By Spy Uganda
Judgement in the 8-year-old case in which Legal Brains Trust (LBT), a Kampala-based human rights watchdog, seeks orders of the Constitutional Court compelling city tycoon Hassan Bassajabalaba and 19 other elite respondents, including his bankers (Orient, Tropical, UBA and Baroda) to refund Shs169 billion which they received from the Central Bank in 2011 shall be delivered on Thursday, January 23, 2020 (today).
Basajjabalaba’s Haba Group of Companies allegedly got the money as compensation following the cancellation of contracts he had entered into with the defunct KCC to own and manage Owino, Nakasero, Shauliyako and Nakawa markets and the Constitution Square.
Other respondents are the Attorney General, Bank of Uganda and its governor Prof Tumusiime-Mutebile, KCCA and 4 former town clerks of the defunct KCC (James Ssegane, Ruth Kijjambu, Gordon Mwesigye and William Tumwine), former ministers Syda Bumba and Prof Kiddu Makubuya, and the 4 commercial banks Orient, Tropical, UBA and Baroda.
Legal Brains Trust lawyers argue that they all knowingly facilitated the questioned transactions for personal gain, and to the detriment of the Ugandan citizens, for whom these funds would have availed the much needed medicine in rural hospitals, long-awaited salary enhancement for teachers, judicial officers, and other vulnerable civil servants, as well as sanitary towels for girls, among other social amenities.
Although the President led a historic walk against corruption on December 4, 2019, the scourge continues to deplete the public treasury.
Will court eventually join the “Walk Against Corruption” and recognize the “right to a corrupt-free society” by issuing an innovative and impactful remedy?
Or will it continue with the “Talk Against Corruption” by offering the culprits a declaratory slap on the wrist? Only time will tell.
The case is potentially precedent-setting. Whatever the outcome, this judgment will definitely have far-reaching consequences on the marriage of convenience between Uganda’s political and finance elites,said Isaac Ssemakadde, the executive director of Legal Brains Trust, on receiving the notice of judgment.