Information and ICT Minister Hon Frank Tumwebaze has written to the Commission of Inquiry on Lands, erectile asking that it takes time to probe the controversies surrounding land assets belonging to the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).
Minister Tumwebaze, in a letter dated Monday, June 19th, appealed to the commission chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, to inquire into the assets of the national broadcaster, “with the view establishing the exact assets (number, size and location) and their status.”
UBC owns an unestablished number of plots of land in different parts of the country, which land is feared to be at risk of encroachment and grabbing because it is not surveyed or titled. The Corporation also lacks an updated assets register.
UBC over the years has found itself entangled in a number of scandals involving its land.
According to the 2014 report of the Auditor General, the national broadcaster was found to have sold up to 53 acres of land between 2007 and 2011 under fraudulent circumstances that came back to hurt the corporation.
One of its MDs Edward Musinguzi in 2011 was fired after a report from his parent ministry revealed cases of “massive corruption, the sale of corporation land and financial irregularities.”
One of the most controversial scandals involved UBC’s land on Farady Road in Bugolobi.
The 18 acre land was initially purchased in January 2011 by tycoon Hassan Basajabalaba from a Kenyan company which was in a real estate joint venture with UBC, and In April 2011 he transferred it to his own Haba Group of companies.
UBC protested the transaction and cancelled the sale agreement, but by then, Basajja had already sold it to then Burahya County MP Margret Muhanga and another company named Deo & Sons.
Muhanga and Deo & Sons tried to sue UBC for cancellation of the agreement but lost, both in High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Later in 2015, MP Muhanga stunned parliamentarians when she claimed that she has sold her goats to obtain Shs 10billion which she used to acquire the land.
Minister Tumwebaze in his later to the Land Probe commission, showed concern that some pieces of UBC land have over the years been disposed of illegally.
“Up to now there is no clear inventory of the land assets and neither is it easy to establish which land is encumbered or not,” he pointed out.
The minister among others wants Bamugemereire’s commission to establish UBC land assets that were sold off if any, and whether the procedure of the disposal was lawful.