By Moses Walubiri
KOLOLO - The Government is renovating the residence of former President Milton Obote in Kololo, an upscale Kampala suburb. This might be a tacit indicator of fence-mending between the State and the Obote family.
The imposing house has since August been a beehive as a new roof, pebble dash on outer walls, new drainage system, tiles and columns are fixed.
The black gate to the residence, which is usually locked, was on Wednesday open as milling construction workers went about their business.
Only Dr. Henry Opiote, Obote’s former personal physician and family friend, is at the residence, while Miria Obote, according to government sources, is tentatively staying at Golf Course apartments as a guest of the state.
New Vision has not established how much the renovation will cost and how long it will take. Works and transport minister Abraham Byandala referred us to officials at his ministry.
“It is true the renovation is being done by my ministry but I don’t have the details off-cuff,” Byandala said.
The Lira Municipality MP and Obote’s son, Jimmy Akena, declined to talk about the renovation and where his mother is currently staying.
“The place is being renovated and she couldn’t stay there,” Akena said.
Miria Obote also declined to give more information about the renovation, saying: “We shall talk about it another day.”
Sources said when President Yoweri Museveni paid an impromptu visit to Mama Miria Obote mid this year, he was appalled by the residence’s sorry state.
“The President was shocked to find the house in such a dire condition. The roof was leaking and the soldiers who had occupied it for a long time had spoiled the walls by drilling holes to create demarcation for different families,” a family friend who sought anonymity told New Vision yesterday.
But the renovation has raised eyebrows within the UPC circles. Some have taken it as a move by the Government to compromise the Obote family.
Miria contested as the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) flag-bearer in the 2006 presidential polls before handing over the party leadership to Dr. Olara Otunnu in the run-up to the 2011 polls.
The Obote family has stridently demanded compensation from the Government for the time their house was occupied by the military during their time in exile.
However, family sources indicate that this compensation is yet to be effected.