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Post by sol_drethedon on Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:11 am

Why is Mzee depleting the state? Tusaba thine gav't etuyambeth!!!!!

A steel company is about to complete what looks like a warehouse or showroom at what used to be Uganda Railways Corporation staff quarters in Nsambya. This prime land, with a very good view of Kampala, is located just about a kilometre from the city centre.

One day, Mr Museveni sat in State House, sub-divided this land and gave it away to various interests. The change of land-use and its availability were never announced. Therefore, no public tendering process was followed.

To facilitate its acquisition, the visionary first sold off Uganda Railways Corporation to a South African public enterprise under the much-publicised privatisation programme. The country was preached to, that government should not and cannot do business.

It should concentrate on its core functions, mainly provision of social services. Interestingly, Uganda Railways was sold to a South Africa government business arm. Part of the deal for the Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the new company formed to run railway transport in Uganda and Kenya, was to revive the passenger train.

But as many of you know, the only time RVR has operated a passenger train was during a Uganda Cranes match at Namboole. That circus is a story for another day. Today’s column is about depletion of the state.

What was privatised in the railway line? The corporation possessed huge chunks of land and buildings in Kampala and elsewhere. A law firm belonging to one of the State House in-laws has been involved in identifying Uganda Railways’ land. In this transaction, the country has lost both the railway transport business and assets.

From Uganda Railways staff quarters, walk straight to Shimoni PTC and Demonstration School. The story of this institution is well known to you. You know the spirited fight former Investment Minister Ssemakula Kiwanuka put up to save this land. And his cries that the mafias were about to snatch it. One day the bubble will burst and the world will know who these mafia are.

From Shimoni, walk to Mulago roundabout for yet another story. Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi one time stayed in these flats, now fenced off by Sudhir Ruparelia. I mean the former Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) headquarters. I don’t know how Sudhir gets to know that a particular piece of land belonging to the state is now available for the taking.

He built some structures for CMI at Mbuya in exchange for this prime land in the city centre. From here, make a turn and go to Nakasero near the State Lodge. What used to be Uganda Television (UTV) headquarters is now a hotel project construction site, the only one the head of state has visited at least twice already.

The land below State House Nakasero was also quietly acquired and it is now an estate. I don’t know how the presidency that refused Okello to operate his Okello House near it, this time allowed private developers to build estates.

And the story of the Nakawa-Naguru estate is not new to you dear readers. As usual, we were told the land had been given to a British investor to construct a satellite city there. Like other pieces of land, this one was also given out by the visionary, for free.

And I guess you are aware of what happened to the Uganda Hotels business. All the major hotels in Kampala belonged to the state – Sheraton, Nile (Serena), Grand Imperial, and Equatoria, among others. Uganda Hotels operated hotels even outside Kampala; these were shared by regime agents under, again, the privatisation programme.

Maj Gen Otema Awany took Acholi Inn, Mukula took Soroti hotel, Sam Engola took Lira hotel, among others. The above serves to explain that the public almost owned half of Kampala at the time Mr Museveni grabbed power. Dr Milton Obote left all these properties intact. Even Idd Amin didn’t touch them.

These past leaders left behind a very rich state of Uganda. So many good things have happened in and to Uganda in the last 28 years, including what I personally consider looting. It is as if these fellows have conspired to impoverish the state so they leave nothing when their time of departure finally arrives.

When they stormed Kampala in 1986, they occupied government buildings in Kololo and Nakasero. Under a dubious housing ownership scheme, they sold these buildings to themselves under the guise of sitting tenants. And majority have since sold these houses and relocated to other places.

They then took advantage of the privatisation programme to grab businesses and property. And the final phase is now land. In fact, that is what bothers me each time I see the visionary being conducted around Kampala. And you saw him last week. In truth, I don’t know what will go next. His insults against Lukwago and Besigye didn’t bother me at all. I think it was a cover-up. Soon you will hear that a playground or a school has been given to an investor.

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