KAMPALA: The COSASE task force led by Makindye East Member of Parliament, Ibrahim Kasozi has started its work after it was set up by Committee Chairman Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe South) to investigate properties of the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB).
The task force is probing how hundreds of properties including houses and land that were compensated by government after their owners decided not to return for repossession. Among the top government officials being investigated include Attorney General William Byaruhanga, who the MPs want to explain how already compensated properties landed in hands of individuals, Lands Minister Betty Amongi for allegedly trying to sale property along Lugogo by-pass; Maj Gen (Rtd) Kasirye Gwanga and Gender Ministry Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana for allegedly securing ownership of properties.
Some of the properties in prime areas of Kampala that are in the records of DAPCB and in whistleblower documents in the hands of MPs as having been compensated by the government but dubiously acquired or registered in the names of other people include; Plot 20 Parliament Avenue; Plot 3 Market Street; Plots 6, 8, 10 and 12 Namirembe Road; Plot 14 A George Street; and Plot 7 Bombo road.
Other prime placed properties government reportedly lost to unscrupulous individuals are; Plot 4A Kampala road; Plot 16 Mackenzi Road; Plot 68 Bukoto Street; Plot 11 Kololo; Plot 37 Rashid Kamis Road; Plot 66 William Street; Plots 68-70 Kira road,; and, Plot 9 Mbuya road.
Mr Bizibu, in the company of Dr Abdul Byakatondo the Chairman of the DAPCB Divestiture Committee and Irene Apio-Julu a Divestiture Committee member, told the MPs that they have not been able to access most of the mentioned properties due to the restrictions by the current occupants.
“At these properties, you are mentioning are fully compensated according to the records but we have no full control over them. When we visited most of these properties, we would find the gates closed,” Bizibu said.
When Kampala Central MP Mohammed Nsereko tasked MBizibu to provide information about the occupants of most of those properties, he instead pleaded with the MPs to visit those properties themselves.
But Kasozi ruled that; “ we are giving you Bizibu and your team three weeks to submit a status report on all the properties whose current occupants you do not know and submit it to this Committee.”
DAPCB officials also mentioned two former Ministers of Finance among the government officials whose negligence led to the mismanagement of the departed Asians properties. Those mentioned are Aston Kajara and Fred Omach who all served in the portfolio of State Minister for Privatisation and State Minister for Finance in charge of General duties respectively.
Meanwhile the executive secretary of DAPCB, George William Bizibu has pleaded to Parliament to provide him with security saying he fears for his life after revealing sensitive information to the task force set up to investigate dubious acquisition of departed properties.
Bizibu made the appeal while appearing before the parliamentary Committee on Commission, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE)’s select task force that is investigating circumstances under which departed Asians properties that were fully compensated for by government ended up in hands of individuals and companies.
“With the evidence we are giving to this committee, we have opened a Pandora box and I don’t move with even a knife. So, my security and that of these members I came with is very vital,” Bizibu said.
He stated that even the premises of DAPCB are not secured something that may expose the documents and other relevant data being asked by the MPs to possible raid by those who might be pinned in the investigations.
During the interface with the MPs, Bizibu who has been at the helm of the DAPCB for about two years said the board does not have information on the current ownership of several plots despite the records indicating that they were compensated by the government.