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Politics

Impunity: Gen. Saleh snubs parliamentary probe on looted property of expelled Asians

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By Moses Ssejjoba

Uganda’s first brother Salim Saleh, this Tuesday snubbed members of the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE).

The committee had summoned him for questioning over the property abandoned by Asians expelled from Uganda in the early 1970s. The highly valued property was found by the Auditor General to have dubiously ended in the hands of pseudo-businesspersons who are close to the First Family.

Saleh had been summoned by the Parliamentary Committee to explain his contentious role on the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB).

The board, which is made up of government officials who were named to it by virtue of their offices, had one member who was “co-opted”, and that was General Saleh.

Saleh also happens to have been mired in financial scams throughout his brother’s 33-year rule. It is not surprising therefore that he was conveniently co-opted on the board that was charged with the management of the property valued at tens of billions of shillings. The biggest chunk of this property has disappeared and ended up in the hands of the individuals mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Appearing before the committee, a helpless Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, the supposed chair of the board, was once again on the receiving end of the legislators, grilling him on why he had not come with Gen. Saleh, as earlier ordered. “I contacted him on phone to inform him that he is to appear but he refused; I will resort to writing to him,” Kasaija told the furious legislators.

Of course, both Kasaija and the very members of COSASE know it very well that Saleh, who transacts on behalf of his elder brother, will not answer to any of their summons. He simply is above the law, as long as his brother reigns.

As reported earlier, the probe by parliament was called to action after a report by the auditor general unmasked the disappearance of property – including prime land in some of the most affluent suburbs of Kampala. As it turned out, the custodian board was found not to have information on the current ownership of several plots of land formerly owned by Asians.

That was despite records indicating that they were compensated by the government. For example, the legislators singled out the fact that while the Auditor General’s report claimed the Custodian Board managed the prime Plot 24 along Kampala Road; a court ruling had indicated that it belongs to businessman Sudhir Ruparelia

Other properties in prime areas of Kampala that are in the records of DAPCB 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.

The sharks will keep swallowing up the properties.

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