KAMPALA, Uganda: They woke up to hastily execute an impending proposal to have the Corporation houses sold off to public. But they chose to curve all the PPDA guidelines and regulations. They sold the houses to themselves and resold them at double or triple prices… Welcome to the Investigator new series code-named ‘Thieving Hands Under Government Sight’ (THUGS) Records…
It is a spine-chilling tale of how National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) officials under the former Managing Director (MD), Dr. William T. Muhairwe’s stewardship, committed the felonies with impunity. It is a story partly enveloped in a final report by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) but whose findings and recommendations were swiftly swept under the carpet.
It all started way in 2005 when the Corporation opted to get rid of their 41 ‘noncore’ houses scattered around Kampala and upcountry, to the public. They however, against the Solicitor General’s counsel chose to sell the houses to themselves, with the sitting tenants ‘given the priority.’ Indeed, all the sitting tenants got the houses, but just on paper. They were forced to sign transfer forms and sale agreements instead of paying the money for their properties.
Our deep scrutiny of the available documents unravel that Dr. Muhairwe and his successor, Dr. Eng. Silver Mugisha were the biggest beneficiaries. Proscovia Aketch Lubowa, the Chief Internal Auditor was allocated the house on Plot 3, Lugogo by-pass at Shs401, 000,000. She happily signed the award papers and moved to look for the money to pay but alas! They wanted it.
“Dr. Muhairwe informed me that the house was meant for the minister. He advised me to get a mortgage from Dfcu and pay for the house on arrangement that the same would be refunded to me,” Aketch told the investigators. Muhairwe introduced to her a one Marianne M. Naava to whom she lost the property by signing powers of attorney for her.
The Corporation Secretary, David Kakuba had deceitfully informed the manager legal services Edith Kateebe that Aketch was unable to pay for the house but had a willing buyer. He directed her to help draft the Powers of Attorney for her, in order to evade the condition of sale to public officers.
“Before signing the powers of attorney, I approached Ms. Aketch and advised her to instead secure a loan and pay for the house herself. She confided that she honestly wanted the house but the MD had told her that the Minister, Hon. Maria Lubega Mutagamba (RIP) wanted it,” Kateebe retorted. Aketch also confided in her husband Joseph Lubowa but it was just that – sharing the grief.
Shortly after, on November 25th 2008 with Dr. Muhairwe’s help, Marianne M. Naava got the property from Aketch at Shs401, 000,000. She immediately sold it to a one Lawrence Lugwana – Kaggwa at Shs700, 000,000. “I sold it to Mr. Lugwana, a family friend who paid Shs396, 990,000 to NWSC and gave me the balance,” she confessed.
For being cooperative, Aketch was given Shs30M. “I was given Shs4,210,000 for the initial deposit I had incurred, Shs10M from Dr. Muhairwe saying it was a ‘thank you’ token from the Minister and Shs20 from Kakuba, also allegedly from the minister as a token of thanks,” she sadly recalled. Contacted by Investigators, the fallen Hon. Mutagamba, also Naava’s mother had said its Muhairwe who swayed her.
Enters Dr. Eng. Silver Mugisha
Then Chief Manager Institutional Development and External Services, the current MD seem the second biggest beneficiaries after Muhairwe. He was allocated plot 2 at Baskerville Avenue in Kololo at Shs520M. He said he got a Shs350M loan from Dfcu and Shs170M from Bob Kasango, to secure the property. He never lived in the house or made any renovations on it. However, shortly after, he sold the same to a one Ahmed Zziwa at USD800, 000 (Shs1, 917,600,000 at the time).
The buyer, Zziwa was identified by Muhairwe’s wife, Mrs. Vicky Tibayungwa Muhairwe. Mugisha claimed that he was later to use the money to complete his construction projects in Kyambogo. Through his Account number 0240082429001 of Stanbic Bank, Forest Mall Branch, he wired USD140, 000, USD460, 000 and USD169, 900 to Muhairwe’s family company, Eclipse Properties Limited’s Account number 0240063638001 of the same bank and branch. Most of this money was traced as wired into different Construction Stores’ accounts in China.
The Mbarara houses’ story is not different. But, it was easy for Dr. Muhairwe. He simply called the then Area Manager David Opoka and informed him of his interest in the houses. The houses number 25, 26 and 27 on plot 37 along Kabazaire road, were occupied by staff members Athanasius Maraka, Robert Okello and Joe Kamanyi respectively.
“I informed the trio of the MD’s interest. He wanted them to buy the houses in their names but on his behalf. He promised them Shs10M each,” Opoka revealed. They too, had interest in the houses but these were orders from above. “We had submitted successful bids for the houses and were issued letters of acceptance,” said Maraka of house 25.
He was issued a receipt of Shs54, 500,000 as full payment for the house yet he hadn’t paid a coin. He was directed to present it to a city lawyer, Oine Ronald of Tumusiime and Kabega Co. Advocates. “When there, I met my neighbor (house 26) Okello who had a receipt of Shs54, 700,000 with similar instructions as mine.” Oine gave them transfer forms and sale agreements which they signed.
Later, Dr. Muhairwe introduced a one Remie Rwankote as Maraka’s new landlord. He was now to sleep in the house at a cost of Shs355, 000 per month. He has since been transferred and replaced by Emma Mujuni who, continued with the tenancy agreement with Rwankote. In his book, Making Enterprises Work on page 398, Muhairwe names Rwankote among his relatives.
Both Okello and Kamanyi (house 27)’s stories are identical twins with that of Maraka. Okello got a new landlady called Kirabo and Kamanyi only signed transfer forms but blank of the beneficially. However, lawyers and cashiers who transacted the transfers and payments confirmed it was Dr. Muhairwe who issued instructions and the money.
“Ms. Irene Birungi, the MD’s personal assistant came to our offices with money to pay for both Okello and Maraka before we issued the receipts,” Juliet Nakate, a cashier at the Luzira-premised NWSC confessed. More houses are in Luzira, Lugogo by-pass, Kololo, Masaka, Mbarara, Jinja, Makerere and Martin Road… Watch the space…