KAMPALA – The longstanding political rivalry between James Musinguzi Garuga and Dr Chris Baryomunsi was resurrected on Wednesday after the Kigezi-based businessman took a swipe at the state minister for Housing, whom he accused of frustrating development in Kanungu District by politicising several projects.
Speaking at the launch of the renovation of Rugyeyo community hospital in Kanungu District on Wednesday, Garuga said while he has prioritized supporting public projects, some leaders have thought of pulling down the projects, thinking they are his and that he wants to grab land where the projects are located.
“I believe in supporting public projects; why should I construct a private thing yet I know there is another person like church who is in the service and can run it better? Last week, they closed St James primary school, they closed it because it was for Garuga. The Sister who runs it travelled overnight to the ministry of Education. When she reached they asked her why she was appearing yet the school they closed was for Garuga? This is a church project. But still, if it is Garuga School, why close it?” he said.
The businessman has for the last four years been at odds with Dr Baryomunsi over the management of tea growers in Kigezi sub-region. The minister in September 2016 filed a complaint to the Inspector General of Government, requesting for an investigation into allegations that Garuga fleeced members of KTNBOA of their Shs1.3b in disguised corporate social responsibility. However, on 9th January 2017, the Inspectorate of Government dismissed the claim by Minister Baryomunsi and a section of tea growers in Kanungu district that they were fleeced by Musinguzi. In turn, Garuga, see who is also the patron of Kinkizi Tea Nursery Bed Operators Association (KTNBOA), sued Minister Baryomunsi for defamation and attempts to reconcile the two have since hit a dead end.
On Wednesday, Garuga said while he helped the farmers and local community to improve the facility which he still supports with Shs22 million every month, some politicians have been saying he wants to steal the land where the center is located.
“I have no share in this hospital, this is a community and government project, I am not on the board either. I cannot steal land in Kanungu because there is no one here who owns more land than me in this district. I am the among the biggest landowners in this country, even when I can steal land it won’t be at home,” He said
He cautioned leaders against bickering over projects because they can’t participate in their making asking them to focus on what can help their people.
While he did not mention names, many of his projects including establishment of two tea factories in the district, aiding churches and health services have met serious opposition from the state minister for housing Dr Chris Baryomunsi who is the Kinkizi East Member of parliament.
Some of the projects that have caused controversy over Garuga, nursery tea operators and the district signing memoranda include the Rugyeyo hospital, the Katete government stock farm, St. James primary school among others.