Custodian Board has become a wild cat by eating its kittens —Ambassador Kezaala

Last Updated on: 18th July 2022, 03:36 pm

According to Kezaala, the Board has to be abolished.

By Nelly Otto 

Jinja, July 18, 2022: The former mayor of Jinja Municipality  Mohammed Baswari Kezaala has asked parliament to intervene in the heavy losses being incurred by the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) saying it has become a liability to the country.

Records available indicate that the scandal-hit Board has lost nearly all the cases filed against the Attorney General (AG) who is the government lawyer because its officials do not appear or send lawyers.

“…we are tempted to suspect foul play among some custodian board officials and government lawyers who collude to benefit from the costs and damages the ordinary taxpayer has to pay…,” Kezaala expressed concern.

Kezaala, now the Deputy Head of Mission in Qatar uses one old African proverb which says a pet cat changes its name immediately to a wild cat the moment it begins eating its own kittens to describe the gross economic mess caused by the Custodian board officials.

“…their continued stay as a fully-fledged board with no clear roles means they had to design their own roles and the result is the current mess of challenging its own decisions made 30 years ago…” Kezaala said.

The former DP strongman suggests that the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development should have a desk officer at its headquarters whose role is to keep records of former custodian board properties.

Giving a catalogue of cases and reports from the Auditor General’s office to justify the disbandment of the board, Kezaala recommends that the government urgently handles the matter which continues to discourage potential investors interested in coming to Uganda.

Addressing his native residents of Jinja, Kezaala describes it as scandalous and shameful that the people could fight over buildings which they or their ancestors did not construct.

“…stop being lazy, what you are doing is a form of looting in 1979 when people broke into shops and houses that belonged to Nubians suspected to be linked to Amin and all those who were part of his government…” the politician cum diplomat counselled.

He also urged the current crop of Jinja leadership to dig deeper and appreciate the history and vision for the city as opposed to falling in for cheap populist politics of wanting to appease voters for the next elections.

Kezaala regretted that most leaders have become myopic and lost focus of the big picture of building a prosperous Jinja turning anything to do with the Indians into a money-generating project instead of being objective.

“… if the city is not developed you will still not develop and will not be voted back on that account, and don’t forget that these are also Ugandans living and doing businesses in other countries including India…,” he rebuked.

He continued to lecture fellow indigenous leaders saying a leader can take an objective decision which may not appeal to the voters but in the interest of development adding voters are intelligent people but at times do not move at the same pace as the leaders.

He cited the Shipyard Project established in Masese zone which was a DP stronghold where ordinary people used for fishing, cage farming and selling dry fish took offence and led to his ouster from office during the 2016 elections to Majid Batambuze (NRM).

“…they took offence and showed me a red card but today they are the happiest people with the Shipyard Project which will employ their children like I had pleaded with them at that time…” the former mayor says.

Referencing the above, Kezaala implores the Jinja leadership to come out strongly on these former custodian boards without fear or favour if they mean seriousness in the leadership positions they are serving.

“…the fact that the government has been quiet through this saga of natives versus Indians over repossessed properties, an exercise which was done under government’s blessings and watches, tantamount to a conspiracy of silence…,” Kezaala who once served as DP National chairman said.

He also wants the government to come out and strongly pronounce itself on this subject, adding if certain commissions were done in the repossession exercise, let the government own up and allow sanity to prevail for meaningful development to take place.

Kezaala also asks Parliament to demand the court bills since the MPs represent the taxpayers and likened the continued existence of the custodian board after it closed business to the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) set up after the World War II to help rebuild the shattered postwar economy and to promote international economic cooperation.

He says after the two objectives were achieved, instead of closing shop, the two bodies continued to operate and justified their stay by designing new responsibilities of managing the IMF system and lending money to poor countries which want to develop (WB) policies have only served to further sink less developed countries in abject poverty.

“…so is the Custodian Board. It was set up by Idi Amin’s government to manage properties that were left by the departed Asians expelled and it did a good job but now the same custodian is challenging its own decisions it made 30 years back and relocating what is already cleared for repossession…” Kezaala concluded.

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