By Julius Kyamanywa
Even if the NRM Chief Whip, Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko was in any opposition party, she could not have implicated Security Minister Amama Mbabazi in the recently “concluded” NSSF-Temangalo land saga because she has a similar case to handle.
Many people think Kabakumba gave “the necessary support” to Mbabazi because he (Mbabazi) is at a higher level in the leadership ladder of the NRM Party ranks and perhaps because they are both ministers.
This is a precious moment for those who did not know that the Chief Whip is also embroiled in a land scandal in Bujenje, a constituency she represents in parliament. She bought over 200 acres of land and over 280 families are sleeping under fears of being evicted any time by the princess. Maybe, Mrs Masiko should count herself lucky that there wasn’t any one to give a political blessing to her land scandal like Muhwezi and Banyenzaki did in the Mbabazi case.
Let me first give the light of how Kabakumba supported Security Minister Amama Mbabazi to sway successfully through a scandal that looked to threaten his political career.
On Tuesday, 7th. October, a time when investigations into the alleged influence peddling by the Mbabazi were going on, Kabakumba is reported to have surrendered her parliamentary office to be used as a venue for a meeting between her party Secretary General and 12 of the 14 NRM members on the parliamentary committee that was investigating Mbabazi. It was the same members who came up with a Minority report that is said to have exonerated the Minister.
The clear similarity between the ministers in the face of the scandals is that they both have tenants who are being threaten with eviction or have not been compensated.
During the NSSF-Temangalo investigation, five of the 13 families that appeared before the NSSF probe committee were on the land that Mbabazi sold. The families were crying for help that they had not been compensated yet they were bona-fide occupants on the 463 acres that NSSF bought. Mbabazi said he had been in touch with the tenants and had assured them that their matter would be handled to their satisfaction, a thing the tenants denied.
Influence peddling and use of political offices in making things move is not a perquisite of Mbabazi but also others like Kabakumba as well. She has been accused of using her position in buying the Bujenje Estate, a thing she has consistently denied.
As I said above, over 280 families in Bujenje County, which Kabakumba represents in parliament, are crying over a planned eviction by the chief whip. The minister claims to have bought over 200 acres of land that the residents say have lived on for more than 10 years. The affected residents are the villages of Ikoba, Bihanga and Kityedo. Kabakumba has reportedly issued these tenants with eviction notices on top of stopping them from constructing permanent houses and growing perennial crops.
Well, Kabakumba has for several times to explain to the people through the local media, particularly radio Kitara that she bought the land genuinely but her words have not been taken to the bottom of the innocent tenants. Many blame the Whip for having used her political office to influence the sale of the land to her. Her critics add that as a representative of the people in the Constituency, Kabakumba did not tell her subjects that custodian board was selling the land. They say she used her advantage, as a member of parliament to buy the land without informing the tenants, who say would have bought it.
I think Kabakumba realised that her resilience would not yield political fruits in the next election and she has decided to change the approach. She has reportedly encouraged the tenants to buy the land from her at a customer friendly price. She seem to have foreseen the political outcome if maintained the original line, with the outcome of the 2006 parliamentary elections still in her mind. Kabakumba nearly lost little known Robert Giffen Kamulindwa who was on an independent ticket. Kamulindwa won in Kabakumba’s home sub county of Bwijanga.
At all costs, the Chief Whip, whether in the ruling party or not, as a minister or not would have done all possible to say any one facing a similar scandal since she knows how sweet it tastes.