The Uganda House Building in Kampala mortgaged for Shs25b in planned renovation
Uganda House, the home of Uganda Peoples Congress, has been mortgaged with a view to develop other properties managed by the Milton Obote Foundation (MOF).
Although business-wise this could be a prudent decision, some party members fear that the intended purpose of the mortgage may not be achieved, thereby exposing the four-decade old building into unnecessary ownership disputes.
Because of such fears, a former member of the MOF board, Mr Chirs Opoka, said he opposed the lifting of the caveat that gave the leeway to MOF directors to mortgage the UPC headquarters without full participation of party members.
“I opposed the lifting of the caveat because the terms were unfair,” he said. Mr Opoka, also a former UPC deputy secretary-general, said the lifting of the caveat means the properties under MOF—among them Uganda House, a building on 5th Street Industrial Area, a plot of land in Buziga (a Kampala suburb), Lugogo Ranch in Nakasongola, six plots of land in Kyambogo, a building in Mbale and a warehouse on 7th Street Industrial Area can be sold or mortgaged depending on the priority of the directors.
Mr Opoka said this would be contrary to the intention of the MOF founders. Speaking to Sunday Monitor, Mr Celestine Darasson Mindra, the MOF company secretary, which oversees Uganda House Investment Limited (UHIL), said MOF leadership in an annual general meeting resolved to develop Plot 8, Kampala Road, as well as redevelop Uganda House to utilise the unused space.
This, he said, was informed by the need to reap more money from the foundation properties than what it is currently bringing in. “It is true we have secured a loan from one of the banks and this loan amounts to $10 million (Shs25 billion) and the collateral security is the project and the land title,” said Mr Mindra,
Tenants asked to vacate
The MOF secretary said the foundation has already issued a notice to sitting tenants to vacate the building by April so that the redevelopment commences. He said they plan to remodel the building by constructing a modern mall and entertainment centre in the current podium and open space at Nkrumah and Kampala road levels for high-market-end customers and to maintain the premises as a business centre.
“The project is restricted to the said plots at Shs25 billion within 18 months but business in some areas will commence by 2013,” he said. Uganda House was constructed in early 1970s, while MOF was formed in 1964 by former President Apollo Milton Obote and 41 distinguished politicians, professionals and businessmen.
MOF was incorporated on May 8, 1964, as a company limited by guarantee without shares and it is owned by subscribed members, who join by invitation and pay membership fee.
Though, it is delinked from Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), the party and MOF have a symbiotic relationship dating back to the days of its formation when most members of MOF were UPC members. This relationship explains why MOF update is the biggest funders of UPC.
The Monitor Newspaper