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Two Buganda royal families are locked in a battle for ownership of a 37-acre piece of land in Lubowa which was recently earmarked for a multi-billion hospital, writes JOSEPH KIMBOWA.
On June 1, President Museveni officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed $250m hospital complex in the upscale suburb. The project is led by Italian investor Enrica Panetta through her company called Finasi. It’s a joint venture with the government and is funded by Standard Chartered bank
Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister of Health, said that upon completion, the hospital complex will sit on 86 acres.
She added that the specialized hospital comes at an appropriate time when the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is on the increase, especially cancer.
“The challenge has been inadequate infrastructure, inadequate or late diagnosis and treatment equipment.”
President Museveni, meanwhile, noted that the hospital would cater for all the VIP cases instead of referring them abroad. The president added that the project would save Uganda $186m annually, which is spent on treating VIPs abroad. The complex will also have a medical training institute, hotel facilities, among other amenities. On top of that, the facility will use solar energy to cut costs on power.
President Museveni is shown how the proposed $250m hospital will look like. On his right is Enrica Panetta, the Italian investor behind the project
“Once fully operational, this facility will curb down on the massive loss of foreign exchange by citizens seeking specialized treatment abroad by offering brain surgery, cardiac surgery and thereby promoting Uganda as a medical tourism destination,” Aceng noted.
Behind the scenes, however, is a protracted battle for the land that has sucked in Diana Atwine, the ministry of Health permanent secretary.
The battle could delay the start of the project, which is projected to be completed within two years. One faction is led by US-based Prince Joseph Kalemera Kiggala and another by Prince Nakibinge Kimbugwe.
Last year, Nakibinge, issued a statement introducing himself and five other Buganda royals as the caretakers of the disputed land on Block 269. The others are Princes Fredrick James Jjunju, Joseph Kiyimba Jjuuko and John Ddamba Bbemba. The Princesses are: Mariam Namusisi Nasiwa and Victoria Luwedde.
But Prince Kiggala’s faction allege that only two of those listed on the document are genuine royal family members and the rest “are land agents who want to grab the contested land.”
Nakibinge, through its lawyers Alaka & Co Advocates, wants the project halted until the owner- ship is resolved. Documents obtained by The Observer indicate that on May 28, they warned Roko construction, the company hired to construct the hospital, to stop all operations at the site and also warned the company officials not to step at the venue for the ground-breaking ceremony.
Following this warning, Roko officials reportedly communicated to Dr Atwine saying, they would not go to the site unless the land ownership issue is solved.
Dr Atwine, in turn, approached the team led by Prince Kiggala, which gave the ministry the go-ahead with the inauguration, promising negotiations with government at a later date.
On May 29, Kiggala, through his lawyers, Alliance advocates, wrote to Roko asking it to ignore Kimbugwe and attend the inauguration ceremony but also warned the construction company not to do anything without their consent.
“This is therefore to call upon you not to deal with the said persons in the matter as they have no legitimate interest at all in the said land. We, however, also demand that you forthwith stop your activities on the said land which are being done without our client’s knowledge, consent or permission on receipt of this letter, failure whereof we shall be constrained to institute proceedings against you...,” said Kiggala’s lawyers.
When contacted, Dr Atwine was reluctant to comment.
“You have been writing about those issues for some time, what other comment you want from me,” she said before promising to call back but by Thursday, she had not.
Dr Atwine chose Kiggala’s faction because it had earlier presented to her 2008 court documents that granted Kiggala powers of administration of the estate as well as the will.
Kiggala maintains he is the only surviving administrator of this estate.The will, dated December 2, 1944, was made by Prince Yusufu Ssuuna, a son to former Buganda king Mwanga II. This 37-acre piece is part of the six square mile Mailo land left by Ssuuna.
On the ground-breaking cer- emony, president Museveni warned individuals claiming ownership of the land whose title is in government custody.
“We took 30 acres of this land to construct this hospital. There is no way anybody can success- fully claim this land,” President Museveni said.
For now, it remains unclear which of the two parties government will compensate for the project but delays in court could stall the joint venture.
The EU pledged 85 million euros (about Shs340,872,633,942) to Uganda Thursday, ahead of a summit to raise twenty times that amount to help it deal with nearly one million refugees from South Sudan.
Uganda is facing the world's fastest growing refugee crisis as South Sudanese pour over the border to escape more than three years of civil war in their country.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is visiting a refugee settlement Thursday, before joining other top officials, donors and regional leaders for the Refugee Solidarity Summit in Kampala on Friday.
The summit aims to raise $2 billion for the coming year, however organisers say $8 billion is needed to deal with the crisis for the coming four years.
The European pledge is to "help Uganda deal with this unprecedented situation and support the most vulnerable refugees," said aid commissioner Christos Stylianides, who visited the Imvepi settlement in the remote north of the country with UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi.
"Uganda's example of helping vulnerable people cope with displacement is an example for the whole region and the world. However no country can deal with such a high number of refugees on its own," said Stylianides.
