Kampala. Government gave out the Namulonge agricultural research institute land it leased to property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia to Makerere University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-Security in 2007, Daily Monitor has established.
Documents seen by this newspaper show that President Museveni on July 25, 2007, directed then Education minister Namirembe Bitamazire to allocate Plot 9, Block 158, in Nakyesasa, Namulonge, to the college for upgrading into a regional veterinary college.
Daily Monitor last week broke a story where the President, in a March 12 letter, directed Lands minister Daudi Migereko to give 1,000 acres of the land to Mr Ruparelia’s company, Premier Roses, for flower growing and fruit processing.
But the same piece of land belongs to the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI), Namulonge, with the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) as the custodian.
In the July 25, 2007 letter that handed over Namulonge to Makerere, President Museveni said he had had several discussions with the university management and that the latter suggested that they would upgrade the then Faculty of Veterinary Medicine into a regional veterinary college.
“Furthermore, the issue of Nakyesasa Farm to be allocated to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was discussed and I agreed that it should be allocated to them for teaching purpose and research,” Mr Museveni’s letter read in part.
“You should, therefore, liaise with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to effect this transfer unless there are strong reasons why that should not be so,” the letter added.
The college dean, Dr David Kabasa, when contacted, said he was travelling and could not comment, referring this reporter to NARO director general Ambrose Agona.
Dr Agona said the land belongs to NARO although it is hosting Makerere projects as per the President’s directive.
He said after the transfer of the Nakyesasa land to Makerere University, a presidential initiative - SPEDA-AFRISA - was established in order to establish a regional college of veterinary excellence.
“Currently, we are hosting several projects managed by the veterinary faculty and a number of projects aimed at improving quality of animal production,” said Dr Agona. Asked what could have caused the President’s change of heart to give the same land to Mr Ruparelia, Minister for Presidency Frank Tumwebaze said the President is not against any development or research.
Minister speaks out
“President Museveni is a promoter of science. His directives are purely deliberate and policy strategic decisions to woo and motivate investors, no other motives,” Mr Tumwebaze said on Monday.
“We have many instances where such directives have yielded good results; a good example is Garden City. The President directs ministers to act within the law and if there are local administrative issues [misinforming of the President], then those concerned ministers should sit and harmonise these matters,” he added.
Education minister Jessica Alupo declined to comment on the matter, saying she did not have any information.
Meanwhile, the family of the late Mbaziira Katamirike, which leased the NaCRRI land to the British government in 1945, has said Mr Ruparelia has no business over the land unless the current lease is terminated or expires, and he applies for it from their family. The running lease expires in 2045.
“If government gave Sudhir this land, then he was given air. This is our land, part of which measuring 2,200 acres, was leased to the British government for cotton research,” Mr Michael Kitamirike, a family member, said in an interview yesterday.
Mr Kitamirike said they would seek court redress should government proceed and lease the land to Mr Ruparelia.
Mr Ruparelia last week told Daily Monitor that three ministers approved one of his companies’ request to lease the land.