Mbarara North Division MP, Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari, has been given a week’s ultimatum by the Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise to provide evidence of purchase of Nsambya railway land.
Rukaari, who was appearing before the committee on Tuesday, 30 November 2021, shocked legislators when he said that he had forgotten the bank he used to pay for the purchase of three plots of land and that he also did not have receipts as proof of payment.
Rukaari acquired the three plots of the land that belonged to Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) in Port Bell and Mulago at a total of 357 million shillings in 2009.
As a means to re-capitalize URC, which was struggling at the time, Government decided to sale part of its land of 57 acres in Nsambya and Kibuli at 69.5 billion shillings, however, 10 years later this money has not been received by URC.
Uganda Railways transferred the land to Uganda Land Commission before it was sold out to investors.
Now, as the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise (COSASE) probes the whereabouts of the money, it has emerged that some beneficiaries have not paid the money.
When tasked by the committee chairperson, Joel Ssenyonyi, whether the legislator had receipts to defend his purchase of the land, Rukaari told the committee that he used a bank draft, which was not receipted.
Rukaari only presented the receipts for the payment of 10 percent for the properties but could not present evidence of payment for the rest of 357 million shillings paid for the purchase of the property.
“Honourable members, this was in 2007. I do not remember the bank. I don’t have the banker’s draft that I used to pay. When you submit a bid, you record in a book and sign. At most you can take a picture, but they do not give you proof of payment,” Rukaari said.
However, Hon Elijah Okupa (INDP, Kasilo County) said that it is irresponsible on anyone’s side to pay money and not get acknowledgment of payment.
“I am seeing connivance on both sides. How do you receive money and not receipt, but also how do you only register that you delivered the money. There are so many ways of proving if you paid the money, there could be a bank statement,” he said.
The committee chairperson, Joel Ssenyonyi, gave Rukaari a week to present evidence that he paid for the land. Ssenyonyi said the Committee’s main concern is that the money has not been paid to the entity that needed it to date.
”What happens if they disown you? If tomorrow they wake up and they say this man has never paid money, how do you protect yourself if you have paid money and someone says you actually did not because you don’t have any document,” Ssenyonyi asked.
Meanwhile, the committee also met with Janet Kobusingye, the owner of Mestil Hotel, and asked her to provide details on how she acquired the land.
Kobusingye told the MPs that Government took over six acres of her land in Naguru valued at 1.5 billion shillings, but when she went to court, the Government decided to compensate her with four acres of land in Nsambya.
Kobusingye said that she was not given the appropriate value of land she lost in Naguru.
“My wish was to put up a hotel but Kampala district land board decided to cancel my lease so I sued them and Government decided to give me land at Nsambya. To date, they have not compensated me the equivalent of my land in Naguru,” Kobusingye said.
The committee asked Kobusingye to come with all documents related to the land in question.