'Treating the symptoms'
The UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Gutierres serving food to South Sudanese refugees at Imvepi settlement camp in Arua District on June 22, 2017. PHOTO BY FELIX WAROM OKELLO.
According to the UN refugee agency more than 947,000 South Sudanese refugees are sheltering in Uganda, bringing the total number of refugees in the east African nation to more than 1.2 million.
South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, was plunged into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.
An August 2015 peace deal was left in tatters when fighting broke out in Juba in July last year, spreading violence across the country.
It was this outbreak of fighting that led to the biggest exodus, with some 743,000 South Sudanese arriving in Uganda since July 2016, about 2,000 a day.
More than 270,000 are housed in Bidibidi settlement, which overtook Kenya's Dadaab earlier this year as the biggest refugee camp in the world.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been hailed for a progressive refugee policy in which refugees are allowed to work and access public services.
However the situation on the ground has been overwhelming for locals and aid workers, with not enough food and water to go around.
The UN estimates that another 500,000 South Sudanese will arrive in Uganda this year.
The summit will not include discussions on how to end the ongoing fighting, and there is no peace process in sight.
"We are treating the symptoms but the real root cause of this violence should be addressed. That is what is forcing people to run from their land," said Wadri Sam Nykua, the top government official in Arua, Uganda, welcoming the EU and UN officials to the refugee settlement.
A gloomy mood has engulfed Soroti District after the death of the former Soroti County MP Peter Omolo. Omolo has been a member of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party.
According to family members and FDC stalwarts in Teso, Omolo breathed his last on Thursday, a few minutes to midnight at Mulago Hospital where he had been admitted.
Mr Daniel Omara, his son, confirmed his death in a statement.
Ms Florence Ibbi, former Woman MP for Kaberamaido District told the press that they rushed Omolo to Mulago Hospital where he was diagnosed with acute pneumonia but died shortly after as doctors tried to find veins to enable a blood transfusion.
"FDC and Teso have lost an icon, a man who was a staunch opposition, an advocate for good governance," she said.
Ms Ibbi said that Omolo was a man who wished that all citizens exercised their freedom and enjoyed the public good without State interference.
Mr Julius Ekudo, the former Gweri Local Council III chairman who closely worked with the late since the Reform Agenda activism said the late was a courageous politician who sold the seeds of Reform Agenda and later FDC without fear.
"He volunteered to see that FDC is what it's in Teso and Soroti," he said.
The deceased, was a former legislator for both the 8th and 9th Parliament and also served in the Constituency Assembly that developed the 1995 constitution.
He was one of the most spoken legislators of the 8th Parliament.
His contribution was minimal in the ninth Parliament after falling sick barely a year after being re-elected.
He died at the age of 62.
Accused of being a mastermind of the deadly clashes in Apaa village between the Acholi in Amuru district and Madi from West Nile, the First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali, said yesterday that he is ready to go to prison if there’s evidence linking him to the killings.
At least six people were killed and 20 injured in the clashes that have heightened tensions between the two communities, which have fought over a piece of land in Apaa village along their common border since June 4.
The clashes have drawn all kinds of controversy in Parliament, which peaked on June 21, with a fierce verbal exchange between MPs from Acholi and Madi during the plenary sitting.
Before the exchange, the minister of State for Lands and Housing, Chris Baryomunsi, presented a statement about the latest clashes in Apaa parish. Gen Ali, whose name has been mentioned repeatedly among the masterminds who rallied the Madi community to attack the Acholi on the disputed Apaa land, strongly denied any involvement.
“Allegations have been made against me but I know the investigating department is doing its work. I believe whoever they find involved, including me, I am ready to go to Luzira [Prison] or anywhere, even Nalufenya,” Gen Ali said.
Gen Moses Ali
The Adjumani West County MP faced off with Acholi MPs, Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South) and Anthony Akol (Kilak North), who claimed he fans the violence in the disputed area.
Olanya repeatedly referred to Ali as the first suspect and urged police to grill him and charge him with inciting his community against the Acholi.
“It is very difficult to trust a lion with your meat. Therefore, you cannot 100 per cent base your argument on a report shared by Gen Ali. There is no conflict between the Madi and Acholi but the only problem is, we have some greedy people who are here conniving with investors to sell the land and deprive our people of their land rights,” Olanya said.
Anthony Akol (Kilak North) insisted that Gen Ali must step aside to allow independent investigations go on. Gen Ali accused Akol and Olanya of turning the clashes into a political platform to incite the Acholi community to attack the Madi.
“Yes, the investigations must go on but not only Moses Ali should be investigated; anyone involved, including Olanya and Akol, must be ready to carry our crosses if we are found guilty,” the minister angrily retorted.
Jessica Ababiku (Adjumani Woman) reminded Olanya that during the 9th Parliament, an investigative report by the Physical Infrastructure committee, which investigated the Amuru and Adjumani boundary disputes in March 2013, accused him of fanning the violence in Apaa.
Eventually, after a protracted debate, a number of MPs, including Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza, proposed the formation of an independent committee to investigate the clashes, but without leaders or individuals from the Madi and Acholi sub-regions.