FAMILY IN BIG DISARRAY AS STRANGE DISEASE STRIKES TYCOON MOHAN KIWANUKA
By Mulengera Reporters
Legendary tycoon Mohan Kiwanuka is a practicing Muslim and therefore not strange for him to be polygamous. And unknown to many people, his most famous wife Maria Kiwanuka Kiwana Nabasirye has for decades had to put up with a co-wife in the names Beatrice Kavuma Kiwanuka. Maria, who hails from the famous Kiwana family of Kyadondo and is closely related to the powerful Nsibirwa family, is the second wife who Mohan met in the lift of IPS Building decades ago. As we reported months ago, Mohan then worked as a company secretary for Uganda Development Bank (UDB) which was headquartered in IPS Building owned by H.E. Aga Khan. Maria too worked on the same building under a World Bank project.
The typical upper middle-class couple has been married for 34 years now having solemnized their marriage in 1986 and Maria has been consummating the marriage since that time. God has blessed them with three now adult children who are part of the 8 Mohan has fathered from his two spouses. But some three years ago, things gradually began falling apart after the two families began treating each other with extreme suspicion. Maria now stands accused of monopolizing Mohan’s company to the active exclusion of the mother and children from the other family. And consequently, two active factions have emerged one led by Jordan Sebuliba Kiwanuka (Beatrice’s son) and the other by Sabri Kiwanuka Kyamukungubya who is Maria’s son.
The two sons are making wild allegations and having clearly failed to get reconciled by extended family members and ailing Mohan’s high-profile friends, the matter has since been filed in the Civil Division of the High Court where it has been registered as 249 of 2019. It was filed by Sebuliba clearly seeking protection against former Minister Maria Kiwanuka whom he accuses of trying to take advantage of Mohan’s frail state of mental health to get him cede too much powers in her favor regarding control and management of his vast estate.
Wealthy Mohan has huge stake in mineral business, manufacturing/Oscar Industries is his; media business (solely owns highly successful Radio 1 and Radio 2) and in real estate. As a real estate mogul, the reclusive businessman owns residential and commercial properties in the Kampala posh neighborhoods of Kololo (where he lives too), Naguru, Nakaero, Nakawa and Kiwatule. In the Kololo and Nakasero neighborhoods alone, he is a landlord to 13 North American and European embassies.
Mohan easily falls under what is famously called “old money” and yet he doesn’t show off. One of the persons who adequately know and appreciate his humility, patience and satisfaction with material things must be the President of Uganda. After the 2006 campaigns, having been contracted to print his campaign materials under Oscar Industries, a balance of Shs900m remained unpaid. Being who he is, Kiwanuka kept calm and carried on with his activities. In 2011, President Museveni sent several billions seeking production of campaign materials for his reelection campaign.
Oscar Industries took the order and delivered the consignment. But it was visibly less by the equivalent of Shs900mm. On being told about it, Museveni picked a phone and rang Mohan directly. “He told him my Shs900m remained pending from the 2006 campaigns and we had to deduct the money,” sources reminisce what Kiwanuka told the H.E. A shocked Museveni wondered why Mohan suffered for all those years without claiming his balance “yet we have been meeting many times.” Mohan said its okay sir. From that time Museveni realized Kiwanuka wasn’t the type of the show off city tycoons that would ever be out bragging about anything.
Another incidence proving that his humility is inborn and not accidental occurred in 2011 when Mohan declined Museveni’s plea to serve as Finance Minister and instead suggested his wife saying having worked with WB, she was more appropriate. But the day Maria turned up to begin work at Finance Ministry, many were left shocked including wealthy PSST Keith Muhakanizi. They had prepared what they thought was a befitting new vehicle for her as a new Minister but they immediately withdrew it to find a more appropriate one on seeing the brand-new private family vehicle she reported with.
Yet despite all those material accomplishments, Mohan has always lived a very reclusive life. A senior city scribe recently shared another experience corroborating the Mohan humility. This was in the city suburb of Kabusu where the young man had gone to meet another city tycoon to source a story and as he arrived, he found the man who was introduced to him as Mohan Kiwanuka was departing from meeting the same tycoon for some business talks. “He didn’t have a vehicle and asked for how long are you meeting this young man? I’m heading to industrial area and If he doesn’t mind, I can wait a little bit for him to drop me there in his car,” the talkative scribe recalls. “I told him but sir my vehicle is too old and unfit for a man of your status. He insisted it was okay if I didn’t mind, I can drop him there and that is what happened but through the journey I was touched by his humility.”
