KAMPALA – The fight over possession and occupation of more than 16,000 acres of land that accommodate Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district continues to draw in big names with the latest being businessman Bob Kabonero, the proprietor of Kampala Casino.
Retired flight Captain, Joseph Charles Roy Ziwa, who owns Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch, is involved in a row with Angella Genade, the Executive Director of Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU), with Capt Roy apparently accusing Ms Genade of attempting to grab the land on which he had allowed the RFU to set up a rhino sanctuary in 2002.
On the other hand, Ms Genade accuses Capt. Roy of wanting to evict her from the ranch without following proper procedure.
The fight has gone as high up as to President Museveni who, having listened to the two parties, advised that they settle the matter amicably.
A source who spoke to us on condition of anonymity to avoid a backlash has mentioned that the President seemed to have realized that both parties have a valid claim on the land and therefore both should reach an agreeable compromise.
President Museveni then asked his legal advisor Flora Kiconco to study documents and report back to him.
The latest is that Kabonero, who in his own admission to our reporter is friends with Capt Roy, lent money to the flight captain many years ago.
Apparently, Capt Roy has not been in position to pay back the money and Kabonero has since taken interest in the land in Nakasongola, which he intends to take in lieu for the money he is owed, according to our source.
Our source adds that Mr. Kabonero has tried to influence Tourism Ministry Permanent Secretary Doreen Katusiime, who is his cousin and who attended the meeting between the President and the aggrieved parties, together with Tourism Minister Ephraim Kamuntu and Uganda Tourism Board officials. It is understood that the President directed Ms Katusiime to mediate the matter.
When we spoke to Mr Kabonero, he denied lending Capt Roy any money.
“Capt Roy does not owe me a penny. We are friends and have been so for years, we were even business partners until he pulled out,” Mr Kabonero told this website.
He denied any involvement in matters relating to the saga and said he had advised his friend against bringing Genade to his land. “Capt Roy has always brought strange people into his businesses. For example this woman was a bar attendant and he brought her to the sanctuary as an employee but because he was away for some years, she has now turned against him and is trying to take his land,” he said, adding that had he used his influence to help his friend, Genade would not be on the land.
Our calls to Ms Katusiime’s known phone number went unanswered.
Media was earlier this week awash with claims that the saga has dragged in the Principal Private Secretary to the President, Ms Molly Kamukama and her husband Chris Kamukama, as well as Nakasongola Resident District Commissioner Dan Muganga.
It was reported that the couple is frustrating President Museveni’s directive that the matter is settled amicably.
However, in a WhatsApp chat with our reporter, Ms Kamukama vehemently denied claims that she was influencing the President’s legal advisor to swing the case in Ms Genade’s way.
“First of all, I am just an appointee to this office just as is Ms Kiconco. The claim that I am influencing her to do her job in undermining her office which is a substantial position in State House,” Ms Kamukama told this website, adding that she and her family have absolutely no interest in the land.
“The President advised that the two parties settle this matter amicably, therefore how do I come in to push for one party. It does not even make sense,” she said. She added that the matter between Capt Roy and Ms Genade should be left for the two to iron out.
“There are people who are using the media, especially websites with no credibility to blackmail government officials. But this will not work. This particular matter is a legal matter, stating that any government official can be used by either party to break the law is ridiculous,” Ms Kamukama said.
We were unable to speak to Capt Roy since he is reported out of the country and attempts to speak to Mr Muganga, the RDC Nakasongola were futile.
It remains unclear why Capt Roy has avoided taking the matter to court and has instead run to the President.
The information available to us states that in 2002, the Rhino Fund Uganda persuaded Capt Roy to turn his land into a sanctuary and he subsequently became a board member of the RFU. In 2010, Capt Roy granted a 25-year concession agreement to Genade, Angella’s husband who since passed on.
The agreement allowed Genade to set up a lodge on the ranch and pay 10% of the gross income from the lodge and restaurant to Capt Roy.
Capt Roy, however, stated in his complaint to the President that Genade has never paid any money since inception, thus forcing him and his family to terminate the agreement.
It is reported that Genade put a caveat on the 16,000 acres, demanding arbitration as per the agreement. She reportedly denied Capt Roy and the family access to the ranch. He also claims that she is influencing Nakasongola police bosses to swing in her favour.