MASAKA- UGANDA …A storm of controversy is brewing between Masaka district authority and Bank of Uganda regarding the laters’ intended construction of currency center in the land belonging to Uganda Golf Union.
The Investigator has learnt that this is just one of the highly schemed land grabbing gimmicks on display that is threatening scores of Uganda Golf Union land in leading municipalities across the country. ‘Sharp and shoddy’ district officials in especially municipalities have been named in shoddy land sales to private developers in these lucratively located plots of land, majority within the municipalities.
But in a new twist of events, much as Bank of Uganda that we have established are claiming they diligently acquired a 30 year lease of the Masaka land from Masaka district authorities, the district chairperson Hajji Jude Mbabali has distanced himself and the entire district executive committee from involvement. In a statement that we have obtained Mbabali noted as thus: “I together with Executive Committee of Masaka District wish to bring to public fora the following facts that I prove beyond reasonable doubt that the land is no longer available to the bank and for construction of a Currency Centre.”
“It is a waste of taxpayers’ money”. He said that on the 26th December 2016 while going to his office he was surprised to see a team of workmen from CRJE (EAST AFRICA) Ltd Construction Company fencing off with iron sheets part of a green belt known as Masaka Golf Club off for construction of a Currency Centre of the Bank of Uganda worth Ugx 50 Billion.
Mbabali said that during his tenure as LC 5 Chairman Masaka he has come to learn from documents available in his office including the Masaka Municipality Physical Plan that the said Green Belt is an open space reserved for Golf Course to date and that the land title for the same has never been cancelled or user of the land changed.
“On the 27th day of December 2016 I received from Uganda Golf Union a letter protesting the construction of a Currency Centre on the said land that is reserved for Golf. The letter signed by the Uganda Golf Union secretary Bernard Mbayo (that we obtained) sought to warn the district about the pending encroachment of their land by BOU. Mbayo also noted in the letter that they had received funding from Scotland and were ready to commence development of their land.
The Investigator has also obtained letters of warning written by the then Minister for Local Government Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere (way back) warning the local governments against selling of government golf course land to private developers.
But in the title deeds that the Investigator has obtained, Bank of Uganda was granted a 30 years lease of the 0.805 hectare of land formerly leased to Laston Hotel Masaka. According to the lease Bank of Uganda will occupy the land for 30 years starting from 1st June 2000.
But the district chairperson insists that after he learnt of the ploy to grab the green golf course belt he requested the responsible officers in the district to get for him documents relating how Bank of Uganda acquired the said plot on a Golf course Green belt which should include the Certificate of Title and the Lease Agreement which they did.
What has come to the fore as per the said Certificate of Title and the Lease Agreement is that a one Mukalazi Asaph who was then councilor at the Municipality and the chairman of the area land committee illegally obtained plot No. 11-17 Birch Avenue Masaka Municipality as a lease from Masaka District land board on the said Golf Course in 2001 and registered it in the name of his Laston Hotel. Then later in 2006, the plot No. 15-17 Birch Avenue Masaka Municipality was parceled off the said plot No. 11-17 Birch Avenue and a land title obtained by Laston Hotel. This meant that a Certificate of Title had been created on golf course land that had already a Certificate Title which is on Katwe road but in the new lease hold Certificate of Title disguised as Birch Avenue to hide the fraud but on ground it is the same piece of land.
In his shrewd way, Mukalazi, then stealthy sold the newly curved out plot to Bank of Uganda in 2007.
The certificate transfers indicate that the previous owners were Laston Hotel. According to Mbabali, the whole shoddy transaction is null and void.
As per the lease conditions, Mukalazi was supposed to have constructed a UGX 1 billion property in the said plot before 31st day of 2010, which he didn’t.
Accordingly the lease could not be sold or transferred if the said building had not been constructed yet to date in breach of the lease agreement there is no such a building on the land.
Also clearly on record, as per the lease agreements, only a hotel was supposed to be constructed in the said plot of land and not a Bank of Uganda Currency center.
The district chairperson, who is a renowned lawyer points out that it was illegal for Bank of Uganda to procure and acquire such a lease for construction of a Currency Centre that was clearly at the time a designated open space for Golf and this land user has never been altered by the National Physical Planning Board as per the records seen there by the 31st day of November 2016.
“Buying a lease that strictly states that the land use is Hotel for purposes of constructing a Currency Centre which is a different land user is fraud,” said Mbabali.
Accordingly the district executive committee has had a crisis managemet meeting and resolved that the Bank of Uganda UGX 50b project as well as fencing be halted forthwith until the issues are sorted out.
But The Investigator has established that after receiving the order to halt project works, after three days, following fresh orders from the Deputy Govenor Bank of Uganda, Loius Kasekende, construction resumed again sending cold chills on the spine of the district officials.
It is also rife that there was no clear follow of procedure regarding the laid down principles of competitive bidding set out under the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, 2003.