Members of the 10th Parliament have expressed concern that Uganda has lost a number of properties in Kenya and is set to lose more due to the unfriendly Kenyan land policies.
This was highlighted while legislators were debating a statement by the Minister of State for East African Community Affairs, Julius Wandera Maganda on the forthcoming celebrations to mark 20 years of EAC integration.
The members noted that despite Uganda being so lenient to other EAC member States, the neighbors have continued to treat Ugandans unfairly and denying them rights and privileges that would be shared as Members States.
The legislators noted that whereas citizens from regional countries have been allowed to own property as well as set up businesses in Uganda, this hasn’t been reciprocated when it comes to Ugandans in these countries.
MPs were bitter to learn that Uganda is on the verge of losing her property in Mombasa and Kisimu to Kenyan government that is unwilling to renew the expiring leases.
“As a committee of COSASE, we visited the Uganda Property Holdings Limited (UPHL) in Kenya and they told us that if you are not a Kenyan, you are not allowed to own any property. In fact, properties of Uganda Property Holdings Limited have all been taken over by Kenyan government in Mombasa,” noted Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda.
This information alarmed the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga who wondered how Uganda can lose its property to a sister country within the same region.
“I am very alarmed that our properties in Mombasa bought by tax payers’ money are going to be confiscated by a brother government. Are we going to just sit and watch?” Kadaga wondered.
In response, the Minister of Veteran Affairs, Bright Rwamira told the House that to the best of his knowledge, the properties in Kenya are not under UPHL but owned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“To the best of my knowledge, all those properties in Kenya are under Ministry of Foreign Affairs and therefore are property of the Embassy of Uganda in Kenya and they are supposed to be protected,” Rwamirama said.
This was however contested by Busiro East MP, Medard Ssegona who noted that efforts to transfer the properties to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have since failed.
“I am aware that these properties belong to the Ministry of Finance, there were attempts to place them under Ministry of Foreign Affairs but that didn’t succeed. Isn’t it right that we direct the Ministry of Finance to report on the status of our properties in Kenya part of which I know the leases are expiring in one year and are not liable for renewal,” Ssegona noted.
In her ruling, the Speaker directed the Ministry of Finance to report to the House within a fortnight to give an update on the status of the properties in Mombasa and Kisumu especially the legal status because the leases are expiring.