A post on a friend’s Facebook page had me thinking about development on the African continent vis a vis elsewhere in the world. The night time satellite image above says more than a thousand words ever could. May we progress further this new year.
Posts Tagged ‘business’
In 2004 a young Turk of a trader called Hassan Basajjabala woke the country to the reality of politics and commerce being an unholy, perhaps an unhealthy, alliance. Especially in a pseudo democracy like Uganda.
He had already caused waves as the ‘kikubo’ trader who had conquered the hides and skins trade with huge successes exporting to Europe and the Middle East. Nobody really knew who he was and that only enamoured his reputation. After all we all love an underdog who takes on the well established ‘Big’ boys.
Then came 2004and the mercurial entrepreneur ran into a bad patch and his business took a big hit, big enough to threaten him with bankruptcy. In stepped his excellency the president, Museveni, who then directed the bank of Uganda (the counttry’s central bank) to loan basajjabalaba $11 million . The fact that giving loans is not within the central bank’s mandate seemed to have escaped the head of state.
Under pressure the Bank of Uganda got the Uganda Development bank to loan him the money, while holding valuable land titles as security. Or so they thought, because last year it emerged that basajjabala had reported the same land titles lost and had the Registrar of Titles issue him replacements. He promptly resold the properties and to date has not made any payments on the original loan.
What amazes me is that the man has been caught red handed committing fraud, he has never made payments on his loan and has ignored court orders to do so. And yet under ‘normal circumstances he would be in a jail cell cooling his heels, while his property is seized and sold to placate his creditors.
But is basajjabala really a ‘normal’ man? He owns a private university (Kampala International University) that received millions of dollars in a grant from the government, not withstanding the fact that public institutions are crying out for funding.
He was embroiled with Chief khadi Mubajje in a plot to defraud the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council of property. The fury that unleashed from the muslim community was a hurdle he caould not overcome and the chief Khadi lost his position as well.
Basajjabalaba then got himself allocated the iconic Nakasero market, right in downtown kampala. The incensed market traders were having none of it and rioted. They rightly argued that the city council should have offered the management contract to them first. Last week it emerged that the government has been quietly paying him off for loss of ‘income’ or something like that……….it hilarious if not downright shocking.
Now for those not in the know, Basajjabalaba is also head of the ‘Entrepreneurs league’ of the ruling national Resistance Movement. I guess some ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ are in order, particularly from people in Kenya who have seen such a level of lawless impunity in the recent past.
Well things hit a new low at the recently concluded NRM primary elections, last week, for party officials and candidates in the forthcoming general election. He was re-elected the head of the league and promptly stood up and dished out wads of cash to the dele-gates in the meeting hall. Coupled with all the stories of voter intimidation and bribery the NRM’s conduct of its own private elections leaves Ugandans in wonder as to what will happen when this lot actually comes face to face with the political opposition during the general elections.
For now the police have called Mr. Basajjabalaba to record a statement about accusations of voter bribery during the primaries. But as is the custom the police were still waiting to receive him at the central police station and chances are he will never bother to turn up.
I cannot but wonder if this man actually owns his money and all those businesses or is he fronting for some one big, I mean really really big. It would make sense that that is actually what he is doing, how else does he get away with everything short of murder. And why does the president step in everytime to save his businesses from bankruptcy, unless of course…………