Uganda People’s Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
NOW PULKOL GROUP CLAIMS UGANDA HOUSE IS ON SALE.
In their latest exercise to plant and cause discord, discontent, hatred and confusion within UPC, the Pulkol Group is spreading disinformation that UPC leadership is conniving with MOF to sell off Uganda House.
They claim that by lifting the caveat on MOF property at Plot 37/39 Fifth Street, Industrial; Area, Kampala the Party President has paved the way to the sale of Uganda House.
We need to put the record clear. It is a public knowledge that there was a civil case filled in 2007 between Milton Obote Foundation (MOF) and Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), which case was settled amicably out court in May 2009.
Among the terms of that settlement was that “UPC shall withdraw the caveat lodged on MOF properties, except Plot 37/39, Fifth Street, Industrial Area, Kampala”.
Indeed the caveats on the rest of MOF properties were withdrawn including that on Uganda House. Mama Miria Obote, as President of the Party, and Mr. Chris Opoka-Okumu as Secretary General signed the instrument withdrawing that caveat on 28th May, 2009
In June 2011 MOF called a meeting between Board of Governors of MOF and UPC leadership to be held on 17 June, 2011. The proposed agenda included an item on the lifting of the caveat on Plot 37/39 Fifth Street. In preparation for that meeting the Party President convened a Party Cabinet meeting and specifically invited Mr. Chris Opoka-Okumu and Hon. Okello to attend that meeting so that they would share with the Cabinet their institution memory and knowledge on matters concerning MOF. Mr. Olara Otunnu chaired that meeting to the very end. No advice not to lift the caveat was given at that meeting. A subsequent meeting chaired by the Vice President only discussed the size and composition of the UPC team which was to meet with MOF.
On 17 June, 2011, the Board of Governors of MOF and UPC leadership met under the chairmanship of Mr. B.N. Barungi. The UPC team consisted of:
- Mr. Olara Otunnu – Party President
- Mr. Joseph Bossa – Party Vice President
- Major Edward Rurangaranga – National Chairman
- Hon. John Odit – Secretary General
- Mrs. Ruth Masika – National Woman Leader
- Mr. Chris Opoka Okumu – Special Envoy
- Mr. Sospater Akwenyu – Special Envoy, Official of Party President
- Mr. Francis Kiyonga – Chief of Staff
On the subject under contention, MOF explained that the request to lift the caveat on Plot 37/39 Fifth Street was to enable MOF raise funds in order to implement its priority projects under its six-year Strategic Plan. Among those who spoke on the part of UPC team was Mr. Chris Opoka Okumu. UPC team having expressed the view that it had no objection in principle, the meeting agreed to lifting the caveat with no pre-conditions.
However, some days after the meeting with MOF Mr. Chris Opoka-Okumu informed the Secretary General (SG) that after the court settlement, MOF had been requested by the Party to avail the Party of the report on the internal investigation MOF had conducted into the lease on Plot 37/39 Fifth Street and that that report had not been submitted. That information was drawn to the attention of the Party President. Mr. Chris Opoka –Okumu was asked to give that information to the Party President in writing. He did so by his memo dated 7th September, 2011 where he stated in paragraph 5, “The Board of Governors did not send a copy of that report to the Party even though the Party in principle had no objection to the lifting of the caveat”.
On the basis of information in that memo, senior party leadership, i.e. Party President, Vice President, National Chairman and Secretary General asked SG to write to MOF requesting for the report Mr. Opoka-Okumu had alluded to.
In a letter to the Group General Manager, MOF dated 8th September, 2011 SG requested for that report for the first time. He wrote, “You recall that at the last joint meeting of MOF Governors and UPC, it was agreed that the caveat on the said property be lifted. The Party President reiterated the Party position that in principle, it had no objection to having the caveat lifted”. It is not true, as Mr. Chris Opoka-Okumu writes, that SG requested for that report even before the 17th June meeting between MOF and UPC leaderships.
