A report by parliament’s committee on commissions statutory Authorities and state Enterprises has again pinned senior presidential advisor on military Gen. Salim Saleh (President Museveni’s brother) over influence peddling .
This follows queries raised in the Auditor General’s report 2009- 2012 and a special investigation over the performance of a joint venture between a company owned by the General and His wife and the Uganda Coffee Development Authority.
Committee chairperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda has told parliament that Saleh used his influence to have his company enter into a joint venture with UCDA to add value and market Uganda’s coffee to Denmark.
Ssemuju says the project that cost Shs.3bn never came to fruition, recommending that appropriate action be taken against Saleh.
General Salim Saleh is also among the several government officials and ministers accused of influence peddling in a market deal by the Public Accounts Committee.The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises accuses Gen Saleh of introducing Uganda Coffee House, APS, Denmark- a firm he and his wife Jovia Saleh had interests in , to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority ostensibly to help the agency market Uganda’s coffee in the Scandinavian countries.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority subsequently signed a joint venture with Uganda Coffee House, APS, Denmark to market Uganda’s coffee in 2003, with Gen Saleh signing off as the Chairman Board and a one Kwame Ruyondo as the Director and [Secretary].
Uganda Coffee House is signed off as a subsidiary of House of Coffee Ltd, a consortium owned by several Ugandans, with M/S Akiba,a firm that owned 70% of the shares in the coffee conglomerate, controlled by Gen Saleh and his wife.
By the time the venture collapsed in 2005,the government had injected over Shs3.2b in the deal- with shs2.5b released in 2003 after Gen Saleh had filed a request to the then Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi.
In a August 2002 meeting, M/S Akiba, Gen Saleh’s firm, tabled another request of $ 15m (shs 28.5b) “to add value to the Ugandan coffee and promotion in Denmark”- a demand Mr Nsibambi directed Mr Mwesigwa Rukutuna-then then State Minister for (General duties) Finance- to follow-up.
Mr Rukutana, the incoming Deputy Attorney General ,then convened a meeting where Gen Saleh defended the$15 (Shs 28.5) request .The report does not indicate whether the money was provided but a later meeting agreed to “support companies involved in value addition”.
Both Gen Saleh and Mr Rukutana were unavailable for reply as the former did not pick repeated calls while the former’s known phone number was swithched off.Mr Henry Ngabirano,who signed the deals on behalf of UCDA did not pick calls for a response.
Subsequently, another joint venture was signed between UCDA and Uganda Coffee House APS giving the coffee agency 50% in a new company called M/S Uganda Coffee House APS. M/S Uganda Coffee House APS later changed name to M/S Mt.Egon Coffee Europe APS ultimately registering as M/S Mt.Elgon (U) Ltd.
With this litany of dealings, the Parliamentary Committee indicated that the President’s brother is guilty of influence peddling and recommends action against him while warning President Museveni to desist from “micro-managing projects from State House”.The report is scheduled for debate next week.
Former Solicitor General Lucien Tibaruha is faulted for advising that it is possible for government to co-invest in private companies despite objections that had been raise by the Ministry of Finance officials.
The Registration of Service Bureau, however, indicated that it has no knowledge of such a firm.
In a 18th December 2003 letter to the President, Mr Ruktuna gave an affirmative assessment of the deals.
Story by Benjamin Jumbe