By John V Sserwaniko
Ex-Kabaka Minister Robert Sebunya strongly protested the use of derogatory language by Kabaka Mutebi’s younger brother Prince David Wassajja to describe former Chief Justice and Uganda’s First Prime Minister Ben Kiwanuka. This was on Tuesday during the Land Inquiry session held at Commission head offices in Wandegeya where Wassajja appeared to testify how a group of unscrupulous people (he called them mafias) led by Ben Kiwanuka forged documents and orchestrated fraudulent land transactions and transfers aimed at stealing 640 acres of Mutungo land belonging to his late father Sir Edward Mutesa. Wassajja said Joe Kiwanuka, Lawrence Sebalu, Ben Kiwanuka and later on Dr. Mohammed Buwule Kasasa capitalized on the excessive political pressure and difficult life his father endured in his last days on earth to commit serious fraud aided by corrupt officials in the land ministry to grab the late king’s estate. The land in question is particularized as Block 237 and covering much of Mutungo which is home to both the poor and wealthy elite dwellers living in large bungalows. The irony is none of them has a land title because of the 15 year dispute between Mutesa’s family and Dr. Mohammed Kasasa Buwule. Wassajja, who complained to the Land Inquiry to protest failure to make progress in court, accused Kasasa of deliberating filing many applications in order to detail the hearing of the main suit. He said his father became the registered proprietor as early as 1946 when he had just completed school at Buddo. He clarified this was part of Mutesa’s personal private estate different from the Buganda kingdom official estate managed by Buganda Land Board (BLB) against which Kasasa (against whom Wassajja presented lots of evidence alleging fraud) lodged a separate complaint regarding proprietorship of another prime land in Buziga.
DEMONIZING BEN KIWANUKA
Wassajja’s complaint is that Ben Kiwanuka used his law firm in the 1960s to come up with fictitious entities like a one Paul Andrew Kwemalamala and a controversial company called Lake View Properties Ltd which he used to hide himself and subsequently grab Mutesa’s Mutungo land. He referred to what lawyer Pius Kawere, who worked in same law firm, told their lawyers years ago. That Kawere told them Lake View was always a mysterious company whose affairs and all transactions relating to Mutungo land Ben Kiwanuka always personally handled. 51 year old Wassajja accused Ben Kiwanuka of personally forging a Power of Attorney (POA) purporting that Mutesa had assigned his sister Nalinya Victoria Mpologoma to sell his Mutungo land to different buyers to raise money for his survival in London exile “because he was in dire straits.” Wassajja denied this as mere rumor saying even when things were tough, Mutesa was too principled to just sell off his land like that. He said there was a genuine POA which Mutesa executed empowering Mpologoma to oversee the management of his private estate comprising of Mutungo land, the palaces in Nkoni, Bamunanika and others. “The genuine POA was very specific and never allowed her to sell. It was specifically to complete the leasing of some of the land to the Serwadda family, Richard Eric Hunt and Anthony Smith,” Wassajja said adding that Shaban Opolot is another beneficiary in whose favor Mutesa offered a lease off his 640 acres in Mutungo. He said even after that, more than 90% of the land remained Mutesa’s. He explained Kiwanuka used the genuine POA to work to forge Mutesa’s signature purporting to issue a 2nd POA which was general in nature permitting Mpologoma to do many other things. “I insist Mpologoma couldn’t do such because the genuine POA was very specific and restricted her not to sell any part of Sir Edward Mutesa’s estate. Secondly she was twice detained by Obote government and was only released by Amin after the coup. So there is no way she would have sold any land even under the 2nd POA which our handwriting experts [led by Principal government analyst Ntariba] confirmed to be fake,” explained Wassajja who testified and furnished the inquiry with hard facts for the whole day. He said Kiwanuka not only forged the POA, he also created Kwemalamala, a fictitious personality from whom Kiwanuka’s Lake View Properties Company later purported to have bought the land. He