HOW MWENDA LOST CHANCE TO BECOME SAFE HOUSE OWNER
By Mulengera Reporters
A social media post by Andrew Mwenda castigating MPs for storming a wrong house in Kabowa demanding access to it claiming it was one of the ISO-manned torture centers aka safe houses they are investigating, has sparked debate. While reacting to the Tuesday visits by MPs to a number of houses they blanketly claimed to be safe houses (only to be blocked on orders of ISO boss Kaka), Mwenda wondered why the well-facilitated legislators can’t ever get their facts right.
He admits he knows the GoU has safe houses where torture takes place but his uncle’s property in Kabowa isn’t one of them. He says MPs were mistaken because his uncle lives in his own house in Kabowa meaning there is no way the same property can be a torture house manned by ISO. Mwenda’s social media rant has, as expected, attracted lots of feedback from social media users including those bashing and concurring with him regarding the mediocrity with which MPs act sometimes.
But our story is purposed at something different and this is to do with Mwenda’s unsuccessful attempt to become safe house owner. Prompted by this latest Mwenda discussion, we share this little story regarding how the man from Kanyandahi narrowly missed being an owner of a government-rented safe house. And here is what happened. Some years ago, when amiable Gen Charles Bakahumura still headed CMI, Mwenda happened to be in Rwakitura relaxing with him when the H.E. picked his phone and rang the CMI boss.
Museveni interrupted his chat with Mwenda to ring Bakahumura giving him instructions on the need to obtain a secure safe house. It didn’t have to be any safe house but one with clear specifications. Government urgently required a posh lakeside property for the purpose of housing one of the President’s special high-profile guests from Somalia. The Somalia guest had to quietly live somewhere in Uganda as the big man from Rwakitura bought time to reconcile him rival factions back home.
Being the shrewd businessman, he is, Mwenda took this very seriously. Bakahumura’s task was to identify the property fitting the required specifications, do the negotiations with the owners and put him/her in touch with Gen Proscovia Nalweyiso to pay for the property rental fees. The state was to pay an upfront for 5 years at a rate of $50,000 per month. These are always very classified assignments and GoU desired to rent the property for a period of five years -and all this is proof that (whereas safe houses have blanketly been demonized to be synonymous with torture) they are sometimes used for the safe habitation of the President’s politically very sensitive guests from across Great Lakes region.
Now back to Mwenda; the very entrepreneurial journalist (now in full possession of all the information having eavesdropped on Museveni’s phone conversation) determined to cash in on the deal. He very quickly surveyed around and realized the lake side properties with the specifications the H.E. described to Bakahumura were plentifully available and he only lacked the money to acquire one and eventually rent it to the state.
Realizing he needed up to $100,000 to acquire the property and begin cashing in on the $50,000 the state was offering per month, Mwenda rang his financial godfather Sudhir Ruparelia whose Crane Bank still operated. Dr. Sudhir told him to find the nearest Crane Bank branch and call him back once he accesses the manager. And that’s what happened; Mwenda got the money and acquired the property. He now embarked on the rigorous process to lobby Nalweyiso and other President’s handlers to give him the deal claiming CMI was his witness his lakeside property was appropriate and meets the required specifications.
However, his hopes were erased when the Nalweyisos (who are charged with facilitating Generals doing such classified tasks) declined to play ball and refused his offer to rent his lakeside property to them to host the H.E.’s specialist guests from Somalia. In the end, the very talkative veteran journalist became stuck; the loan-funded property was in his possession but with no body to take it up. Consequently, that is how he ended up on the famous list of creditors who had pending loans with Crane Bank at the time of its closure by BoU whose bosses he has never stopped faulting for cracking the whip on his man Sudhir Ruparelia over many breaches including giving out unsecured loans. (For comments, call or text us on 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).