By John V Sserwaniko
Dr. Mohammed Buwule Kasasa has proudly told the Land Commission of Inquiry, probing allegations that he connived with others like Ben Kiwanuka and lawyer Lawrence Sebalu (both deceased) to grab Sir Edward Mutesa’s 640 acres comprising of Mutungo hill, that he is too rich to do such a thing. The 89 year old British-trained medic says that whereas Shs1m which he paid for the land looks to have been a lot of money as of 1978 (when he purports to have bought the land) it was peanuts to him because of the very successful pharmacy business and lucrative medical practice he engaged in through the 1970s. “I see you are alarmed that I could easily afford Shs1m to buy the land from Lake View Properties but if I told you the other things I bought those days, you wouldn’t be surprised I could buy Mutungo so easily. Shs1m was nothing to me even when for sure even Shs100,000 was a lot of money for majority people in Kampala at that time,” Dr. Kasasa said. He was responding to Commissioner Mary Oduka Ochan who painted him an untruthful witness and asked where he got the money (Shs1m) with which he bought the 640 acres from Ben Kiwanuka’s Lave View Properties which Kabaka’s family (led by Prince Wassajja) say was a sham company fictitiously formed just rip off their father Mutesa’s land in Mutungo. The Wassajjas say Dr. Kasasa was part of this fraud and that’s why he was being grilled by the Commission to which the Wassajjas complained. During question time preceded by lead Counsel Ebert Byenkya’s tough questioning, Commissioner Ochan told Kasasa that he was in an awkward situation because he lacked sufficient paper work to corroborate his claim that he properly acquired the land. She wondered how Kasasa would get the land from Barclays Bank to which Lake View had mortgaged it without any documentation in place. Commissioners wondered why the involvement of so many lawyers (Nsubuga Nsambu for Kasasa and other attorneys for Lake View and the Bank) didn’t result into a lot of paperwork relating to such a very large transaction. Actually the situation is so vulnerable that Dr. Kasasa couldn’t produce even basic documents such as the sale agreement for the land. All he has is the title whose authenticity the Wassajjas are disputing yet Kasasa maintains it’s all he has. The payment of the Shs1m wasn’t witnessed by anyone and yet the people and lawyers Kasasa says were involved in the transaction are all dead.
This seemingly anomalous situation is what Ochan based on to conclude its possible Kasasa never even paid the Shs1m and could just have got the land for free. It’s the same claim the Wassajjas are making because Mutesa’s sister Nalinya Mpologoma, from whom Kasasa’s predecessors in title (e.g. Kintu Kwemalamala and Lake View Properties Ltd) claim to have bought the land, had no power to sell her exiled brother’s land. The only valid Power of Attorney (POA) Mutesa executed was to enable Mpologoma to preserve the integrity of the estate and to complete lease processes Mutesa had previously commenced in favor of some three Bazungu expatriates and his good friend Afande Shaban Opolot. In the Wednesday afternoon session, Ochan and other Commissioners seemed to agree with the Wassajja narrative insisting there were lots of contradictions in Kasasa’s submission that lasted a whole day.
DR KASASA BRAGS
Kasasa explained why he didn’t have to be dubious to acquire the Mutungo land. Explaining he acquired land in many other Kampala neighborhoods, Kasasa said his First African Pharmacy located opposite Bank of Uganda was very profitable because he was the sole medicines suppliers to Rubaga and Kawolo hospital at that time. His pharmacy, he said, was the only large African business in that part of Kampala Road and the rest where foreign-owned businesses. Ochan rejected the claim of moral uprightness saying Kasasa’s earlier admission to bribing government officials to recover his billions for the 12 acres in Mutungo the army took up for ESO work was proof he wasn’t beyond reproach. Kasasa furiously rebutted this charge saying “I don’t condone bribery; in fact I condemn it.” The Commissioner insisted his day long submission had created more suspicion than clarity. Ochan’s intensive questioning prompted other Commissioners to harden on Kasasa who explained Mutungo isn’t the only property he acquired at that time. He said he was on property-buying spree because he was business-minded and appreciated real estate which is why he simultaneously bought land in Gayaza, Najjanankumbi, Mengo, Kawempe, Buziga and even Ntinda. He repeatedly said: “Money was never my problem. I had the money to buy directly from the owners and we didn’t have such problems [of fraudulent brokers]. And what always mattered was the rightful owner giving you the title. Like in this Mutungo case I signed many documents and I can’t remember which of them was a sales agreement or what because I had my lawyers and this over 40 years later. The moment my lawyer said it’s okay, I just paid,” Kasasa said. This prompted Ebert Byenkya to interject saying “But Mr. Kasasa yes you say you invested a lot in lawyers but we don’t see the paper work resulting from the basic things that lawyers do for their clients.”
