KAMPALA – NRM Deputy Chief Whip Solomon Silwany has said it is the party national chairman Yoweri Museveni who can discipline the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, who is accused of grabbing land on which Njeru government Stock Farm sits in Buikwe District.
Appearing on NBS TV on Thursday, November 07, 2019, Mr Silwany also condemned what he described as impunity by ruling party officials who think they are untouchable because they fought in the Bush War that brought President Museveni to power.
“It’s not me to call him [Otafiire] to order. It’s the national chairman to call him to order,” said Mr Silwany when asked why he should not invoke his powers as NRM Deputy Chief Whip.
“This sense of entitlement is wrong. What we have to fight as Ugandans is corruption. You can’t say you take property because you went to the bush. If it’s true that Gen Otafiire grabbed the Njeru Stick Farmland, it’s very unfortunate,” he added.
This came after FDC Secretary-General Nandala Mafabi insisted that Gen Otafiire should be held culpable for grabbing the land.
“I am repeating, Kahinda Otafiire and Former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma grabbed land,” Mr Mafabi said.
“When you have an office and you do contrary things, that’s an abuse of office which is corruption. Otafiire and Kavuuma grabbed land. If someone can grab public land in the open, what about money? This is what is happening in the country,” he added.
Last Wednesday, Gen Otafiire shocked members of Parliament when he revealed that he is taking the government to court for grabbing his land on which Njeru Stock Farm sits.
The land in question is under the management of the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Databank, which is tasked with scientific animal breeding.
Gen Otafiire is accused of grabbing the land using cronies such as one Muhangi but government has since reclaimed it.
During plenary, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga asked the minister to explain circumstances under which he came to take possession of the land.
“We shall want to know the relationship between Muhangi and Otafiire now he has taken over a government firm. I direct the Minister of Internal Affairs to investigate this issue, who is Muhangi, how did he take over government lands?”
Gen Otafiire confirmed his interest in the contested land and told Parliament that he had instructed his lawyers to take government to court for taking over his land.
In response, Ms Kadaga called out what she called impunity in government and asked him to table documents showing how he came to own government land.
However, the minister insisted that he was exonerated by the Inspector General of Government, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Land Commission and that the matter is in court and he wasn’t at liberty to discuss the matter at Parliament.
In response, Mr Mafabi wondered how Otafiire could drag the same government he serves to court.
“He wants to throw government off his land and the government he is throwing off he is serving as a Minister. This is arrogance that the whole minister supposed to protect public property is now taking over public property. Wouldn’t it be procedurally right?” he said.
Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye said Otafiire has for long been cited in cases of land grabbing and is now using his office in Justice to formalize his deals from Ministry of Lands.