The petitioners want court to issue a permanent injunction, barring the proposed razing down of the national theatre and Nommo gallery.
Pupils of Blessed Damiano Primary School in Masindi district performing at the National Theatre
A group of civil society organisations have dragged the trustees of the Uganda National Theatre and the Government to court, seeking orders to block its (National Theatre) demolition.
Historic Resources Conservation Initiative (HRCI), National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU) and Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG) are behind the suit.
Through Rwakafuuzi and Company Advocates, the organisations say the actions of the respondents are contrary to the statutory use of the property.
They contend that the proposal by government to demolish the National Theatre and Nommo Gallery, so as to construct a modern twin tower to accommodate shops, offices and a five star hotel, is a breach of trust by the defendants.
Nommo Gallery, founded and established in 1964 by the 1959 Act of Parliament, is Uganda’s National Art Gallery and a component of the Uganda National Cultural Centre.
It features exhibitions of works of art by both Ugandan and foreign artist’s masterpieces which among others include paintings, batiks (tie-and-dye), ceramics, art prints, photographs and sculptors.
They contend that the Government proposal is contrary to the statutory use of the trust property under section 3 of the Uganda cultural activities centre Act.
According to the act, National theatre is supposed to be an accommodation for theatre and cultural activities to develop cultural, artistic, academic, philanthropic and educational pursuits.
The petitioners argue that the National Theatre was not put in place for economic purposes, but to be an accommodation for theatre and cultural activities and to develop cultural, artistic, academic, philanthropic and educational purposes.
They want court to issue a permanent injunction, barring the proposed razing down of the national theatre and Nommo gallery.
The petitioners contend that if the proposal is allowed to go to execution, the public will lose their home for visual arts.
When contacted on phone, the National Theatre spokesperson Robert Musitwa said they have no proposal to give away the national theatre to a private developer.
“What is going is the major renovation of the national theatre. Since 1969, there has been no major renovation of the theatre. We cannot spend sh3b renovating theatre and then demolish it,” Musitwa said.
He said there is no private developer that has been given the theatre to develop as alleged by the petitioners.
Meanwhile, the registrar of the Civil Division of the High Court has given the Government and the trustees 15 days to file their defense.
The case has been allocated to High Court Judge Henrietta Wolayo for hearing.