President Yoweri Museveni has halted the sale of the property belonging to the Uganda National Chambers of Commerce and Industries-UNCCI in Lira municipality.

“I have now learnt that the Privatization Unit is acting against my directive by selling buildings of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lira municipality. Why was my directive never implemented? Why should government dispose of its properties that can be utilized by other government agencies for development?” reads Museveni’s June 6th letter to the Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija.

Adding that, “I therefore direct that you immediately to stop the sale of these buildings at Lango Restaurant (plot 85) near main market and another at plot 25 Obote Avenue, investigate those that were sold after my directive and take corrective measures and thereafter inform me about the state of the matter.”

In his letter, Museveni observes that during a meeting he chaired at State House on March 24, 2015 attended by the then state minister for privatization Aston Kajara, the Director Privatization Unit, Moses B. Mwase and Olive Kigongo, the president UNCCI among others, he confirmed that government had donated the above buildings to UNCCI, saying the privatization unit isn’t allowed to sell them.

He therefore directed the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga to liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the properties that are legally handed over to UNCCI. The letter is copied to the Prime Minister, Attorney General, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, Minister of State for Privatization, Solicitor General, Chairman Uganda Land Commission and UNCCI Chairman.

According to information obtained from our sources, Lira Butcheries Association reportedly took advantage as a sitting tenant of plot 85 on Obote Avenue to try and buy it from the Finance Ministry on behalf of a Lira based businessman, Geoffrey Etwop. Francis Ogema, the spokesperson UNCCI Lira branch, says procurement procedures laid out in the PPDA act were not followed in the matter.

Meanwhile Lira High court is scheduled to rule on a petition in, which Private Sector Development Foundation accuses UNCCI Lira branch for illegal eviction from its building on plot 25 Obote Avenue. Francis Ogema, the spokesperson UNCCI Lira branch, says they evicted Private Sector Development Foundation when they tried to take advantage of their position as sitting tenants to buy off the building with their knowledge.

“It is true that we evicted them because after we gave them office space, they wanted to buy the building without our knowledge yet they have neither been paying rent to the Ministry nor us,” Ogema said. The matter will come up for ruling on Thursday before Justice Cissy K. Mudashi.