Amelia Kyambadde skips South Sudan compensation probe committee

Trade, Industry and Co-operatives Minister, Amelia Kyambadde was a no show before a Parliamentary select committee probing the delayed compensation of some 23 companies that supplied commodities to organisations, individuals or agencies of the government of South Sudan before it plunged into civil unrest in 2013.

Kyambadde was expected to appear before the Kyankwanzi Woman MP Ann Maria Nankabirwa-led committee on Friday morning, but the committee members waited in for several hours in vain until when information came in that she hadn’t received the invitation.

This forced Nankabirwa to summon Kyambadde afresh, and she is now expected to appear on Tuesday next week to respond to issues relating to compensation of traders that supplied goods and services to South Sudan between 2008 and 2013.

Members of the select committee in session on Friday

The governments of South Sudan and Uganda entered into a mutual agreement which could see Uganda clear the debt and treat it as a loan to the government of South Sudan. The money will be paid back within five to 10 years with a six per cent interest rate after the first year.

The lone witness who appeared before the committee was Sunday Bongomin, a resident of Lamwo in Northern Uganda who is demanding compensation of up to $180,000 (Shs 648 million) for his land and buildings that were allegedly seized by soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) when war broke out.

“As of now, I can’t access my property, it is occupied by soldiers of the SPLA. I haven’t gone back to South Sudan,” Bongomin said.

Bongomin’s complaint appeared unique to the committee since his complaint is of an individual who between 2007 and 2015 bought eight pieces of land in Juba and developed four of them with rental houses but only to lose them when the war escalated and returned to Uganda.

He had acquired a mortgage $250,000 (Shs 900 million) from KCB Bank to develop the land. Since his lost the documentation of his earnings from the buildings when the SPLA soldiers chased them away, he couldn’t tell the committee how much income he had lost over the years.

Asked whether he is open to going back to South Sudan if the soldiers vacate his property, and the government of South Sudan agrees to pay the accrued rental arrears, Bongomin told the MPs he is no longer interested in doing business in the volatile country.

“I put that (the government of South Sudan paying the rental arrears) into perspective but I couldn’t prove since the recipts were burnt when the SPLA chased us out, but I also, I want to completely move out because the place is too hostile,” Bongomin said.

He said that he had on several occasions tried to follow up the matter with the Embassy of South Sudan Embassy in Uganda but the efforts have been in vain.