CITY LAWYER MOVES TO SUE KLA TYCOON KARIM OVER AFAGHANIS HOTEL ACCOMODATION DEALS
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By Mulengera Reporters
Renowned Kampala public interest litigation lawyer Isaac K Semakadde is petitioning court to challenge the circumstances under which the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and that of Finance came to ring-fence the business of housing/accommodating the 2,000 Afghanistan evacuees who the US government wants to temporarily live in Uganda as their relocation to Uncle Sam’s land is being finalized.
Whereas the deal between the GoU and the US Embassy in Kampala is to have Uganda host up to 2,000 evacuees (many of them well qualified professionals) for an indefinite period of time, slightly more than 100 flew in this week. And there is a high likelihood the planned number of evacuees transiting through the Ugandan stopover could over time grow to 20,000 and more (should this piloting phase go well). All of those in Uganda so far are exclusively being accommodated at tycoon Karim Hirji’s Imperial Resort Hotel Entebbe, something the public-spirited lawyer Isaac Semakadde is vigorously contesting. He wants Court to compel the concerned government officials to explain the criterion that was used to select only the Imperial Group hotels yet there are many other equally good or even better facilities.
The flamboyant city lawyer asserts that under the country’s public procurement laws, all these hotel facilities are entitled to having equal chance to compete with Karim’s hotels so that they too are enabled to cash in. Speaking to journalists in Kampala this Saturday afternoon, Semakadde asserted that the PPDA rules require mandatory transparency, fairness and inclusiveness when such public procurement decisions are being made.
Renowned for always challenging such anomalous decisions by public bodies, Semakadde says he will be formally filing his case in court early next week. He says this is necessary because time has come for the “business cartels” the vastly connected mighty have been creating under the guise of the Covid19 pandemic which is being used as justification to circumvent public procurement principles, rules, laws and practices. The President of the Legal Brains Trust (which is celebrated for being a democracy and human rights watchdog organization) says government officials have been hiding behind the pandemic and the resultant emergency-like situation in the country to engage in “pandemic profiteering” which morally and legally can’t be justified.
Semakadde adds that he will be leveraging on the Ugandan laws in place to ensure that “this ring-fencing of business opportunities for cartels like the Imperial Group of hotels” is challenged, scrutinized and inquired into as to its legality. He wonders why the GoU, which conducted assessment on a wide range of accommodation facilities and certified many of them as good enough to host such Covid pandemic-related delegations or visitors coming into the country, “turns round and begins handpicking only one company while unlawfully depriving the others.”
He recalls that a number of hotels expressed interest and had their capabilities assessed and certified as good enough which is the reason why he, as a public-spirited lawyer working for the renowned watchdog organization, can simply not afford looking the other way when Imperial Group is being facilitated to become “a monopoly” regarding the lucrative business opportunities embedded in Uganda hosting thousands of Afghani evacuees as requested by the US government which (along with other partners) will be meeting all the expenses for their being in Uganda.
Insisting that back door deal-making won’t be tolerated to go unchallenged anymore, Semakadde claims that 2,000 is merely being quoted as a small number in order “to keep managing expectations” while preventing would-be Imperial Group’s competitors from developing appetite for the same business opportunity. “Otherwise in the long term, that number is going to grow to as much as 20,000 evacuees. And this is the reason we must use courts of law to curtail such deal-making by rogue-minded government officials while creating cartels” under the guise of the Covid pandemic-related emergency situation.
“If we don’t standup now, this culture and pattern of pandemic profiteering is going to become the order of the day in this country,” explained Semakadde also referencing on the vehicle-tracking chip deal which is already being separately challenged in the courts of law. The circumstances under which the Russian technology provider firm was chosen is one of things court is being implored to inquire into and pronounce itself.
Mulengera News separately understands that the very wealthy and generous Rockefeller Foundation will be meeting the cost of the Afghani evacuees’ stay in Uganda and much of the cash will be channeled through the International Refugee Council (IRC). Pundits, who share Semakadde’s pacificationist views, assert that RF or even IRC can’t be the ones to select hotels to be used to serve as hosting centers for the evacuees. The mechanism and details relating to the selection of the host centers is always left to be the business of the host country which in this case is Uganda. The funders will just effect payment once the host country has worked out the details relating to the contracting of the hotels and other accommodation facilities chosen for the purpose of hosting the evacuees.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).