By Andrew M. Mwenda
Sometime last week, information leaked that some grain dealers mainly Mandela Millers and Aponye were not happy with the supply of Covid-19 relief foods. The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) had insisted that Mandela and Aponye were not prequalified to supply maize flour and beans. The OPM indicated that its accredited suppliers had not failed to deliver and therefore was no need to go for unaccredited suppliers.
Aponye through his contacts managed to get a contract to supply the first batch on Saturday April 4. Mandela worked the phone and reached his attorney, Apollo Nelson Makubuya, a former Deputy Katikkiro in Buganda.
Makubuya is well connected at State House and within government circles. He knows how to get deals including the dubious ones at Bank of Uganda where his company MAKKS Advocates was the lead law firm in the questionable sale of Crane Bank to DFCU Bank.
Makubuya worked the phone and got through to his State House contacts and alerted them that the OPM was dealing with more expensive dealers yet his beloved Mandela would supply at a low deal. The arrest of the OPM Permanent Secretary was as a result of Makubuya’s intervention.
Known for cracking questionable deals, Makubuya then had a meeting at State House in Nakasero with President Museveni which was also attended by Robert Kabushenga, the Vision Group CEO and a fixer of such appointments as well as Francis Kamulegeya of auditing firm PWC. Kamulegeya and Makubuya are close friends and his role according to sources was to convince the president that procurement regulations haven’t been followed to the letter. He is an experienced auditor with a global company, what he says is believable.
With the president’s ear now secured, Makubuya made the pitch. Mandela would donate two brand new pick up Toyota Hilux vehicles to the National Covid-19 Taskforce each worth Shs250m. The president was impressed with this donation. Makubuya didn’t stop there, he said Mandela would mobilise his other friends to give more.
“Your excellency, I will also ensure the Kabaka donates. Once he donates the rest will be easy as everyone will now want to be part of this. I will talk to the Kabaka to make the donation himself. Once that is done, everyone will line up to give,” Makubuya promised.
Meanwhile in Mengo, plans were underway to donate with Mengo talking to OPM to allow them donate directly to the beneficiaries. The Kabaka wanted the food to be given to Bakateyamba Home in Nalukolongo and other such charity homes that look after many people.
The OPM in previous meetings had agreed to this arrangement but had not yet issues the letter now with Makubuya’s interventions, Prime Minister Rugunda changed his mind. Kabaka said he could donate when the lockdown is over. Makubuya reported back to Museveni that his plan to raise money for Covid-19 were being hampered by the Kabaka.
State House sources say that is when Tamale Mirundi came in and started abusing the Kabaka for not giving back to the community. Makubuya, Kabushenga, and Don Wanyama’s social media teams then went into full gear attacking the Kabaka for not giving back.
As Kabaka was mulling over the next move, Mandela called Prince David Wasajja and told him he would donate all the posho needed. On the same day, Kabaka is said to have received a phone call from State House. It is not clear what President Museveni discussed with the Kabaka but the Kabaka softened his stance and allowed the donation to go on.
At the give away, Makubuya came together with Rugunda to receive the Kabaka’s donation and spoke as a Presidential Advisor. But there was still one problem.
Mandela and Aponye were not happy. Makubuya was telling the president that the private sector is not willing to contribute if their maize is lying idle in big silos in Nalukolongo and Nateete. Mandela had promised to mobilise fellow businessmen to donate a lot and was now refusing to act. Makubuya went to meet Mandela. A hot debate ensued with Mandela acusing Makubuya of not delivering on his promise. “What are those OPM staff still doing in office? Why do I pay you?” Mandela reportedly asked. Makubuya promised to make things work.
With the economy shrinking due to the lockdown, Museveni instructed Lt Col Nakalema to sort out the problem at OPM. Nakalema swung in action. With the OPM Permanent Secretary arrested, Museveni announced that Makubuya, Kabushenga, and Kamulegeya will be joined by Emmanuel Katongole to mobilise businessmen to give resources. Makubuya had finally evolved from a confidant of the Kabaka to Museveni’s advisor on Covid-19.