By Our Reporter
Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister Betty Amongi is facing calls to resign over allegations that she was involved in grabbing land belonging to departed Asians following a string of allegations.
Amongi on Tuesday finally offered herself before the commission of inquiry into land matters chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire where she was grilled for about nine hours from midday, and asked to resign her position as a minister in public interest.
Appearing before the Justice Bamugemereire-led Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters, Amongi tried hard but failed to separate herself from the questionable actions of her private company, AMOBET Investment Ltd.
During cross-examination, Justice Bamugemereire asked the minister whether she knew what conflict of interest means and the consequences it carries for a culpable senior government official such as a minister. Before she could answer, the judge asked the minister to read out loud the Leadership Code Act section 5 sub-sections 1 and section 12 sub-section 2.
In reading out loud, the minister said, “A leader cannot put himself or herself in a position in which his or her personal interests conflict with his or her duties and responsibilities. A leader shall not participate in the deliberations of a public body or board or council or commission or committee of which he or she is a member at any meetings at which any matter in which he or she has personal interest is to be discussed.”
She added, “A leader who contravenes that sub section 1 breaches the code and is liable to vacate office or be dismissed…”
“Don’t you see that this Leadership Code Act is asking you what to do?” the judge said, sending a rather tense minister and the audience gathered in the National Records Centre and Archives Building in Wandegeya into laughter.
Amongi is accused of attempting to fraudulently acquire property on Plot 29, Acacia avenue in Kololo, Kampala.
The property in dispute is under leasehold number 235 and registered in the names of Toshak Patel, an architect.
Amongi denied knowing the disputed property on Plot 29, Acacia avenue but documents in possession of the commission showed that the minister has in the past signed off many transactions as managing director of AMOBET.
It is alleged that in December 2017, Amongi through her company, AMOBET, acquired temporary possession of the property after it was repossessed by the Asian family in 1992.
Documents indicate that the allocation by AMOBET, Investments Limited was signed by the executive secretary of the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB), George William Bizibu.
Bizibu who appeared before the Commission on May 7, made some contradictory statements and was subsequently detained for further questioning.
He was also instructed to present to the Commission, documents on the alleged board meetings he held. During cross examination, the seven Commissioners found that Bizibu, without the consent of the full DAPCB board, underestimated properties owned by government and doled them out at giveaway prices.
A case in point is the above mentioned property on Plot 29 Acacia Avenue which commands rent of US$9,000 per month, but was fraudulently allocated to somebody else at a paltry US$150 per month.