Ugandan Asians fear expulsion as MPs dig into assets mess

Friday September 20 2019

Ugandan Asians

Members of the Association of the Expropriated Properties’ Owners Association on September 11, 2019 appear before a Uganda parliamentary sub-committee investigating properties left behind by Asians who left the county during the reign president of Idi Amin. Some expressed fears that the probe is likely to result into a second expulsion. PHOTO | ALEX ESAGALA | DAILY MONITOR 

DAILY MONITOR
By DAILY MONITOR
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A section of Ugandans of Asian origin have expressed fears that the current parliamentary probe into the management and status of properties that were left behind in 1972 is likely to result into a second expulsion.

This is because it is “targeting individuals” instead of tackling the real problem with expropriated properties.

The members of the Association of Expropriated Properties Owners’ Limited, who are being probed by a select taskforce of the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) say it is only President Yoweri Museveni who can save the image of the country by stopping what they call “rewriting Amin’s history”.

“The way the Cosase is handling this matter based on a whistle blower shows that we the people managing expropriated properties are not safe. We fear that whoever is making allegations against us before parliament wants to see Asians expelled again even when we are well known as Ugandans,” said Mr Mohammad Allibhai, the association’s chairman.

Properties

Mr Allibhai and other members of the association told Daily Monitor Thursday that Cosase should look at properties that were never repossessed but are in the hands of individuals, as per the Expropriated Properties Act, 1982, instead of reverting to the government.

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“In other words, we say that there are government officials who have mismanaged the custodian board and those who have influenced the allocation of properties already repossessed, that should be investigated. The president should look into this and guide parliament,” Mr Minex Karia from Property Services Ltd, one of the companies managing repossessed properties, said.

Mr Allibhai, Ms Kassam Mumtaz—the deputy Ugandan Ambassador to Italy— Mr Pradip Karia and Mr Minex Karia (Property Services); Mr Praful Patel, Mr Rajin Taylor and Mr Toshak Patel (all businessmen), are being investigated by Cosase for allegedly forging powers of attorney and letters of administration to repossess hundreds of properties.

All of them, save for Mr Pradip Karia, last week appeared before the Cosase, chaired by Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye East MP), where they each revealed the number of properties they repossessed and they are currently managing on behalf of owners, who never returned to Uganda.

Mr Allibhai said he was authorised to repossess and manage more than 400 properties; Ms Mumtaz said she has more than 100 properties; Mr Taylor manages more than 15 out of the 50 properties whereas Property Services manages more than 50 properties.

The Asians who are yet to be summoned back to parliament for the MPs to meet with them individually to scrutinise the authenticity of the powers of attorney and letters of administration (in case of dead former owners), say Cosase should also probe some of the government departments that have been involved in the management of expropriated properties.

Rental income

They want Cosase and the president to pick interest in accountability for the rental income from departed properties since 1993 when repossession window ended, the truth about the people whose properties were compensated and the whereabouts of the Sh800 million that was in International Credit Bank at the time it was closed in 1993.

Mr Allibhai said parliament should also investigate whether the government through Bank of Uganda really compensated former owners.

Different official reports that include the Auditor General’s report on the Special Audit into DAPCB put the figure of properties left behind by Asians at 8,965 whereas the report by James Mackoy, a technical consultant with DAPCB (1989-1994) estimates them to be between 9,000 and 10,000.

It is a submission of the association that 4,063 properties were returned to their owners while 1,589 were fully paid for out of the 1,676 that the government offered for sale through DAPCB, 87 were partially paid for, 116 pending sale and 25 had their repossession certificates cancelled.

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