President Yoweri Museveni has warned against grabbing Indians’ property managed under the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) saying fraudsters will face serious consequences.
“All those parasites.. why are they fighting for Indian properties? Why are they not developing their own property? When returning Indian properties, we had a big debate in parliament. These are 4000 properties, there are over one million new properties owned by Ugandans, why fight over Indian property?” he asked.
Museveni was on Saturday meeting Uganda-Indian diaspora and investors led by Ambassador Dr. Mumtaz Kassam, at State House Entebbe.
The investors who are also landlords and property owners including Liaquat K. Valiji, Mustafa T. Bharmal, Zahid A. Bharmal, and Nafisa F. Bharmal- from the United Kingdom, Canada, and India are seeking to repossess their properties lost after their families were expelled from Uganda by former President Idi Amin’s regime in 1972.
The Asians, after their expulsion left behind the property, which included businesses, stock, and real estate.
“The story is simple! These were either Ugandans or non-Ugandans but Asians living in Uganda and owning property. They were expelled and properties were taken by Idi Amin. We said all those get back their property. Citizenship doesn’t change anything, it is the ownership that matters,” he said.
The President said that in order not to make it an endless program, they put a time limit for them to claim their property. None citizens were given up to June 1993 while citizens had no time limit.
“Our Movement Government has no interest in giving to anybody property that was owned by our Indian people. You must have heard that I have been re-elected President. We are going to resolve this issue,” he said.
Museveni directed for written reports by the diaspora regarding all their property to be presented to his office.
The Indians are seeking to repossess various properties scattered around the country including tea estates, land, and buildings but claim the Departed Asians Property Board and COSASE have made it impossible for them to progress.
Last year in May, the 10th Parliament investigated the management of the custodian board and queried some of the Indians who had repossessed properties.
In a report presented by the Subcommittee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), it was discovered that there were irregularities in management, compensation, and repossession of properties owned by the departed Asians.
The committee said a number of agents who repossessed property on behalf of their principals, transferred them without the required registrable instrument which by law is the certificate of repossession that confers powers to transfer to former owners.
According to the custodian board, between 7000 and 10000 properties were abandoned by the expelled Asians but many have since been grabbed by individuals including government officials.
The committee argued that the Government, through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, British High Commission and the Indian Government, compensated some Indians.
The committee said the DAPCB, which was charged by law to manage the property, did not hold a single board meeting for 15 years, giving individuals legroom to fraudulently grab property that belonged to Asians.