For more than a generation, I have lived in my own house situated on the land of Ssaabasajja Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the Kabaka of Buganda.
I pay ground rent to the Buganda Land Board. This state of affairs has existed and continues to be so throughout the tenancy, which has still more than forty years to renewal time.
I am in credit with my ground rent to Buganda Land Board and happy with the manner and style with which the board manages the Kabaka’s land and me. However, on April 10, 2017, officials from the office of the director for revenue collection, Kampala Capital City Authority, commenced dirty tricks of blackmailing me.
They started by writing to me claiming that I have not paid rates since July 1, 2005 and arrears have accumulated to Shs 24.4m. On the fateful day, the conspiracy to obtain money from me under false pretense was masterminded by Henry Bukenya and Joel Okot.
I learnt later that Mr Okot had personally brought the letter to my residence and demanded my police guard to open my gate for him, as he wished to discuss with me a very serious matter. My guard asked him, as is customary with VIP unit guards, what he wanted to see me about?
Okot said he wanted to help me with my problem. The guard told him that I was not in the residence and I had gone for a meeting in the city, which was true. I returned home at around 8:30pm and saw the letter, but did not open it until 8am during my breakfast.
Curiously, Mr Okot had amended the letter in ink and inserted extra telephone numbers, on which I could contact him urgently, to my benefit.
In retrospect, and because of what happened later, he had intended to make an offer to me that if I paid him part of the money owed for his benefit, he would propose that I pay only part and clear the whole debt.
He is lucky that it did not reach that far because I would have had him arrested for attempted bribery, even if, in reality, I had owed the debt claimed by KCCA. Bukenya’s letter had informed me that I had five days in which to respond and, in any event, if I had any queries about the indebtedness, I should contact Mr Okot.
It was, therefore, with amazement that before 8:30am, on the following morning, April 11, 2017, and before breakfast, I was rudely awakened from slumberland by a loud telephone call whose owner identified himself as Henry Bukenya.
He said: “Are you Prof Kanyeihamba, the retired judge?” I answered in the affirmative. Then he said: “I hope you received our letter yesterday. This is to remind you that payment of the arrears is long overdue and you must have them settled immediately. We sent Mr Okot to assist you”.
I pointed out to Mr Bukenya that if indeed he was the author of the letter, had he forgotten that I have five days in which to respond and, secondly, that he had advised me that if I had any questions about the demand for payment, I should consult Mr Okot of the same department?
He said: “Do not be legalistic. This is an important matter which affects the finances of KCCA and your failure to pay immediately will force the authority to take drastic measures against you.” I then responded: “But I am under Buganda Land Board for these payments and they have never had problems with me.” When I insisted that I was not liable, he said: “We shall see,” and hung up.
Later, I telephoned Mr Okot and informed him that I was owner/occupier and KCCA should not assess my house and charge me as if it were a commercial building. He begged to come and meet me in person and give further particulars. I declined. Thereafter, I called my lawyers to investigate whether I was liable as owner/occupier.
My lawyers confirmed that an owner/occupier of residential premises is not liable to pay commercial ground rent. Satisfied, I called Mr Bukenya, but received no answer. I then telephoned Mr Okot and, you have guessed right, he did not respond either.
By April 15, 2017 (when this article was written) I had not heard from anyone from KCCA. The Kampala city lord mayor, the minister responsible for KCCA, and the executive director of the same know my views on diverse subjects. I request each of them to comment on this attempted blackmail committed against me by officials from their watch.
The author is a former judge of the Supreme court.