious person who never existed) was claimed to have relied upon to purchase Kabaka’s land from his sister Victoria Nalinya Mpologoma. It was from Kwemalamala, whose fictitious character even Kagimu couldn’t dispute during his Monday appearance, that Lake View Properties (a company in which Ben Kiwanuka was the main personality) purported to have bought the land which controversially became Dr. Kasasa’s in 1978 after the company’s voluntary winding up. Wassajja’s submission was that Kiwanuka, whose ill-will towards the Mutesa family many have since told royal family members about, committed fraud by forging Mutesa’s signature on the Power of Attorney and also by shrewdly coordinating the fraudulent transfer of the land from Kwemalamala to Lake View Properties. It was from this company that Kasasa eventually acquired the land through contacting lawyer Lawrence Sebalu who was the only surviving director/shareholder as of 1978 (majority of the others including ex-BoU Governor Joseph Mubiru having died earlier on). Wassajja’s unequivocal utterances were widely publicized in the press, something Kagimu says was defamatory and caused untold agony to the family and friends who considered Ben Kiwanuka a man of impeccable integrity.
Saying he was determined to go down fighting both Wassajja and Kasasa to ensure he successfully claims back the Mutungo land which he says rightly belonged to his father, Kagimu used the Monday inquiry session to repeatedly demand that Wassajja retracts his utterances or else he risks being sued for defamation. Just like Commissioner Robert Sebunya said last week, Kagimu maintained that Kiwanuka was a man of high integrity and there is no way he could commit the acts Wassajja says about him. “He missed being Prime Minister because of his strong principles and eventually lost his life because he stuck to the truth and risked the Amin wrath. There is no way such a person could do the things Prince Wassajja says of him,” said Kagimu whose narrative was characterized by many as incoherent as there was a lot he couldn’t corroborate when faced with tough questioning by Commissioners Rose Nakayi, George Bagonza, Fred Ruhindi and Owek Robert Sebunya. He said his family suffered the fraud orchestrated by Sebalu who fraudulently proceeded to dispose the company property without making any reference to the administrators of estates of fellow directors and shareholders who had become deceased as of 1978. He said Sebalu had committed acts of dishonesty and fraud even on Ben Kiwanuka who always forgave him. He cited examples of situations over which the two sharply disagreed including the battle to separately acquire the 4 acres that comprise the Summit of Mutungo Hill. He said in the end Kiwanuka prevailed but Sebalu remained angry and never forgave him. He insisted that his father travelled to London and paid Shs100,000 to Sir Edward as the purchase price for the land but couldn’t coherently explain the form in which the payment was made to Mutesa. Drawing on his strong knowledge of Buganda history, Sebunya put it to him it’s very likely that never happened. Kagimu insisted Kiwanuka travelled with Mpologoma to London to meet Mutesa but couldn’t adduce any proof that the two travelled. He said because Shs100,000 was too much at that time, Kiwanuka mobilized fellow rich men like Sebalu, Mubiru and others to be able to raise the money because he personally had only Shs50,000. Kagimu, many of whose documents were despised by the Commission as risky to rely on, kept insisting on quoting from Prof AB Kasozi’s book titled “The Bitter Bread of Exile.” It chronicles the misery Mutesa lived in exile. Unable to coherently counter Nakayi’s facts quoting from the British government report which accused Ben Kiwanuka of working with others to profit and derive economic advantage from Mutesa’s confinement in the UK (and inability to freely transact on his land in Uganda), Kagimu was told by Bamugemereire it was simply risky for the Commission to disregard information from other witnesses on Mutungo and exclusively rely on his uncorroborated facts. He puzzled the Commission when he insisted on relying on the Power of Attorney which Wassajja last week proved to the Commission was defective as Mutesa’s signature thereon was forged. Kagimu carried a letter written by Kyomuhendo Bishereko from Administrator General’s office as proof his POA was okay but the Commissioners didn’t pay attention to the letter. His other brother Flugentio Musoke had earlier on submitted a written narrative whose contents contradicted some of the things Kagimu was saying including the manner in which Mutesa received the money from Ben Kiwanuka. Nakayi said it wouldn’t be proper for the Commission to disregard the elder brother’s revelations in favor of Kagimu’s who was merely 11 years when Ben Kiwanuka died. He indeed admitted that his late mother was the major source of his information as she lived up to the 1990s. Bamugemereire responded to his calls on the Commission to “prevail” on Wassajja to retract his characterization by saying such would inspire the children of others like Milton Obote and Lawrence Sebalu whose parents he (Kagimu) had talked ill about to also come to her demanding the same action against him. Yet Kiwanuka isn’t the first to complain of unflattering media portrayal arising from the Commission proceedings. Last week, Dr. Kasasa cried out begging Bamugemereire to prevail over the pro-Kabaka media especially BBS TV whose presenters he said contemptuously referred to him as “a muyaye [which means a hooligan].” While generally calling on the media to report with restraint, Bamugemereire implied to Kasasa there wasn’t much the Commission could do. Asked on the possibility of amicable settlement, Kagimu said he was open and willing to sit down and discuss with Kasasa and the Wassajja group for a win-win situation because he admits resolving the very complex matter through courts of law isn’t going to be easy.
VOWING ON KASASA
While saying he wasn’t worried of the Wassajjas because to him “their father sold and got the money,” Kagimu vowed to die with Kasasa until he recovers his father’s land. Saying there was a high possibility Kwemalamala was a fictitious person brought into the picture to circumvent potential political harassment by Obote who was ready to crush anyone trying to economically help Mutesa, Kagimu said his father was the main person behind Lake View Properties but preferred to remain in the background on many things fearing reprisals by the Obote machinery unto the company. He said he was more than certain that Kasasa’s purchase of the land was shrouded in total fraud and blamed Kasasa for not carrying out enough due diligence to verify what Sebalu disclosed to him. “I’m here for a solution and if the Commission doesn’t help me I’m taking the matter to court to battle with Dr. Kasasa,” Kagimu repeatedly said. Asked about his relationship with puzzled tenants living on the land, Kagimu said “many of them know Ben Kiwanuka as the owner of the land because to them, there is nothing called Lake View.” Referring to four anti-Kasasa petitions from Mutungo residents, Bamugemereire rejected Kagimu’s claim saying “most of them confess that their land lord is the Kabaka and not anyone else.” At some point when questions became too much, Kagimu (who at some point was tasked to explain how Mutesa came to all of a sudden be close to trust Ben Kiwanuka so much given their well-known misunderstandings) complained of Commissioners being biased against his claim. This prompted Bamugemereire to remind him that the same style of raising hard questions had been used during the Wassajja and Kasasa sessions earlier.