Soldiers from Internal Security Organisation (ISO) have finally withdrawn from a factory project site in Namanve industrial park, which they had cordoned off and denied the legitimate investor access to for a long time, with impunity.
The soldiers left reportedly after the President’s intervention. Several interventions by the Ministry of Finance and Uganda Investment Authority to have the site accessible had fallen on deaf ears as the investor and the project suffered losses.
When State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite and the investor went to the site last Friday, the ISO soldiers guarding the site refused to leave and said they had been deployed there by ISO director general Col Bagenda Kaka.
It is puzzling how ISO got involved in such an investment matter. ISO’s primary mandate is to gather and process intelligence information on crime and national security.
The Namanve case was neither a criminal nor a security matter. One wonders which national security interest ISO was pursuing in a civil dispute over ownership of an investment plot in a government industrial park when there are statutory authorities mandated to manage investment affairs in the country and resolve such disputes.
ISO has no mandate or justification whatsoever to meddle in the process of determining which investor should get which land. That is the mandate of other statutory bodies such as Uganda
Investment Authority (UIA), ministry of Finance and Uganda Land Commission. True there was a dispute between two rival investors over the land. But UIA had resolved that matter.
This impunity by some errant security officers who think they can take over powers of other government authorities must be stopped. Whoever deployed soldiers at the Namanve site should be held accountable and punished.
If this kind of abuse and impunity is not punished, it will undermine investor confidence in the country’s statutory institutions mandated to handle investment and discourage other prospective investors. Legitimate and honest investors will not invest in a country where success of their projects depends on the whim and will of powerful individuals in government, rather than the established statutory bodies.
Institutions of government should be allowed to work and their decisions must be respected.
The aggrieved investor in the Namanve site dispute was deprived of the land by UIA. If he/she was dissatisfied with the decision he/she should have sought redress from established avenues of arbitration and justice such as courts of law.