Gen Elly Tumwine, the Minister of Security has defied orders by Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga to vacate Nommo Gallery in Nakasero which the General has been running over the years.
Last week Parliament directed Tumwine to vacate Nommo Gallery with immediate effect for his failure to pay rent arrears that have accumulated since 1998. It followed a debate in Parliament on the Committee report on the Ministry of Gender Policy Statements for the financial year 2018/2019.
The Committee Chairperson, Alex Ndeezi told MPs that Creations Limited, a private company owned by the General Tumwine has been occupying Nommo Gallery since 1998 but he has never paid rent to Uganda National Cultural Centre.
In its report, the Committee strongly recommended that Creations Limited immediately pays rent arrears amounting to Shs 7.62 billion before the end of 2018 and vacates Nommo Gallery. Now, defiantly, the Security Minister maintains he will not vacate accusing Government officials of harboring intentions to steal Nommo Gallery.
In an audio interview with Gen Tumwine which has been circulating on social media, he is heard saying he won’t allow government officials to illegally take the gallery.
“Nommo gallery doesn’t belong to government. Nommo gallery belongs to visual artists. Former President Milton Obote gave one of the house belonging to State House in Nakasero to artists and that has been the status since,” Tumwine says.
“They want to steal our gallery, because such government officials, the way i see them, might have intentions to grab it. Muhakanizi and Bigirimana are corrupt,” he said.
“When we came from the bush, I organized artists and we began using it, i appointed a Director”.
Tumwine claims that government has never appropriated any funds towards the maintenance of the disputed gallery.
“Government has never paid for anything. They don’t even know what goes on there. Do they have agreements for rent? We can’t pay rent for something government doesn’t own,” he said.
He accuses Parliament for continuously releasing reports recommending that he vacates the property yet they have never called him to offer explanation regarding the ownership of the gallery.
“In 2013, a similar report came from the same Committee but they have never asked me. It is possible for Parliament to pass something that is impossible,” he said.
Asked whether this isn’t undermining the Speaker, he accused Kadaga of being ill informed. He equally castigated the Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi who partly made the recommendations, for meddling into issues of artists yet he has failed the work in his docket (Finance).
“The Speaker doesn’t understand these things. Unlike Kadaga, i don’t fight to be heard speaking. I fight for the truth. If they built it, let them evict me. They don’t understand what they are saying. I liberated my country. I am using the property genuinely”.