A tale of Government Thieves Guild: Muhanga returns UBC title

(DailyNewsUg) WHEN NOBEL prize winner Amartya Senwas was vested with the Jewel of India at a glittering ceremony before the country’s President, Prime minister & Cabinet, and broadcast live on television, it completed the apotheosis of the man dubbed the “Mother Teresa of Economics”. In Uganda, we have our own and the Spotlight is on Margaret Muhanga, Chic of the moment and like her contemporary economist, Margaret Muhanga is the mother of Cow and Goat Economics, the Grand Ma of them all.

She is not a moral debate about right and wrong. And let’s not deceive ourselves; most of these politically connected people working with public sectors in Uganda are closet thieves and crooks who perpetrate all manners of illicit schemes and deals in their workplaces and businesses to amplify their income.

Yesterday Night, MP Margaret Muhanga of Burahya County returned the UBC tittle through City Lawyer Caleb Alaka. Her Lawyer handed over the title on Friday at around 8:00pm to the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) Chairperson, Bugweri County MP Abdul Katuntu at Speke resort Munyonyo.

Background:Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) is the Public Broadcaster of Uganda. The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act stated that the UBC should be funded by the levying of a television license fee. Collection of a license fee set at Ugx 20,000/= 20,000 started in 2005. UBC operates the UBC TV channel and five radio stations. Until May 2011, Edward Musinguzi was the managing director. He was fired along with all of the governing board for “massive corruption” involving unpaid salaries, the sale of land owned by the corporation, and advertisements sold during the 2010 world cup.

UBC management under one Incompetent Muppet MD known as Paul Kihika initiated the sale of UBC land. Many people enjoyed the company. In that party excitement, rush decisions were made and people ending shooting themselves in the foot. The High Court found that this particular transaction was flawed and illegal and struck it down, potentially leaving the original buyers, Hassan Bassajabalaba of Haba Group, without the land or the money they’d paid against an illegal transaction they couldn’t push.

Later, an appeal was made to higher courts of law to throw a spanner in the works of Justice. A bogus consent judgment entered into with the connivance of UBC officials to irregularly countermand or amend judicial orders. Eye-popping transactions in the Lands Department whereby the land was transferred to one party at 2:40pm, a special certificate issued two minutes later, and then the land transferred to yet another party two minutes later. What a stroke of genius! Oh….such a quick-fire transaction can only fly with very senior people in the Lands Office in play.

Fast forward, the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has been investigating the alleged fraudulent purchase of UBC land in Bugolobi a Kampala suburb. It also gave Muhanga up to Friday to produce a land title but she insisted that she had no title, arguing that it was cancelled by the Supreme Court. On October 29, 2015, the Supreme Court maintained rulings of the High Court and Court of Appeal ordering that the transfer of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) land into the name of Burahya county MP, Margaret Muhanga, be cancelled.
All courts cited irregularities in the process through which the land had been sold to Muhanga in 2014 – three years after she had lost her seat in parliament as Kabarole woman MP. Muhanga told a committee that she bought the land from court bailiffs at a cost of sh10b which she paid in cash.

She also claimed she raised the sh10b to buy the land through selling all of them animals – Goats, Sheep, Geese, Cows & (Christmas Turkeys?), a statement which has raised a heated public debate. Well then, she has returned the Land title!

In the end, every society makes trade-offs, negotiates between greater and lesser evils, and ultimately reaches difficult compromises in the public interest. Here we go with Margaret Muhanga, the puff-puff cheeked Babe of the New Goat and Cow economics!



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