Museveni confidant grabs Asian's house, stays in it for 23 years

Tuesday March 14 2017

Under contention.  The house located on

Under contention. The house located on Namirembe Road in Kampala. PHOTO by Rachel Mabala 

By Stephen Kafeero


President Museveni’s historical confidant is embroiled in a wrangle over a house which was repossessed in 1994 by an Asian family who were kicked out of the house and the property confiscated by the state during president Idi Amin’s mass expulsion of Asians in 1972.

Ms Malita Namayanja aka Mama Chama supported President Museveni during the 1981-86 Bush War that brought the current government into power. Various corroborating accounts by insiders in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) indicate Mama Chama maintains strong links to the President.

Mr Museveni has, in several directives to government officials as early as since 2002, ordered that his Bush War comrade allocated an alternative residence to allow the Asian family of Ms Khatoon Hudda regain their property, but the repossession has not happened despite several court orders.

The property is located on Plot 26, Namirembe Road in Kampala.
In February 2010, President Mr Museveni wrote to the Attorney General and Justice Minister, ordered that Ms Namayanja and a one Major Mubezi be taken to him for counselling.

“They cannot defy a court order nor can they deny the legal owners access to their property,” Mr Museveni wrote.

Daily Monitor could not readily establish whether Ms Namayanja and Major Mubezi were taken to the President or if they did, what became of the “presidential counselling.”

In June 2015, Mengo Magistrate’s Court issued an order for eviction of Ms Namayanja. However, police did not provide the required security to the bailiffs led by Mr Bonnie Rwamukaaga to carry out the eviction.

The court made the order after a protracted legal battle between the Asian family and the occupants of the house.

An earlier attempt by Baingana Bailiffs and Auctioneers on behalf of the Hudda family to did not yield any success either.
On January 6, 2012, the Minister of Justice Kahinda Otafiire too wrote to the Inspector General of Police to cause “vacant possession” of the property to Ms Hudda but his directive was never implemented.

Instead, Ms Hudda says, the police, citing State House instructions, have always frustrated the family’s attempts to evict the “encroachers” from the property.
Sources say police are reluctant to evict Ms Namayanja for fear of annoying the President.

Ms Hudda says she has spent more than Shs250m, excluding legal fees, in attempts to repossess her house without “embarrassing the President’s friend”. She says her family has lost billions of shillings in revenue which they would have earned had they been allowed to use their property.

In November 2011 Ms Namayanja issued a notice to Ms Hudda, saying she is a kibanja holder as provided for in the Land Act of 1998 which, she argued, gives anyone who has occupied land for more than 20 years a legitimate claim to the property. Ms Namayanja added, however, that she was ready to leave the property upon sufficient compensation.

However Daily Monitor has seen a consent judgment arising from Civil Suit No 89 of 2013 entered between Ms Hudda and Ms Namayanja on February 10, 2015 which shows that compensation has already been done. The consent judgement shows that Ms Hudda paid a compensation of Shs60m to Ms Namayanja.

Mr Eliphaz Katende, a grandson of Ms Namayanja, signed on Ms Namayanja’s behalf. The agreement was witnessed by Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo, a relative of Ms Namayanja.

Mr Wilfred Niwagaba, the lawyer for Ms Namayanja, and Mr Medard Lubega Ssegona, the lawyer for Ms Hudda, also signed the agreement.
Mr Niwagaba, who is also MP for Ndorwa East, says “only dishonesty” can explain why Ms Hudda has not been given possession of her property.

“What you see in the consent judgement is what exactly was agreed on and Honourable Lubega’s client [Ms Hudda] fulfilled her side. The other side is just being dishonest,” Mr Niwagaba said.
Ms Hudda says she also paid money to authorities at Mbuya Army Barracks to renovate a house which had been allocated to Ms Namayanja as per President Museveni’s directive. The house was renovated but Ms Namayanja refused to vacate the Hudda family’s property.

In July 2013, Ms Namayanja said Mr Museveni gave her the house in 1986 in appreciation of her contribution to the Bush War.
Col Jacob Asiimwe, a special presidential assistant who was, according to various correspondences, coordinating Ms Namayanja’s relocation, told this reporter on Thursday that he did not have updated information on the matter.

“The prevailing condition was that she (Ms Namayanja) had to move and State House was making arrangements for the same,” Col Asiimwe said.

In a letter to Kampala Resident City Commissioner in June 2013, Mr Asiimwe indicated that plans were underway to resettle both Ms Namayanja and Mr Mubezi as per President Museveni’s directive.
However, nothing has changed since.

Mr Ebrahim Mawji the original owner of the plot lost it in 1972 following the expulsion of Asians by President Amin. He repossessed the property in April 1994 upon the return of the expelled Asians. Upon his death, the property was bequeathed to his son, Mansur Hudda.

In a January 2002 letter to the Attorney General, Mr Cheborion Barishaki, who was the acting director for Civil Litigation, noted: “ 1998 UPDF soldiers belonging to State House without permission of the lawful attorney, entered the premises comprised of the two buildings and occupied them”.

Mr Cheborion further stated that State House officials took over the premises upon the mistaken belief that the government had compensated the owners. They even lodged a caveat “to protect the alleged government interest in the property”.
Investigations by the Ministry of Defence revealed that the property belonged to Mr Mawji.

On June 29, 1999, State House committed to buy the property in a letter issued by Mr Sikubwabo Kyeyune, who confirmed that Shs200m had been set aside in the 1999/2000 budget to facilitate the purchase.

The following day, the Hudda family wrote a letter agreeing to sell the property at $140,000 (about Shs200m) as at that time. They also demanded rent at Shs900,000 per month until the total purchase price was paid.

Mr Cheborion concluded that the property was lawfully managed by the Hudda family and that “government agents unlawfully occupy the property.”

He then sought the permission of the Attorney General to settle the matter out of court to avoid “escalation of costs.”
By 2011, the Hudda family valued the property at $800,000 (about Shs2.6 billion at the current dollar exchange rate) and the rent arrears at $400,000 (aboutShs1.3 billion) inclusive of 5 per cent interest for the delayed payment.

Ms Hudda’s lawyers say there is no evidence that State House has ever purchased the property or remitted rent except once in the late 1990s when some rent was paid. The lawyers say the payment of part of rent is sufficient admission of liability and proof that State House does not own the property.