In his reply dated 30th September, 2011 the Group General Manager, MOF informed SG in part:-
“Nevertheless, I hereby summaries(sic) the observations and conclusions of the meetings between MOF’s Sub-committee chaired by Mr. Peter Walubiri who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustee as follows:
- The sub-committee studied the Deed of Sub Lease, noted the anomalies in the Deed of Sub-Lease and held several meetings over their findings with the Sub Leaser, M/s Bharwani Group Ltd. There were long delays in the meetings because the proprietor Mr. Bharwani lives in Canada.
- The Bharwani Group were not prepared to revisit the Deed of Sub-Lease were prepared for any legal proceedings MOF wish to undertake.
- BGL however agreed to consider paying of higher rental fee as compensation for perceived faulty Deed of Sub-Lease Agreement gave them the first option to rent development in the premises.
The Sub-Committee after taking in consideration BGL’s position and possible prolonged legal battle delays if MOF went to court for legal redress, finally agreed with BGL as follows:
a) That the Deed of Sub-Lease signed in 2004 between MOF and Bharwani Group Ltd be retained as it is.
b) MOF charges higher rent for proposed warehouse or any other new developments in the premises to compensate for perceived short comings in the Sub-Lease Agreement.
c) BGL had indicated interest in the construction of the warehouse and a higher prevailing rent for the new warehouse was negotiated by the sub-committee. The amount was negotiated after obtaining a professional valuation report.”
Mr. Chris Opoka-Okumu writes to Mr. Patrick Aroma and boldly states “UPC Cabinet never took the decision to lift the caveat. Otunnu did.” The truth is that on 8th November, 2011 the UPC Cabinet met to consider the reply by MOF regarding the lifting of the caveat. That Cabinet meeting was attended by;
- Mr. Olara Otunnu – Party President
- Mr. Joseph Bossa – Vice President
- Major Edward Rurangaranga – National Chairman
- Hon. Rev. Fr. Jacinto Ogwal – Vice National Chairman
- Hon. John Odit – secretary General
- Mr. David Baliraine – Secretary for Workers
- Ms. Winifred Adio – Assistant National Treasurer
- Mr. Emmanuel Rukundo – Assistant National Youth Leader
The unanimous decision of the Cabinet as recorded in Min 05 of that meeting reads as follows:
Min.05. Lifting of caveat on MOF property in Industrial area
The Party President gave the background to the issue including the July formal meeting between the Party and MOF during which the Party agreed to lift the caveat; subsequently, however, a strong objection was raised by former Secretary General Chris Opoka Okumu. This led to a communication to MOF, seeking further information. The response from MOF was noted.
After due deliberations, the following decisions were made:
I. Although the Party would have wished to receive more complete information from MOF on the arrangements concerning the property in question and MOF’s internal findings, it was nevertheless decided that, in order to facilitate the projects MOF has in the pipeline, the Party will abide by its earlier decision to lift the caveat placed on the MOF property in industrial area. PP will inform chairman of MOF accordingly.
II. The Party should concentrate its attention on building a new relationship with MOF, based on constructive spirit, mutual transparency, and mutual accountability.
It is clear from the events laid out above that the UPC Party President did not sign in haste the lifting of the caveat instrument. He took care to listen to and consider all information on the matter. In the end it was the Cabinet that decided that the caveat be lifted.
Before I let this matter rest I wish to say a word on the broad issue of decision making and leadership in a political context.
Some decisions are taken through consensus, some unanimously and others by majority. In yet others the leader takes a judgment call after listening to all opinions and views. My observation overtime is that Mr. Chris Opoka Okumu and his ilk will accept and respect only those decisions where their view prevailed. They go further. They would want the UPC Party President to be a ceremonial or symbolic president. They would want different individuals to have their Chiefdoms within the Party. Short of that, to them Olara Otunnu becomes a dictator and micro-manager. They won’t let the President be president.
- The current Party President has never signed any instrument lifting a caveat on Uganda House.
- The caveat on Plot 37/39 Fifth Street was lifted following a collective Party Cabinet decision to do so which was consistent with the long standing Party position.
- Neither UPC Party President nor the Party Cabinet has any knowledge that Uganda House is in danger of imminent sale or at all.
Issued at Kampala this 05th day of March, 2012