Parliament on Tuesday ordered Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine to vacate Nommo Gallery, which he has been occupying since 1998 without any pay to government.
Nommo Gallery that is located near state house, Nakasero is a public facility established in 1964 under the 1959 Act of Parliament. It is a component of the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC), which features exhibitions of works of art by both Ugandan and foreign artists.
Presenting the gender committee report for the approval on Gender Ministerial Policy Statement for financial year 2018/19, Committee chairperson Alex Ndeezi said a private company- Creations Limited owned by Tumwine has been occupying Nommo Gallery since 1998 but has never paid rent to the UNCC.
The Committee therefore recommended that Creations Limited pays rent arrears amounting to over Shs1.6bn before the end of 2018 in addition to vacating the premises.
“Every financial year, funds are allocated for the maintenance of the gallery centre and even for the FY 2018/19; Shs44.6m has been set aside for the same purpose,” Ndeezi said.
Ndeezi added: “the annual Shs 44.6m should be re-allocated to National Council for Disabilities to procure office furniture and equipment and no funds should be appropriated to Nommo Gallery until all rent arrears have been recovered.”
Debating the report, Aruu constituency MP Odonga Otto wondered why former bush war participants forcefully take over public properties.
“We seek guidance on that matter: what can we do about these seemingly absurd Ugandans who carried guns to the bush to take over government and now they are untouchable even by the committee of parliament?” Otto said.
In response, Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga ordered that the general vacates and pays the rent arrears to a tune of Shs1.6b for the 20 years he has occupied that public facility.
“It’s a serious indictment of this House that we have been budgeting for Nommo Gallery when it has been appropriated by one individual. If we don’t stop this impunity, one day, someone will come and take over Parliament,” Kadaga said.
“This House is directing Hon Tumwine to pay the rent because Nommo Gallery is a public facility,” Kadaga added.
Kadaga also ordered that the Gender ministry budget shall not be approved unless it accounts for the money which parliament has been appropriating to the ministry for maintenance of Nommo Gallery.