said the same Ben Kiwanuka championed the transfer of the land from Kwemalamala to Lake View Properties which later purported to mortgage it to Barclays Bank for a loan facility and it’s from the Bank, upon foreclosure, that Dr. Kasasa claims to have bought the land in 1978. Besides wondering how Kasasa got it registered in his name as private Mailo at a time mile tenure had been abolished by Amin’s land reform decree, Wassajja wondered how Lakeside (which was incorporated in 1968) could have existed to purchase and have the same Mutungo land titled in its name in 1946 long before it came into existence. The genuine POA was registered on 28th December 1967 just like Ben Kiwanuka’s fake POA. He said after prison release, Mpologoma produced a listing of Mutesa’s properties that were under her care as per the specific POA and Mutungo was listed number 5 on that list. “There is no way she would have included Mutungo well knowing she had already sold the same land earlier,” Wassajja said. Referring to periodical confidential reports the UK government kept receiving from its Commission in Kampala (aimed at establishing whether Mutesa had sold Mutungo or any of his private land in Kampala to use that as justification to omit his name from the beneficiaries list under the welfare scheme catering for the needy in London), Wassajja said there was more than enough evidence clearly showing a group of elite Ugandans led by Ben Kiwanuka clearly schemed to benefit from Mutesa’s absence to rip off his personal estate. He said these individuals were fully aware of the British pressure on Mutesa and that by Obote I government whose foreign minister Sam Odaka wrote letters listing three demands Mutesa must accept in writing for the Obote and UK government to relax on the restrictions on him. These included denouncing Kabakaship, accepting the 1967 constitution which had abolished kingdoms and made Obote the new President of Uganda whose legitimacy and authority Mutesa was being asked to acknowledge publicly. Wassajja says Mutesa rejected all these pressures which the two governments avenged by making it hard for him to freely do any transactions on his private estate in Uganda. He says this made him vulnerable and created an impression he would never return to Uganda to follow up personal property. He says the Kiwanukas were also emboldened by the fact that anything hurting Mutesa would please Obote. He says because of that they knew they would get away with fraud and impunity at the expense of Mutesa’s estate. He says to break Mutesa’s resolve, the British went as far as giving him just 7 pounds per week as his upkeep under the welfare scheme compared to his bodyguard’s 8 pounds. Wassajja says even the British regularly surveyed Mutesa personal property in Kampala with keenness to establish if any of it had been sold for him to have some money so that he could be deleted from the list of the welfare scheme beneficiaries. He says there is no way the British would fail to know if Mutesa had indeed sold any land to Kwemalamala and eventually Lake View Properties and got some money through his sister Mpologoma. He produced a British document showing until he died, Mutesa never sold anything. Wassajja took advantage of the platform Catherine Bamugemereire gave him to also react to claims that Ben Kiwanuka and Mpologoma sent money to Mutesa through his Kenyan friend Njonjo who was a prominent Kenyan official. He said whereas it’s true life was hard for Mutesa in exile, the situation has often been exaggerated to portray him as a man who was in “dire straits.” He also produced a document the British declassified having previously kept it at the Q Gardens archiving records center clearly showing Mutungo was part of the property Mutesa owned up to his death. Wassajja said Lake View Properties, which Ben Kiwanuka controlled more than any other officials involved, was wound up in 1978 and didn’t perform any other transaction apart from those relating to Mutungo land. To him this is proof Kiwanuka & Co took their time and planned all the fraud until the land was safely in the hands of Dr. Kasasa whom the Mutesa family (basically the three administrators Wassajja, his sisters Nalinya Dorothy Nassolo & Nalinya Sarah Kagere) have been fighting to remove from the land since 2003.
