By Max Patrick Ocaido
Security minister, Gen Elly Tumwine has been told to pay all his outstanding rent dues and vacate government-owned Nommo Gallery.
Nommo Gallery that was founded and established in 1964 by an 1959 Act of Parliament, is Uganda’s National Art Gallery and a component of the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) that features exhibitions of works of art by both Ugandan and foreign artists.
Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday directed that Gen Tumwine vacates the gallery after a Gender, Labour and Social Development committee report implicated the army general for occupying the government gallery to run his private company without paying rent that has accumulated to over Shs1.6bn since 1998.
“This House directs Gen Tumwine to pay the rent but also to vacate [Nommo Gallery] because it is a public facility. I don’t think we shall have to be associated with this type of impunity. If we don’t check this impunity, one day someone will come here, take over this Parliament,” Kadaga said.
The committee report on the ministerial policy statement for FY 2018/19 that was presented by committee chairperson Alex Ndeezi (PwDs) also implicated Gen Tumwine for benefiting his company from the national budget at the expense of the public gallery-Nommo.
“The Committee was informed that Creations Limited, a private company owned by Hon. Gen. Elly Tumwine has been occupying Nommo Gallery since 1998 and he has never paid rent to Uganda National Cultural Centre. Efforts to collect rent from Gen. Elly Turmwine have remained futile.
By 2017, rent arrears had accumulated to UGX 1,620,100,000 and the Auditor General has raised concerns over the same matter. Rt. Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members what is disheartening is that every financial year funds are allocated for the maintenance of these premises,” the report reads.
In its recommendations, the Committee directed Tumwine’s Creations Limited to immediately pay rent arrears amounting to Shs1.62bn before end of 2018 and also vacate Nommo Gallery and that Shs44.6m should be re-allocated to National Council for Disabilities to procure office furniture and equipment and no funds should be appropriated to Nommo Gallery for maintenance until all rent arrears have been recovered.
“I think it is a serious indictment of this House that we have been budgeting for Nommo gallery when it has been appropriated by an individual,” Kadaga said.