THE 24 PRIME PROPERTIES
Kasasa braggingly said that as of 1979 when the anti-Amin war climaxed (resulting into his $5m Pharmacy being looted), he had not less than 24 prime properties in Kampala. “And by the way my Lord [Justice Catherine Bamugemereire] for your own information, my Pharmacy was worth $5m which was no doubt a lot of money at that time but it was looted and that was the end. But not many people had that kind of money in Uganda at that time. This is why it shouldn’t surprise that I could buy Mutungo land so easily,” said Dr. Kasasa who sometimes banged tables to emphasize his point and show irritation at some of the questions he was being asked. At some point he protested “why should I be asked such questions in the first place?” These nagging questions mostly related to the anomalous way Lake View (his predecessor in Mutungo title) conducted business. Kasasa explained that his private medicine practice was so lucrative in the 1970s, he even declined generous job offers from government and Kilembe Mines in 1966 when he finally relocated to Kasese fearing to be victimized or killed under Obote’s State of Emergency “that targeted prominent Baganda who like myself had been working in Kabaka’s government.” Urged on by Justice Bamugemereire who said this was important for the Commission to understand his profile, Kasasa said besides his own earnings, he depended on his 10 children who were gainfully employed in UK, US and Canada. He said because of his good name, integrity and moral uprightness, the Canadian government for long considered him the most trusted Ugandan professional. Consequently, he was contracted to be the only doctor who examined and certified all visa application cases whereby without his medical clearance, one couldn’t get visa to Canada. This was one area where he made a lot of money. “My practice was called MB Kasasa and I was really well off because I had a British Secretary and to see me she had to first clear you. My Lord by the way I even had what one could call a mobile phone at that time because I had a phone in the car and my Secretary would ring to consult whether I will be seeing so and so,” Kasasa flamboyantly said with some unique accent. He explained the other way he made cash was off the lucrative deal he had with the East African Civil Aviation entity whereby all pilots and aviation operators had to be examined and certified by him for purposes of their medical fitness report. While in Kasese (where he chilled for 8 years and rejected job offers from Kilembe Mines), Dr. Kasasa lucratively operated a private clinic which was contracted to serve as police surgeon and he says this endorsement brought him lots of business. He started treating wealthy clients from the entire Rwenzori sub region and from nearby DR Congo. “For a long time I was contracted to do all the postmortem reports for the police in that area and it was another very profitable practice I pursued during my time in Kasese,” Kasasa said explaining he was there for a while because he was fearful returning to Kampala was still unsafe given the prominent service he had rendered at Mengo prior to the 1966 crisis. He said one time he was tasked to do mass vaccination against small pox, an exercise that saw him camp in Twekobe where he vaccinated all Mutesa’s children including now Kabaka Mutebi who he said was a personal friend for long.
Bamugemereire insisted he must think about reconciling with Buganda kingdom and the Kabaka whom he once cherished. “This clearly shows you should and can work together again with Buganda kingdom because it seems you have wronged each other and been fighting for too long,” she said. Kasasa said he was open to reconciling adding that he will continue making those efforts through the Katikkiro Peter Mayiga. In the 1970s, Kasasa revealed, he also made money using his private clinic that was located on NIC Building which he bought from Dr. Malley (a Muzungu) who was treating all staff of western embassies including the UK and US. To illustrate the point that all his children are adults and have been materially well off since the 1970s, Kasasa referred to his nice-looking daughter Sophia Nambalirwa who was in the audience. “Stand up and we see you,” said Justice Bamugemereire who took a lot of notice as Kasasa shared his hilarious life story. “Yah she is just one of them and she lives in the West. Most of them are doctors with very lucrative private practice and you can also ask Air France…” Kasasa said before referring to Dr. Samson Kisekka and Dr. Martin Aliker. He said whereas Kisekka was a senior colleague in Mengo hospital (where the two replaced expatriate medics at independence), Aliker was equally in very successful private practice through the 1970s. “He was a leading dentist and I always referred related cases to his clinic and he did the same referring general medicine cases to my clinic.” Kasasa said having seen the potential to make money in private practice through the 1970s, “I worked hard to ensure great success for my pharmacy business and private medical practice and this paid off because I was already international and had children doing well everywhere.” For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.