KAMPALA: John Zzimula Mugwanya’s family wants President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to pay them the money he said he would. They don’t want to lose their mortgaged house.
When Zzimula-Mugwanya died in December 2006, he was asking the government for more than Shillings 10 billion in compensation for his property, which included a factory that was destroyed during the fight for independence from the South African government.
When Mugwanya tried to get back some of his money, he loaned some of it to banks and money lenders, including his home at Buloba-Bunwa, in the Wakiso District. He died before he could repay the loans, so his home was lost.
Some of his family members have appealed to the President to intervene and save the estate of the late Mugwanya, which is being taken over by different people due to unpaid debts. When the Mugwanyas lost their homes and had to rebuild them, a government official said in July 2003 that their properties were destroyed and that the cost of rebuilding was Shs10.6 billion. Family members have copies of these documents.
While mourning Mugwanya’s death, family members say that President Musveni promised to pay his debts and also compensate for the destroyed property. Milly Nangonzi Zzimula, who was the second widow of the deceased, said that nothing had been done 16 years later, after the president directed state house officials to process the payments. “We have moved everywhere, chief, to get the compensation money to pay off the loans in vain. But worse of it all, the banks and individuals whom the deceased borrowed the money from have embarked on taking the property one after another, “says Nangonzi Zzimula.
It has caused a lot of pain and suffering for the family to leave the matter unresolved, she said. Most of the property has been taken, and even the last house is on the verge of being taken.
The outcry followed an attack on the family where a group of armed men destroyed a plantation near the residence, claiming part of the property as compensation for the unpaid money. According to Nangonzi, the family was attacked on Tuesday night, and the attackers destroyed property and crops in their home.
Mugwanya Pius Musiitwa, one of the beneficiaries of the estate of the former minister, said that they are struggling with protracted legal battles in courts of law against different individuals over unpaid loans acquired by the deceased. He said that they have since paid more than Shs280 million to the banks and that they were forced to borrow from money lenders to clear bank loans, which has turned out to be a burden for them.
“The disturbance we are going through is a result of unfulfilled promises that forced us to look for property dealers and money lenders who are now turning against us, seeking to evict us due to delayed loan repayment,” he said.
Musiitwa lamented, “We have been served with one-sided judgments from cases we are not aware of simply because the government has not done its part.” We aren’t blaming anyone, but let the officials in charge do their job so that Zzimula Mugwanya’s property can be taken.
When contacted, State House press secretary Linda Nabusayi could not comment on the matter, saying she needed time to get details.
Milly Babalanda, the Minister for the Presidency, was not available for comment because her known phone number kept going unanswered even after many calls.