By DailyNewsUg Correspondent
The Nommo Gallery, founded and established in 1964 by the 1959 Act of Parliament, is Uganda’s National Art Gallery and a component of the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC). The Nommo Gallery features exhibitions of works of art by both Ugandan and foreign artists. It sits in a secure location in the heart of Kampala City just next to State Lodge at Nakasero (Plot 4, Victoria Avenue) and boasts of an impressive assortment of art masterpieces from paintings, batiks (tie-and-dye), ceramics, art prints, photographs and sculptors, among others.
Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has ordered Security minister, Gen Elly Tumwiine to vacate Nommo gallery or pay Shs 1.6 billion outstanding rent arrears accumulated since 1998.
Parliament launched an investigation into Gen Tumwiine’s occupancy of Nommo gallery, a public facility set up by Ugandan and foreign artists in 1964.
The artists established Nommo gallery located in Nakasero in 1964 under the 1959 Act of Parliament, a component of Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) and features exhibitions of works of art.
According to the parliamentary committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development report, Creations Limited, a private company owned by Gen Tumwine has been occupying Nommo Gallery since 1998 but the bush war and art-loving general has never paid rent to UNCC.
The report presented to House by committee chairperson MP Alex Ndeezi (PWDs-Central) indicates that efforts to have Gen Tumwine pay rent arrears to a tune of Shs 1.6 billion (as of 2017) continue to be a nightmare. Moreover, every financial year, state funds are allocated for the maintenance of Nommo gallery.
“I think it’s a serious indictment of this House that we have been budgeting for Nommo gallery, when it has been appropriated by one individual. If we don’t stop this impunity, one day someone will come and take over parliament and say, ‘this is my house. I fought in the bush war’ yes…so honourable members, this House directs Hon Tumwine to pay the rent or to vacate because it’s a [Nommo gallery] public facility,” Kadaga said.
“We also want to know from ministry of Gender, which has been receiving this money [that] we budget for? These are public funds, we want an answer about this money before we pass your [Gender ministry] budget,” Kadaga added.
The committee’s recommendations include prevailing over Gen Tumwine to vacate the public facility (Nommo gallery) and his company, Creations Limited to pay rent arrears to a tune of Shs 1.62 billion before the end of this year.
“By 2017, rent arrears had accumulated to Shs 1, 620, 100, 000 and the auditor general has raised concerns over the same matter,” Ndeezi said.
“For the FY 2018/19, Shs 44.6 million has been set aside for the same purpose,” Ndeezi added.
Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala-Mafabi on a point of information, recounted how the general recently invited MP colleagues to a house warming party in his village.
“Hon Tumwine has built a Shs 5 billion Nommo gallery in his home district Kiruhura. He has transferred the Nommo gallery from Kampala to Kiruhura,” Nandala-Mafabi said.
Aruu MP Odonga Otto wondered if parliament could not withhold Tumwine’s emoluments since Nommo gallery that his company manages has defaulted on rent payment for 20 years.
Ndeezi committee also recommended that the annual Shs 44.6 million be re-allocated to National Council for Disabilities to procure office furniture and equipment.
“No funds should be appropriated to Nommo gallery for maintenance until all rent arrears have been recovered,” Ndeezi said. Previous efforts to force Tumwiine to pay rent or vacate the gallery have been futile.