President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is one person who doesn’t want to take responsibility for any kind of a mistake. Locked up in a controversy, Museveni would quickly look for any guy to fault them for it. As it is typical of him, the president is now passing the buck in regards to the contentious coffee deal, or so, we have learned.
Museveni says he stopped talking to Enrica Pinnet in 2015. He never followed up, to know what happened thereafter. He didn’t even get to know how and when his own minister for Finance, Matia Kasaija and his Permanent Secretary, Dr Ramathan Ggoobi, signed the final agreement via which Pinnet was granted the coffee deal!And Museveni blames Pinnet as well. But why?
The president says Pinnet misled him into accepting to work with her. This is after the same president says, the woman introduced Arabs to him and said they had the kind of money required to process and export Uganda’s coffee. This is how Museveni purportedly ended up asking the ministry of Finance to engage them and help the coffee farmers to escape the yoke of middlemen.
Yet after saying all these, the president goes ahead and approves of the same coffee deal and Pinnet herself! The president says the deal requires a few amendments here and there and then it would be ready to go. The president made all these surprising revelations during an interface with the parliamentary committee which probed the coffee deal and later recommended its cancellation.
The meet-up took place at State House. The MPs on the committee were led by their chairman, Hon Mpaka Mwine. Museveni told Mwine that he had summoned him to clear the public perception to the effect that he has vested interests in the deal granted to Pinnet.
Museveni must be fully aware of the negative PR this saga generated. This is why he has deemed it critical to speak to the committee in order to `clear` his name.
Mwine and his peers even recommended that the ministers who participated in granting the deal be asked to account for their actions and omissions. Much as the report doesn’t expressly find Museveni culpable for the obvious reason that he is not subject to prosecution as a sitting president, the fact that his ministers are being pointed out for prosecution, clearly shows that he isn’t entirely blameless as head of the government which granted the deal.
For the record, the coffee deal was granted behind curtains to Museveni’s favorite Italian female investor, Enrica Pinnet. The deal had remained a top secret until that day when the Daily Monitor blew the lid off it. The leaking of the report left the public in much anguish. See, Museveni had before then, doled out to the same woman, a whopping UGX400Bn. The cash was picked from the national coffers. This money was released under the cover of funding the construction of what the president hyped as a specialized hospital.
On top of the financial gift, Pinnet was also handed another gift of a prime chunk of land. This land is located at Lubowa along Entebbe Highway. The country was convinced about how Pinnet was going to use the land to build the health facility. Years down the road, the woman has never delivered the hospital, save for the foundation which is also incomplete! No one knows to what use Pinnet put the colossal sums of money! None of her promoters, chief of who is the president himself, have bothered to ask the woman to account for the taxpayer’s funds.
Hope one can now pardon the hostile mood with which Ugandans received the news about the president having handed over the coffee deal to this woman. Not only was the deal granting the woman the monopoly to buy, process as well as export coffee, but the government was as well doling out to her many ridiculous incentives. Those incentives included free land on which to construct the coffee processing factory, a ten-year tax holiday and above all, the right to determine the prices at which to buy coffee from the Ugandan farmers.
- 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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