The former town clerk for Jinja Municipality, David Kyasanku was on Monday tasked by the ongoing commission of inquiry into land management to explain circumstances under which a government property on Plot 60-62 in Jinja was illegally given away to a private individual.
In 2015, the Jinja municipal council hurriedly approved the demolition of a government owned commercial building and eviction of its occupants without securing a court order.
A private developer, Simpson Birungi (proprietor of Movit) had been involved in a court case against the tenants claiming the property had been leased to him.
On January 13 2015, through his company Birus Investments Ltd, Burungi filed an application to municipal authorities requesting that the building on Plot 60-62 along Aldina Road be demolished to enable him develop the property.
One day after, the municipal council convened a meeting chaired by Kyasanku and part of the agenda was consideration of Birungi’s application.
According to the minutes of the January 14 meeting, municipal leaders resolved to demolish the building on grounds that it was ‘an eye sore’ and ugly since it was adjacent to a new magnificent market.
However, when interrogated by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire commission of inquiry into land management on why due diligence was never made, Kyasanku fumbled and denied involvement.
He insisted that the structure hampered the construction of the market since it encroached 4.5 metres into where a bicycle shade was meant to be built.
But information before the commission reveals that the market had been completed a year ago and therefore there was no cause to demolish the building.
“You [council] had a meeting scheduled but you saw it urgent to fix this application on the agenda. Was this not part of a choreographed scheme between you and the developer?” the Lead Counsel to the commission, Ebert Byenkya asked the witness.
Byenkya wondered why a town clerk would make such a decision in total disregard of the rightful property owner (government) as well as the rights of the tenants who had been paying rent to ULC.
“We sat in the meeting but we never issued a demolition order. The police demolished the building at night, I got to discover in the morning because I had traveled to Kampala,” Kyasanku said in response.
He admitted to having not cross checked with ULC to ascertain the authenticity of the applicant’s land title as procedure demands. “Looking at these documents, I think that was a mistake that was missed. It was an error.”
The said property was on June 1, 1963 leased out to Uganda Land Commission (ULC) by Jinja Urban Authority for a period of 99 years.
Kyasanku who is currently Town Clerk of Kasese Municipality also failed to explain why the municipal authorities ignored the fact that Birungi’s lease had been cancelled by the Registrar of Titles in 2014 and a notice issued to that effect.
The cancellation had followed a report by the IGG which indicated that the lease had been obtained through a fraudulent process.
“You are shallow, unconcerned, completely uninterested. You as a town clerk, what did you do to implement the IGG’s report?” an enraged Justice Bamugemereire lashed out at the witness.
“You are highly educated, you are supposed to be the last bastion of strength that the district but all we have from you is collusion, compromise and condonation of illegal activities,” she added.
Relatedly, the Jinja Municipality Physical Planner, Charles Nampendo told the commission on Monday afternoon that the said investor (Birungi) to date has never secured an occupation permit, which run renders the occupation bof his new building illegal.
In addition, he said that the structure didn’t comply with the approved physical plan.
This Jinja land matter which was prompted by a complaint lodged to the commission of inquiry by the affected tenants has since sucked in Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura, former Minister of Local Government Kahinda Otafiire, Toyota who is brother to the President and Senior Police including the late AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi.