Useful hullabaloo in town currently is about an Italian woman called Enrica Pinetti. Enrica and the Ministry of Finance officials, Minister Matia Kasaija and PS, Dr Ramathan Ggoobi are at the receiving end of public fury for signing an agreement granting the Italian, exclusive rights to export Uganda’s coffee.
But the agreement itself appears to be a gimmick. While Pinetti signs as the contracting party, she as well signs the same agreement as a witness. Subsequently, the document appears to be self-defeating.
This would seem to suggest that Pinetti is merely a pawn in the chess game who is being used by some crafty fellas that have for a long time been scheming to grab the lucrative coffee export business.
Pinetti’s name first came up during the saga in respect of Uganda’s so-called specialized hospital. The government handed her free land at Lubowa along Entebbe Road to erect the hospital. Her promoters in government further gifted her with public funds amounting to over UGX400bn for building the hospital in two years.
Whereas she has nothing on the ground to account for the money earlier granted, the people using her to siphon public funds only recently sneaked into Parliament, a supplementary budget for the national assembly to appropriate another bunch of funds for her, this time to the tune above UGX300bn!
But thank Heavens, Shadow Finance minister, Muwanga Kivumbi competently pointed out such foolery to the Speaker, Anita Among. The good Lady swiftly chased the people from the government who were hell-bent on pulling off the broad-day light robbery.
Pinetti’s saga immediately calls for a mind of some Sri Lankan guy called Viluppillai Kananathan. Our leaders in government hyped this joker as a top investor out to make apparels out of cotton for the lucrative AGOA market.
Accordingly, Kananathan promoters in government gifted him with land formerly belonging to the defunct Coffee Marketing Board (CMB). The regime had shut down CMB and handed the coffee business to private people including its cronies and friends.
On top of free land, Kananathan was given some hefty sums of public money to buy and process cotton before turning it into apparels for the AGOA market. Kananathan was, moreover, gifted with hundreds of our girls to work in the apparels’ factory.
To this day, Kananathan has never exported apparels to the US market nor accounted for the funds he received freely from the national coffers. The man is walking freely in town without anyone in government bothering to bring him to account for the funds and public assets he received for the work he never carried out. Leave alone that, he was in 2013 bestowed the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Uganda, probably to secure him more immunity.
Not even anyone among his accomplices in the regime has ever been arraigned in court for abuse of funds belonging to the taxpayer! What we reaped from this disturbing affair as a country, is another eternal straw in the national coffers. This is the eternal Presidential Advisor on the defunct AGOA affairs, Madam Suzan Muhwezi, the wife of Gen. Museveni’s bush war General Jim Muhwezi Katugugu.
Barring a miracle of Mosaic proportions, we can foresee the Pinetti deal ending the way that of Kananathan ended. In any case, the woman has never started on building the hospital yet she promised to complete it in two years! But her promoters in government are itching to hand her more billions of funds out of the taxpayer’s kitty!
But that won’t be the first and last deal to go bad. The regime razed down the Naguru and Nakawa estate houses and handed the land to OPEC Prime to build a satellite city. The regime has since undone its folly by taking back the land from the so-called investors, but not before the investor had insisted on holding to the land through legal means which schemes the President smashed.
The government has since parcelled out the public land between known land players who, it is obvious, are its cronies and friends.
The same regime demolished Shimon Primary School and Shimon Teachers’ Demonstration School right in the city center. The country was told how the government had talked to a serious investor to put up fabulous investments on that land.
At one time, government stated how they had secured a Saudi wealthy Prince who was going to develop the place. The Prince would shame the powers-that-be when he stepped out and categorically stated that he was not about to acquire business interests in Uganda.
The prince`s `shadow` never took long to sprout out. It did, through the usual suspect, Sudhir Ruparelia. To calm the public tentions, government gave it to him, removed it from him and finally handed it back to him! The rest of the land was doled out to businesswoman Amina Hersi of Oasis Mall who has for years been struggling to complete construction of apartments she is erecting.
Namanve Forest was razed down in pursuit of investors. Many of them have since secured land in the Industrial Park, only to immediately look for buyers to sell the same off. President Museveni`s administration has been removing some of the land from investors who failed to use the property and giving it out to who God knows.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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