Minister Amongi Grilled by Bamugemereire Commission; Forgets English, Asks for Luo Translator
Minister Betty Amongi Denies Role in Grabbing Asians' Land
The Catherine Bamugemereire Commission on Tuesday grilled lands minister Betty Amongi over alleged land grabbing, to the extent that she forgot her English and asked for a Luo translator.
Amongi had refused to appear before the commission twice, but President Yoweri Museveni urged her to honour the summons.
The minister reportedly used her company, Amobet Investments Ltd, to grab Asians’ properties.
One of these properties belongs to Indian national Ashak Mandakini Patel, 53.
Amongi and Amobet applied to the for the Departed Asians Property Custodians Board (DAPCB) for allocation of Patel’s land on Plot 29 Acacia Avenue, on Kololo Hill.
Patel’s mother was one of the Asians chased by former President Idi Amin Dada in the 1970s.
A building on this land now houses Midcom Telecom Company which pays $9000 a month.
Patel returned to manage the land and property in 1995.
But Mubiru wrote to him to vacate the land.
DAPCB had allocated the plot to Amobet, Mubiru had told Patel.
It was Amobet managing director Henry Mubiru who made the application.
Mubiru also applied for Plot 15-17 on First Street Industrial Area Kampala, Plot 12A Prince Charles Drive, and Plot 21 Kyaddondo.
Patel refused to leave the land — and Amongi summoned him to her office.
That was when he decied to run to the Bamugemereire commission.
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DAPCB is under the finance ministry. And Amongi is a member of the board.
The commission therefore sought to find out how the company in which Amongi owns 60 per cent shares had acquired the properties from DAPCB for which she is a board member.
Court documents show that Mubiru applied to DAPCB on December 12, 2017 and the board executive secretary approved the allocation on December 14, 2017 — that was two days later.
“For me as a businesswoman, I am very strict on deadlines; even I as a minister I can handle matters within hours,” said Amongi.
“The custodian board doing it in two days, I think they can be looked at as efficient.”
She also denies knowledge that Mubiru had applied for the properties.
“Because both of us [Amongi and her sister and co-director Cate Odongo] are busy, Mubiru was given powers to run the company,” said Amongi. “The person applied and at that time, I had no knowledge about it.”
“He had knowledge of all these opportunities and for us as directors we gave him lee way, and told him to only come to us when there are emergencies.”
Amongi also said she was not aware of the rent rates, and denied any conflict of interest since the DAPCB activities are run by the executive secretary.
“I really don’t know how the custodian board rates their rent. You should inquire from the custodian board,” she said.
“During the time I’ve been part of the board, we’ve been made to know that temporary issues of terms is done by the executive secretary.”
Amongi would later ask for a Luo translator, pretending not to know English.