By John V Sserwaniko
In a bid to acquaint herself more with the decades old land wrangle regarding ownership of the more than 640 acres of land comprising Mutungo parish, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire designated Tuesday as the day to visit the much disputed locus in quo. At the center of the wrangling are members of the Buganda royal family (led by Prince Wassajja and other Sir Edward Mutesa children) on one hand and veteran city tycoon Dr. Mohammed Kasasa on the other. Mutesa’s children say their father’s land was fraudulently deprived by a group of shrewd high-flying Kampalans led by Ben Kiwanuka who in 1960s took advantage of the destruction the Obote-orchestrated 1966 crisis occasioned on Buganda kingdom to get free land for themselves. Kasasa comes in because he claims to have purchased the land from a company called Lake View Properties through which Ben Kiwanuka, ex-BoU governor Joseph Mubiru, Mary Kabenge and lawyer Lawrence Sebalu etc purport to have bought the land directly from a one Paul Kintu Kwemalamala to whom Mutesa’s sister Victoria Nalinya Mpologoma is claimed to have sold the land originally to raise money for her exiled brother who was terribly suffering in Britain. The Wassajjas dispute this because the Powers of Attorney Nalinya is claimed to have used to derive the authority to sell Mutesa’s personal land was defective and fraudulently innovated by the Kiwanukas using signatures the government handwriting experts have since established to be forged. The matter is extremely complicated because each party accuses the other of fraud. The High Court has barely made any progress despite the fact that it was first reported to them by the Wassajjas (impeaching Kasasa’s title) in 2003. It’s now 15 years yet even Maurice Kagimu (Kiwanuka’s son) has his own claim calling Kasasa a fraudster against whom he says he will soon be filing a suit in the High Court.
AG RUKUTANA CITED
Yet there are more twists to the same including the Deputy AG Mwesigwa Rukutana being accused of curiously writing letters clearing the payment of Shs2.4bn and another Shs8bn to Dr. Kasasa for the government to acquire the land (12 acres) which the Commission says was a bad deal because legally Kasasa couldn’t sell what he doesn’t have in light of the caveats the Wassajjas had in place at the time the sale is said to have taken place. In fact before driving to Mutungo for Tuesday afternoon engagements, Bamugemereire had first interfaced with Rukutana who begged to be allowed up to Wednesday 20th Feb to prepare his responses well.
On arrival at Mutungo moments before midday, the team started with a public meeting at a place called Kukiduka (at the shops) where hundreds of enthusiastic residents had been waiting. They carried placards mostly denouncing Kasasa while calling on the President (they called him Ssabalwanyi) to come to their rescue. After the anthems, speeches began with Nakawa Mayor Ronald Balimwezo speaking first. Himself one of the residents on the contested land (covering 8 out of the 13 villages making populous Mutungo parish/home to 40,000 voters as of 2016), Balimwezo accused Kasasa of being shady. He narrated how money was offered to him to recognize Kasasa at the expense of Kabaka but he declined. He said in the end the matter went to Court besides Kasasa prompting State House to write letters threatening him and other residents. Balimwezo dramatically carried heaps of documents denouncing Kasasa. In the audience were many very elderly men and women who carried documents showing they have always paid their busulu since the 1950s. They disputed Kasasa’ claim that only 9 families were on the land at the time he acquired it and that much of it was empty land. Some told Bamugemereire that Kasasa became more pronounced after 1986 and that previously they knew him as fellow Kibanja holder. They accused him of acquiescing to the military brutalizing them off their land, a charge Kasasa previously denied. Besides RCC Anderson Burora who defended State House saying the letters Balimwezo referred to were the work of impostors who have nothing to do with the Presidency, the other heavyweights present included KMP boss Moses Kafeero, Jinja Road DPC, KMP East RPC Sabila Musani and SCP John Nuwagira who deputizes Asuman Mugenyi as Director Operations. Mugenyi too is a Mutungo resident and his house, sitting on land Kasasa says is his, was the first to be inspected after the rally. This is located in Mutungo Zone II whose chairman Adam Kibuuka guided the visitors on much of the tour. In attendance were many area councilors including City Hall’s Mugisha Okwera and Alice Amony. Area MP Mike Kabaziguruka too attended and urged the Commission to expedite the resolution of the Mutungo dispute so that the old men and women confirm their ownership and status on the land before leaving their children behind with an uncertain future. The much-accused Kasasa was in the house but was kept under tight security after residents threatened to harm him protesting alleged mistreatment by his supporters. Bamugemereire said she was happy the visit had deepened her understanding of the problem and she was now in position to ask Rukutana better questions when he finally returns to the Commission on 20th Feb. After Mugenyi’s home, the next stop was the NWSC tanks on top of the hill.
SECURITY MEN CLASH
And by that time, more than 100 people were moving with the Judge including many excited residents who had jumped on the police patrol cars, the LC officials, the councilors, the Commissioners and Bamugemereire’s bodyguards and support staff. Towards 2:30pm, the team pulled up outside the former Bwengye house that now serves as ESO facility. It’s a highly guarded place to which access is totally restricted no matter who you are. The local leaders’ failure to reach out making prior arrangements only made things more complicated. On seeing the crowd showing up, the corporal heading the other military guards swung into action. He asked his men to take positions determined to deny Bamugemereire access and her entire entourage. Seemingly in total disbelief, the senior KMP police officers joined her guards to demand that access be granted but the army men on the site wouldn’t have any of that. Physical confrontation ensued and some prepared to chock their guns. After looking on helplessly for several minutes as her body guards haggled with the army men, Bamugemereire prudently signaled her men to pull back which they did. As they exited, the army men vigorously followed them with their head shouting in Kiswahili on top of his voice. Bamugemereire asked for his identity and promised to meet him gain through the CDF Gen David Muhoozi who by the way is among the curiously silent big men and women living on the disputed land. Others are Robert Kabushenga, Allen Kagina, Francis Bwengye, NSSF boss Richard Byarugaba and others. Even Andrew Mwenda has interest in land there. Area leaders, led by Balimwezo, cursed the military for the crude manner in which they acted saying it was abominable to use such vicious force to deny a whole judge access to Bwengye’s former house in Mutungo Zone 6. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.