Gov’t to take possession of demolished Ben Kiwanuka property

Government is considering taking over the estate of Uganda’s first Prime Minister Benedict Kiwanuka at Nalukolongo in Kampala’s Lubaga division.

On Tuesday, ministers Gen Abubakar Jeje Odong (Internal Affairs) and Godfrey Kiwanda (State for Tourism) visited the site to assess what remains of what used to be the residence of Ben Kiwanuka.

The estate was razed on June 3 as a money lender only identified as Mugabo took possession from Kiwanuka’s heir, former minister and former Uganda’s diplomat to Nigeria and Sweden Maurice Peter Kagimu Kiwanuka.

Kagimu lost the property to the money lender after failing to pay a loan that has accumulated to over Shs 700m.

During Monday’s cabinet meeting, the matter came up for discussion forcing the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to assign Odong and Kiwanda to study the matter.

“The name Ben Kiwanuka is historic, government cannot therefore simply watch… this is a historic site where people who fought for our independence lived,” Odong said.

Tuesday’s heavy afternoon downpour did not allow them walk around the open space which until Sunday hosted the family house one of Uganda’s pre-independence political leaders.

He is the founding president of the Democratic Party (DP) with which he campaigned to become Prime Minister in 1961 but lost the position during the 1962 independence elections after the pro-Buganda party, Kabaka Yekka (KY) enter into an alliance with Apollo Milton Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) to form government.

“Being our first Prime Minister, Ben Kiwanuka is therefore associated with our independence and democratic struggle,” Odong said.

He said, government had ignored the matter which had been considered a private family matter which could be solved within the family.

“But now, government is concerned about what is happening here and will take a decision immediately we report back to the prime minister,” Odong said.

Kiwanda said, government is considering rescuing for the state and turn it a tourist attraction.

“We are going to talk to the family and the buyer so that we (government) can take its possession, remodel it and turn it into a Ben Kiwanuka museum,” Kiwanda said.

He said, the museum once approved will have a collection of Kiwanuka’s speeches, photos and writings.