Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine has described as hot air demands that he vacates Nommo Gallery, which he has been occupying since 1998 without any pay to government.
Addressing journalists at media center- Kampala, Tumwine said he does not owe government any money, adding that he was occupying Nommo Gallery like any other artist.
Gen. Tumwine’s comments come after the directive by speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga that he vacates Nommo gallery for failure to pay rent arrears to a tune of shs1.6 billion for the 20 years he has occupied that public facility.
Tumwine said he has been using the facility as any artists, but not as his company and that Nommo gallery has an independent director who is taking care of it.
“When artists ran away during the time of political turmoil, the minister of culture sent there an overseer who was paid little money but was surviving on earth. When I was chairman of board of trustees, we put there a director he is the one who manages all the affairs of the Nommo gallery not my company, not gen Tumwine,” Tumwine said.
He added: “Therefore there has never been an issue of rent anywhere. I was not occupying any government facility anywhere, all that is hot air.”
Tumwine also said that Parliament has no authority to collect rent but instead it should go to court to challenge his occupancy where he is very sure he will win the case.
“Rent is not collected by parliament. If you default on rent, somebody is free to take me to court. I have been waiting for that court case so that they give me some money against the truth,” he said.
Kadaga last week directed Creations Limited pays rent arrears amounting to over Shs1.6bn before the end of 2018 in addition to vacating the premises or pays rent arrears after a parliamentary committee report indicated that a private company- Creations Limited owned by Tumwine has been occupying Nommo Gallery since 1998 but has never paid rent.
“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,” Gender committee chairperson Alex Ndeezi (PWDs MP) said as he read the report.
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.”
Kadaga had also ordered that the Gender ministry budget should not be approved unless it accounts for the money which parliament has been appropriating to the ministry for maintenance of Nommo Gallery.