DELAYING THE CASE
Asked why the case has delayed for all these years, Wassajja explained the pro-Kasasa frustrations they have endured in different government offices including the judiciary, Solicitor General’s office, Attorney General’s chambers, the Uganda Land Commission and the Ministry of Lands. He showed that over the years officials in these government departments have “acted with impunity” enabling fraud to continuously be committed by people he said are determined to occasion endless misery on Mutesa’s family. At some point he made comparison showing that the Amin government in some ways treated Mutesa’s estate beneficiaries more humanely than public officials running contemporary Uganda. He enumerated things Amin personally ensured were done for the Mutesa family unlike today’s public officials whose connivance he said in 2010 resulted into government committing to pay Shs9.4bn for the Mutungo land well knowing Dr. Kasasa (the vendor) has no good title to pass on. While crying out how even Parliament let them down by ratifying the ULC proposal to pay Kasasa another Shs7bn for the same Mutungo land, Wassajja referred to Auditor General John Muwanga who raised a red flag about the fraudulent ULC payments to Kasasa asking the IGG to act and cause investigation of the officials who paid Shs9.4bn in return for air supplied by Dr. Kasasa in vain. He said it was shocking that despite the hard evidence of fraud and financial loss shared by Muwanga, the IGG hasn’t acted to this day to cause prosecution of Lands ministry and ULC officials. Wassajja said to prove that Kwemalamala was a fictitious character that never existed, they published a huge newspaper advert calling on his relatives or anybody that ever knew him but nobody stepped forward. He named former State House legal assistant Hussein Kashilingi as one of the people who were involved in pushing ULC to pay Kasasa the Shs2.4bn and another Shs7bn in interest on grounds GoU was compulsorily acquiring the Mutungo land to build ISO headquarters. He also read out numerous government correspondences contradicting the urgency Kashilingi claimed the GoU wanted the land acquired and Dr. Kasasa paid. He also pinned Deputy AG Mwesigwa Rukutana for writing letters misleading the finance ministry on the need to urgently pay Kasasa another Shs7bn. While thanking Bamugemereire for giving him audience to have his complaint heard and for blocking ULC and finance ministry from paying another Shs7bn to Kasasa, Wassajja bashed the current Solicitor General Francis Atooke for writing a curious legal opinion asking finance ministry to urgently pay Kasasa yet the ULC entered what he called the fraudulent sale agreement without any input from the SG office as required by law. He tendered GoU correspondences showing the SG was clearly sidelined by ULC in order to escape scrutiny as they paid Kasasa. He also showed that Kasasa was paid the money 2 years before any sale agreement was entered. It was entered retrospectively to legitimize the billions that had already been paid to him. He implored Bamugemereire to intervene real quickly because Kasasa’s misconduct and numerous time-wasting court applications are already hurting NWSC and UNRA from implementing key government projects.
Using question time by the Commissioners, Owek Robert Sebunya took issues with Wassajja and never disguised his contempt for the negative things the Prince had said about Ben Kiwanuka a diehard Catholic who ably led DP, a party to which Sebunya once proudly belonged. “Prince Wassajja do you really believe that Ben Kiwanuka who was the first Prime Minister of Uganda and Chief Justice can do such fraudulent things as you have enumerated? I doubt. I doubt that because he can’t do such things to Sir Edward Mutesa. He was a man of integrity and there is no way he could do such things,” Sebunya asserted angrily facing Wassajja as other Commissioners pensively looked on. Wassajja stood his ground saying many people had corroborated to them as children that Ben Kiwanuka never wished anything good to Mutesa II or any of his estate beneficiaries. “There are many people Sir Edward told to advise his sister and others to keep a distance from Ben Kiwanuka saying he didn’t wish us well as a family. And there are people who can corroborate this because they heard it from Mutesa themselves. One of them is Serubyale who is the husband of Nalinya Mpologoma. He is still alive, sober and very sane. It would be helpful for the Commission to interact with him,” Wassajja said prompting Bamugemereire to direct her staff to arrange for that “because we need such historical facts as well.” But Sebunya weighed in wondering why Wassajja (if he is indeed genuine as he claims) wasn’t taking advantage of Ben’s fellow Lake View director Joseph Kiwanuka since he too is still alive and lives in Muyenga. A former Mengo minister, Sebunya also complained as to why Wassajja is quick to believe Ben Kiwanuka wasn’t working closely with his auntie Mpologoma in disposing of Mutungo land in order to raise financial upkeep for Mutesa while in exile. He also tasked Wassajja to explain what the Mpologoma POA (the one he considers genuine) was meant for if it wasn’t to enable her raise cash for Mutesa’s exile comfort. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.