HOW NABANJA COMPLICATED THINGS FOR BYABAKAMA OVER NEW EC HEADQUARTERS
By Mulengera Reporters
If you didn’t know how and why Gen Museveni came to direct the Electoral Commission to take up space in the Industrial Area location which originally housed headquarters of National Housing & Construction Corporation, just read this. The circumstances were that the EC, whose continued stay at the Kitgum House/Jinja Road premises was delaying the completion of Kampala Flyover project by UNRA, had been prevailed over by a debt-stricken powerful politician in Uganda to take over an alternative piece of land in Namanve Industrial Park. And situate their headquarters there.
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The powerful politician had successfully leveraged on their friendship with EC Chairman Simon Byabakama to get the EC take up the waterlogged Namanve land unsuitable as it was. Majority members of EC top management had cowed in on grounds that the high-flying politician’s vast connection would be harnessed to benefit or even shield the Electoral body someday.
However, a whistle blower tipped Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja who quickly brought the matter to the attention of the President. Nabanja was the right person to do this because, as Prime Minister, she chairs the Policy Committee of Cabinet which Gen Museveni recently tasked to ensure all titles issued in relation to land which is in wetlands are cancelled. And indeed at the instigation of this same Committee, more than 300 titles in wetlands were canceled including some belonging to the powerful politician.
Unfortunately, one of the powerful politician’s titles that were cancelled related to 10 acres of land located in Namanve whose title cancelation Nabanja defended before the President on grounds that it was in the wetland which government, through NEMA, decreed many years ago had to be preserved to avoid flooding the Namanve Industrial Park. The bad thing was that the powerful politician had, prior to cancelation, sold this 10 acres of land to a one Mr. Mafabi, a local investor, working in consort with other foreign investors.
So when the subsequent title was canceled, Mr. Mafabi petitioned the Lands Ministry PS Dorcas Okalany demanding reinstatement of his land title. The alternative was that the GoU, through the Lands Ministry, reimburses the Shs3bn they had paid to the powerful politician for the land. Renowned for not being one who can easily be intimidated, Okalany assured Mr. Mafabi that the government wouldn’t even compensate him with a penny. “Go to court and sue against the one to whom you gave your Shs3bn. Did you ever give it to this Ministry or anyone in government? So, I don’t want to see your lousy petitions here again,” the PS told off Mr. Mafabi who considered suing the powerful politician for the recovery of his Shs3bn.
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The resultant financial pressures pushed the powerful politician to begin looking for money very aggressively. That’s how the EC came into the picture. The idea was that since the EC is a government entity, NEMA and the Lands Ministry would be reluctant to cancel the title and force them out of the Namanve wetland. “I’m not chairing that Cabinet Policy Committee in vain. It’s for a reason and the President made me chair it as Prime Minister because he wanted it to be high profile. Allowing EC, which is a government entity, to take over the wetland and construct its headquarters there will reverse all the gains we have made to reclaim these wetlands,” sources quoted Nabanja as explaining herself to the EC top leadership.
On realizing Nabanja wasn’t going to be easy to overcome, the powerful politician resorted to pressurizing the Lands Ministry Commissioners but none of them has so far been able to do the needful (which is reinstatement of the cancelled land titles) because Nabanja has consistently made it clear to them that whoever ever commits such illegality will have to be prosecuted and end up either in Luzira or Kitalya Prison. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).