Officials at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) are investigating circumstances under which 103 property owners in the city converted ownership of plots from leasehold to freehold, a move that has caused the authority a financial loss in billions of shillings.
The prominent people on the list include; Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi and city lawyer Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi of MMAKS Advocates, Gaster Lule Ntake, Mansoor Yanga, Tom Mugenga, John Bosco Muwonge and Yonasani Kanyomozi,a former minister.
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According to a report from KCCA’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the authority has failed to recover ground rent arrears since 2011 due to land ownership conversions from leasehold to freehold. By 2011, the arrears stood at Shs187.2 million while today, they stand at over Shs1.18 billion.
KCCA’s directorate of revenue brought the matter to the attention of the KCCA PAC in a memorandum dated July 26, 2019 where it revealed that owners of 103 properties had not remitted their ground rent claiming that the authority was no longer their landlord.
The committee, in their report to the council, argued that the conversion was done fraudulently with some members of the Kampala District Land Board (KDLB) which is chaired by lawyer Yusuf Nsibambi of Nsibambi & Nsibambi Advocates.
The committee also observed that most of the properties were converted from leasehold to freehold without conversion minutes from KDLB.
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago during a council meeting on July 7, said the directorate of revenue was encountering challenges of collecting ground rent from property owners who claim that their properties were converted from leasehold to freehold.
“It was discovered that the properties were converted after KDLB halted issuing of minutes converting leasehold to freehold effective April, 1, 2015 and other conversions were purported to have been effected after the stated period,” said Lukwago.
He said ground rent was a major source of the authority’s revenue and continued conversions greatly undermine this revenue source.
Yanga, one of the accused property owners was quoted as admitting to have converted his property from leasehold to freehold though he added he did it legally.