YET VERY SOPHISTICATED
Yet beneath that humility lies one of Uganda’s most successful and most sophisticated business moguls. For instance, Sebuliba’s court papers show that the 46 properties and land titles he is disputing over with his stepmother Maria Kiwanuka is just a small fraction of the man’s entire estate. And one of the things greatly intriguing Sebuliba (a practicing lawyer officed at Plot 10 Aki-Bua Road Nakasero which too is owned by Mohan) is the fact that four months ago (May 2019 to be exact) his stepmother Maria Kiwanuka rushed to URSB and got herself registered as the chief signatory and controller for many of the companies Mohan owns. She in effect became the sole director in the companies yet since being married to him in 1986, she had never been registered anywhere as Director or shareholder. She officially was only designated as General Manager for Radio 1 and Radio 2 (Kaboozi ku biri).
Actually, Mohan appended his signature on the papers Maria used to consolidate her authority in the companies and the entire family estate. Sebuliba is intrigued that using her new status since May 2019, Maria has since ensured he (Sebuliba) has been removed from being Company Secretary (chief lawyer in simple terms) for 6 of his father’s most successful companies yet he has been part of them for the last 15 years. Mohan made things even more complicated for Sebuliba, his mum Beatrice and the other siblings by recently writing to them directing that they vacate some of the properties they have been occupying by virtue of being his children and spouse.
Reason given was that he sometime back contracted a Shs10bn debt to go into marble mining business in Karamoja’s Matheniko County. That things didn’t go well and the loan is now growing hence justifying need to dispose of some properties and pay it off before further escalation. Sebuliba, his mum and siblings now suspect all this is a result of Maria Kiwanuka using her new position in the businesses to mount pressure on Mohan to their own detriment.
On Monday 2nd September, things further escalated when Sebuliba who had been reluctant to vacate the Aki Bua property had his office raided by men who looked like Kanyamas and court bailiffs. They were more than 60 and tried to forcefully evict him from the office. He has since reported the matter to police claiming extreme violence was directed at him and his employees at office. He now suspects this attack could be related to his battles with his stepmother in the High Court civil division. He has since obtained a court order to consolidate his continued occupation of the Aki Bua property.
Sebuliba, his mum and siblings are also faulting Maria Kiwanuka for shrewdly taking advantage of the frail mental state Mohan Kiwanuka is in (they say he suffers from Alzheimer-accelerated dementia) to manipulatively get him sign off many documents in her favor and her children to their own detriment regarding his vast estate. Legally they are arguing that this diminished ability to sufficiently understand things makes many of the pro-Maria Kiwanuka transactions and transfer of responsibilities a nullity in law since the big man lacks the mental capacity to adequately understand the consequences of his actions and omissions.
Arguing that as someone who in 2017 escorted Mohan to the UK where neuro surgeons examined him and established he was suffering from that dementia condition Maria is knowingly leading his father into signing away much of his estate, Sebuliba is pondering applying to court to sanction fresh mental medical examination of Mohan to establish the extent to which dementia has impaired his ability to judge situations correctly.
Dementia-causing Alzheimer, as a medical condition, diminishes the functionality of the human brain causing the sufferer to significantly lose his memory and forget things so often. Close friends say Mohan these days suffers similar symptoms to the extent that when they visit him at home, he greets them repeatedly clearly forgetting he greeted them already. Vice President Sekandi’s elder sister (who is wife to former Kabaka Minister Owek Robert Sebunya) is another eminent Ugandan who famously suffers from a similar condition.
There are fears that unless someone close to the family, at the level of the President who is actually one of Mohan’s best friends, intervenes sitting down the warring factions to talk and peacefully resolve their differences regarding property, this impending court battle could leave one of Uganda’s most admired families torn to pieces and beyond repair. A family member siding with Maria Kiwanuka claimed to Mulengera News that the Sebuliba faction members have now resorted to riding on the former minister’s name to blackmail her before the public having realized theirs is a bad case that won’t be easily sustainable before courts of law. Watch this space! (For comments, call/text us on 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).