After about a fortnight of media blitz on the famous or is it infamous NSSF scandal, I have decided to add my voice. It may not be to alter policy or create a head to roll at the mighty NSSF House, but well, let it not be said that I kept silent when everyone tried to salvage the pennies left in the coffers after the ‘revolutionaries’ had had their share.
Look, a public institution buys land in the excess of 400 acres, does not advertise in the media that it is in search of this land, buys it from a senior minister, who also does not advertise anywhere that he has that land; and his backers want us to believe that this is a deal cleaner than Desdemona’s purity.
Never mind also that this institution being public should subscribe to basic rules of procurement, which it did not. I have heard NSSF apologists like Andrew Mwenda and Simon Kasyate argue that the project of building cheap housing facilities for workers is noble and other than kill the entire project, let’s sort out the players but let the project proceed.
I find this fallacious but I will come to it later. Now, let’s begin with Minister Mbabazi. Obviously he has a right to sell his land at the highest price possible as an individual, but surely, when the buyer is a public institution and the price under contest, we surely can’t just look the other side and quote forces of demand and supply at play. We are right in thinking the deal could have been cut backdoor.
And as for NSSF, I sympathise with the guys there. Look at the MD, he might have all the Accounting diplomas and degrees one can have but poor Chandi is just 36 years. This is a boy. He might have been a senior partner at Price Waterhouse but for crying out loud, he is a boy—yet to cut his teeth.
Ok, picture Chandi sitting in his chair in his office, then guess who walks in? Minister Amama Mbabazi. Chandi springs from his chair, offers his hand, which Mbabazi shakes patronizingly. The minister then breaks the ice—tells the young man about the Temangalo land and how NSSF can carry out a profitable venture there.
All the young man has to do is call a board meeting and market the deal. Of course the above scenario is a creation of mind, but look, you can’t downplay the influence of politics here.
In 2001, Tezira Jamwa, mother to Chandi Jamwa lost her Tororo Parliamentary Seat which she had occupied since the CA days. The victor against her was Dorothy Hyuha, currently Minister without Portfolio. With her political future dwindling, the NRM resuscitated it by making her RDC. Look, why won’t a son of this lady, whose basic political survival has depended on the system, feel compelled to reward the godfathers?
Ok, back to those who think the bathwater should not be spilled with the baby. People like Mwenda think that the project, albeit dogged by procedural problems, should go ahead, considering how badly workers need houses. It is for this reason that he has used unflattering terms to describe the IGG, who has come out to block the venture.
In the late 1990s, the National Housing and Construction Company constructed low-cost houses in Mpumudde Estates in Jinja. But besides it, was another cheaper estate of middle-class citizens. These citizens saw in this new estate the opportunity to upgrade their status. They formed an association and began lobbying the Corporation over rates of purchase.
As the negotiations hit high gear, a certain senior lady politician from Busoga stormed the scene. She went on and offered a higher price for the estates, locking out the mass of workers. She then went on to even ask for much higher rates than what the Housing Corporation was asking for.
That is the kind of lie NSSF apologists want us to swallow. A housing estate will be built and do not get surprised to see Mbabazi buying it off, only to become an even tenacious landlord.
Workers, let’s not land for the bait. If NSSF feels like building us houses from our deposits, let us enter an agreement with them. Let us negotiate before the project is undertaken using the strength of our deposits. Let us own the houses before they are built. Short of that, the circles will continue. The wolves shall continue devouring us, and like Boxer in Animal Farm, we shall work harder!!!
Remember, in opposing this daylight robbery, we stand to lose nothing but our chains!!