Amongi said she wrote to ULC, indicating that Harris International be allocated 15 acres and the rest remain for Makerere. It, however, remains unclear why, in the subsequent letters, the land allocation to Riham increased to 25 acres and, later, to 75 acres.
The former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Betty Amongi, and the former Uganda Land Commission (ULC) secretary, Robert Nyombi, have been cited in the controversial giveaway of prime land belonging to Makerere University at Katalemwa estates.
According to documents Sunday Vision has seen, this land was supposed to be used by the university for the construction of a teaching hospital. The land in question was given away to more than 14 individuals and firms, despite protests from the First Lady and minister of education, Janet Museveni.
Mrs. Museveni protested after Amongi, who is now Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) minister, notified her that Makerere had raised the issue of there grabbed land. Makerere had secured funds to construct a modern teaching hospital there.
Sunday Vision has learnt that Makerere possesses the original title to the land, but that officials in the lands ministry created another title, which they used to subdivide the land to questionable companies and individuals.
The land at Katelemwa was being used by the university as residential quarters for it's senior staff members since 1920. Sunday Vision has also learnt that Makerere, through it's real estate investment company, Mak Holdings, intended to establish a teaching hospital.
It was supposed to be a 200- bed upper market modern university teaching hospital occupying approximately 30 acres. The facility was supposed to include out-patient and in-patient services, modern facilities for all major operations, staff houses and social amenities, like nursery school, recreational facilities and commercial services.
HOW IT STARTED
When asked about her allocation of the land to other parties, Amongi said she had been directed by President Yoweri Museveni to find land for Harris International. “The minister does not give the land. The minister receives directives and forwards such to the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) to act. I received a directive to find land for an investor within a few kilometres from the central business district of Kampala. I than discussed with ULC and they gave me a title of land in Katalemwa, in the names of ULC measuring over 20 acres," she says.
"They said they would allocate 15 acres to Riham and leave the balance for the construction of Makerere University hospital,” Amongi said. She added that she discussed the proposal with the President about how the investor would share the land with the hospital.
“He advised me on how to proceed and I authorised ULC, to discuss the modalities of sharing land between the university and Riham because both investments are vital for the economy,” Amongi explained.
FROM 25 TO 75
Amongi said she than wrote to ULC, indicating that Harris International be allocated 15 acres and the rest remain for Makerere. It, however, remains unclear why, in the subsequent letters between the minister and ULC, the land allocation to Riham increased to 25 acres and, later, to 75 acres.
In her letter to the Deputy Resident City Commissioner, Kawempe Division, dated April 30, 2018, Amongi said: “On November 6, 2017, His Excellency, the President, wrote to me, directing me to allocate 75 acres of land to M/S Harris International. We identified part of the land for allocation to the above company in fulfillment of the President’s directive.”
Amongi indicated in the same letter that Makerere had used the same land since 1920 and that they had petitioned the education minister to safeguard it for purposes of building a hospital. She than explained that both her and the education minister consulted the President in April 2018 and procured permission to proceed in allocating Makerere land to Harris International.
According to Amongi, Makerere would only remain with about five acres to construct a teaching hospital, because it can be built in a storeyed way, spreading vertically, rather than horizontally. Ironically, her letter was neither copied to Makerere nor the minister of education. When asked about the other new owners of the said land, Amongi said she did not know how others came in.
Sunday Vision is, however, in possession of letters indicating that, as early as 2017, ULC than executive secretary Nyombi, had already allocated the said land to mysterious individuals and companies. On November 3, 2017, Nyombi wrote to the Commissioner Surveys and Mapping, notifying him of the decision by ULC to allocate Makerere land to a number of private companies in a meeting of April 7-8 2016 under Minute 40/2016.
He directed the Surveys and Mapping department of the Ministry of Lands to authorise the survey of the land and produce certified title deeds. On November 30, 2017, the than University Secretary, Charles Barugahare, protested to the than ULC secretary.
“This land is the property of Makerere University, which is the registered proprietor of the said land. It, therefore, defeats the understanding of the real property laws and ownership when you, a responsible officer of the government, can go ahead and commit such illegality in broad daylight without the courtesy of even liaising with the University Council,” he wrote.
Barugahare demanded that ULB rescinds the request to survey the said land with immediate effect. However, ULC did not respond. On February 14, 2018, Barugahare again wrote to Nyombi, reminding him of the illegal survey on Makerere land and wondering why the previous letter was not responded to.
He again called Nyombi’s attention to the fact that there were people inspecting and surveying the university land and asked for an official position of ULC. He further warned the minister of lands and ULC against issuing out any form of ownership certificate for the estate.
APPEALS FOR HELP
On April 17, 2018, Prof. William Bazeyo, who was than acting vice-chancellor, wrote to state minister for higher education Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo, notifying him of the illegal tractor of Makerere land at Katelemwa.
“We intimated that Makerere University, through Makerere Holdings Company, intended to develop it's land. However, despite that, the lands minister has directed to survey off 24 acres of that land and tractor it to other persons. This is contrary to the use that Makerere University wants to put the land to, and it will adversely affect the projects of Makerere University,” the letter reads in part.
Bazeyo asked Muyingo to prevail upon Amongi to halt her intended action. On June 19, last year, Apollo Mabaati, a presidential assistant, wrote to KCCA, recommending Tech Solutions to open up the land boundaries on the same land in order to establish whether there is a claim on the land.
On June 27, last year, Jasper Kakooza, the former acting assistant commissioner surveys, and mapping, wrote to Tech Solutions, giving them the go-ahead to survey the land. Kakooza now works as the KCCA senior staff surveyor. In spite of all this, Nyombi wrote to the commissioner surveys and mapping on August 16, 2018, confirming a new list of individuals and companies that had been allocated land.
Each of these was given a five-year lease. When asked, Nyombi denied any wrongdoing. “Every Katelemwa land distribution we did was in accordance with the law. All minutes are available at the ULC,” he said. However, when Sunday Vision visited the ULC offices to access the minutes, the file was missing.
The attendant said it could not be traced.
MAKERERE FIGHTS BACK
On November 27, 2018, the Makerere University chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe petitioned Janet Museveni over the grabbing of university land. “Honourable minister, during the commissioning of the Rwendeire Report on December 2017, H.E the President emphasized the importance of protecting the university land and properties.
“The university, with the support from Uganda Police Force and Internal Security Organisation, subsequently set up a task force to update the inventory and status of the university land as well as suggest a way forward. The report of the task force is now ready for action matrix on the way forward has been proposed.”
Sunday Vision has noted that last year, Makerere officially reported cases of criminal trespass at Katalemwa and several other areas. The cases were registered as Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) at the Land Police Protection Unit (LPPU) GEF: 86/2019, Kawempe CRB285/2019, CID LPPU 111/2019, Kanyanya CRB 124/2019 and MUK CRB 37/2019.
On November 12, last year, Williams Waigo, wrote on behalf of the LPPU commandant to university secretary, Yusuf Kiranda, indicating that the directorate had taken over the inquiries of the respective Police files relating to cases of criminal trespass from Kawempe Police Station, Kanyanya Police Station, and Makerere University Police Station.
Waigo informed Makerere that the Police were ready to inspect the lands that had been encroached upon. When Sunday Vision visited the land in question, private individuals had taken over part of it and established a garage in the middle of the residential estate.
This story was done with support from the Democratic Governance Facility.