BETI KAMYA FINALLY GETS CHANCE TO FIX BYENKYA
By Mulengera Reporters
When she was Minister of Lands, Beti Kamya (current IGG) faced off with many adversaries and key among them was Uganda Land Commission (ULC) Chairperson Beatrice Byenkya Nyakayisiki. Each time they appeared before Parliament, Byenkya (a former Hoima Woman MP) always behaved very belligerently towards Kamya who was her line Minister and political supervisor. At some point, Byenkya went as far as disputing Kamya’s supervisory authority over her.
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Sometime last December, the two appeared before the Physical Infrastructure Committee then headed by Nakifuma MP Eng Kafeero Sekitoleko and Byenkya undressed Kamya like never before. MPs were inquiring into the (mis)management of the more than 50 acres of land comprising of what was famously known as Nakawa-Naguru estates. There was a long list of people who dubiously got plots for themselves there prompting MPs to raise a red flag about mismanagement which Byenkya attributed to interference into ULC’s work by politicians like Kamya.
The two ladies bitterly exchanged that day and yet Byenkya had elsewhere accused the Minister of trying to usurp her powers regarding the management of billions of shillings that is annually allocated to ULC to facilitate government acquisition of land from absentee landlords for the benefit of title-less Bibanja holders. Each time the two jointly appeared before Parliament, Sekitoleko had to get someone to sit between them to prevent potential physical confrontation.
A few months ago, Beti Kamya ceased to be Minister after the President (before making her IGG) replaced her with Judith Nabakooba who equally hasn’t had an excellent relationship with Byenkya who critics fault for naturally being very belligerent. Before Kamya there was Betty Amongin who equally had a cold relationship with Byenkya; often accusing her of combativeness and insubordination. Parsis Namuganza, the State Minister under both Kamya and Amongin, equally didn’t have good relations with Byenkya whose supporters say is always disliked by her political supervisors because she is straight and incorruptible.
Beti Kamya was posted to become IGG at a time ULC was undergoing turmoil after some of the staff members and Commissioners ganged up proclaiming a vote of no confidence in Byenkya who they described as fatally unfit to remain their chairperson. They accused her of many things and as these accusations kept flying around, the aggrieved petitioned many offices including that of the IGG. Renowned for being very vindictive, Beti Kamya must have seen this as an opportunity to revenge on Byenkya for the torment she subjected her to when still serving as Lands Minister.
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CRACKING THE WHIP
Now in her two page letter, dated Thursday 18th December, Beti Kamya has ordered for the interdiction of Beatrice Byenkya ostensibly to enable investigations into her conduct as had earlier been reported by whistleblowers to the IGG. These whistleblowers have over the past few months included Commissioners whose claims were further corroborated by Nabakooba in her 12th October letter to the same IGG.
Kamya says the allegations being made against Byenkya by ULC Commissioners are very serious and merit comprehensive inquiry by the IGG yet the same can only happen when she isn’t in office. That remaining in office will enable her to interfere with the investigations by the IG. While directing Nabakooba to immediately interdict Byenkya (requiring her to step aside and stay away from office for an indefinite period), Kamya asserts that both the Constitution [Article 230(2) & the IG Act Section 14(6)] empower her to direct interdiction of anyone in the interest of smoothening investigations into that officer’s conduct. Kamya’s letter is copied to a number of big offices including the Attorney General, PSST Ramathan Goobi, Deputy IGG Anne Twinomugisha, IG Secretary Rose Kafeero and Byenkya herself.
BIGGER BYENKYA WAR
In their numerous petitions, the ULC Commissioners have sustainably accused Byenkya, their chairperson, of a number of things including sabotaging the Commission’s work. Whereas her supporters cite it as evidence of her incorruptibility, the Commissioners (during their 6-7th October meeting) accused Byenkya of detrimentally writing letters (30th Sept 2021) to Bank of Uganda halting all Land Fund-related transactions or payments and (on 2nd October) to CID enumerating a list of ULC employees who she considered corrupt.
In fact, acting on the Byenkya whistleblowing, CID Director Grace Akullo had commenced investigations targeting a number of officials including the ULC Secretary Barbra Imaryo who is very close to a certain UPDF General who is also a Minister. However, the investigations took a strange turn after the CID operatives Akullo had assigned developed cold feet having feared resultant confrontation from SFC officers who guard the highly connected Imaryo. The Commissioners considered it sabotage for Byenkya to write to BoU stopping payments of landlords whose Mailo land had earlier on been surrendered to the GoU for redistribution to Bibanja holders. She claimed the lists of alleged landlords supposed to share billions contained ghosts which must be weeded out first.
The Commissioners also accused Byenkya of engagement in mere rumor-mongering as opposed to providing hard facts to back up her claims implicating some key ULC staffers in fraud. That instead of blowing up things through CID and reporting to BoU, Byenkya should have quietly raised the matters internally to enable the very management (she was complaining against) to inquire into them. That the best practice is to exhaust the internal mechanisms within the Commission before referring matters to Police.
They also accused her of being belligerent and incapable of team work even after line Minister Judith Nabakooba organized a series of reconciliation meetings at Hotel Africana between Byenkya and her accusers. Byenkya was also accused of having vendetta against staff at ULC many of whom are well performing. That such staff’s outstanding performance had previously been taken note of by the Committee of Land Management that is based in the Lands Ministry.
Byenkya was also faulted for objecting to demands by the rest of the Commissioners that the Auditor General intervenes into the crisis at ULC by conducting a forensic audit into the alleged mismanagement of the Land Fund which the Chairperson has for long been demanding to be transferred to the mother Lands Ministry in order to deescalate tensions at ULC because, in her view, all the wrangling at the Uganda Land Commission is related to desire by some insiders to orchestrate fraud (by paying money to fictitious landlords/claimants) as others fight hard to stop the same. That Byenkya’s rumor-mongering and unsubstantiated claims against some beneficiaries of the Land Fund (absentee landlords) had complicated relations between the ULC and other agencies of government including the Finance Ministry whose officials have sometimes contradicted Byenkya’s letters to BoU.
The Commissioners also further complicated their relationship with Chairperson Byenkya by demanding that the ULC Secretary Barbara Imaryo uses government money and hires a private lawyer or law firm to defend senior Commission staff facing CID criminal investigations at the instigation of whistleblower Byenkya whose 2nd October 2021 letter is what Akullo based on to commence investigations into alleged fraud at ULC. The anti-Byenkya dossier (covering 3 pages) was signed by the following ULC Commissioners: Prof Pen Mogi Nyeko (ex-VC Gulu University), Charles K Muhoozi, Stella Acan, Hajji Asuman Kyafu (ex-Iganga LCV Chairman), Bujara Rukiika, Hajjat Madna Nsereko, NRM Cadre Tom John Fischer Kasenge and Barbara Imaryo. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org).