ABAANA & EBYAANA! Secrets on who qualifies & how to secure M7’s biz bailout cash revealed

BY PEPPER INTELLIGENCE UNIT

In April 2023, businessman James Tumusiime got what sources say was nearly shs 8bn by selling to the government of Uganda 49 percent shares in his Igongo cultural centre in Mbarara city.

The popular tourist destination, renown for its local cuisine and a museum showcasing Banyankore artifact and other items of culture had been struggling due to a debt reportedly incurred during its construction.

The bailout, sources say, was initiated mainly by the tycoon’s daughter and senior officials in the ministry of finance.

For the bazzukulu who may not know, Tumusiime is an historical member of the NRA/NRM and served on its external wing during exile.

After the NRA took power in 1986, Tumusiime became the first editor of the government newspaper, New Vision, before being replaced by William Pike.

Upon his replacement, Tumusiime became deputy editor in chief and went on to found other businesses such as Fountain Publishers which prints books and Igongo cultural centre plus large scale cattle ranching.

Before the Igongo bailout, the government had bailed out Geoffrey Rugazoora’s Mogas petroleum by taking over his 15 acres of land in Mukono.

In September 2022, Stanbic bank had seized assets of oil company Mogas over a huge debt. But President Museveni in a letter directed PM Nabbanja to rescue Mogas.

Many other struggling businessmen have got bailouts to pay bank loans or to recapitalize. Sudhir Ruparelia has got billions of shillings to invest in his hotels for example. Italian business lady Pinetti got billions to build a specialist hospital in Lubowa. Atiak Sugar factory of business lady Amina Hersi has also got big bucks from the government. Bassajjabalaba’s Hides and Skins business was also once a beneficiary of a government bailout.

Roko construction was also bailed out in 2022.

Last year, President Museveni directed Finance Minister Matia Kasaija to help Dei Pharmaceuticals boss, Mathias Magoola settle a loan of about shs 578bn.

Two weeks ago, the President asked that shs 600bn owed by AYA group to South Africans be taken over by the government while tycoon Patrick Bitature also got a bailout to save his hotels that were being threatened by moneylenders.

In the same breath, other businessmen have begged for bailouts but not been given. These include Sembule steel mills,   the Rubaga based pioneer maker of steel and electronic products, Biyinzika poultry breeders in Mukono, Bancafe, Good African coffee, Mukalazi, Zzimwe. The last two were trailblazers in road construction.

This state of affairs has set tongues wagging.  What are the criteria for bailing out companies and leaving out others­? Do we have Abaana and Ebyaana, some people rhetorically ask. But here is what it takes to get the bail out.

THE BOTTOM LINE

For the uninitiated, every bailout must be signed off by the man himself, the Ssabalwanyi.

But for him to appreciate your problem you must meet him physically and explain your case. Yet the most daunting task in Uganda is to try to meet the president.

It is simply not possible using the official channels. But there are a few people who can take you there.

“These people are so few you can count them on your finger tips and I bet they do not include the president’s Principal Private Secretary,” says a deep state source.

So these people exact a price to allow you access to the Ssabalwanyi. You heard during the state of the nation address the president saying people were paying huge sums of money in order to see him.

If these brokers don’t take money they ask for shares in the struggling company, a complete take over or a cut of the eventual bailout.

Some even ask for sexual favors.

A cute daughter of one of the businessmen recently bailed out had to give a senior government official a baby as part of oiling the machine.

So if you don’t know these influential people you will never get the bail out. And even if you know but have nothing to part with, still your company will collapse.

One other time tested way of meeting Ssabalwanyi is by ambushing him tactfully. This is possible if you are a relative and can afford to camp near where he goes like Kisozi or Rwakitura or at a public function when you are given an opportunity to speak.

You saw how an Anglican Bishop of Kitaffe mu Katonda Lubowa asked for a bailout of a car directly from Ssabalwanyi during Heroes Day celebrations in Mpenja Gomba last week.

You also saw an NRA veteran using the time given to him to narrate which gun he was using during the war to ask and gracefully obtain a bailout of a taxi.

Other bailout seekers ambush Ssabalwanyi at family functions or have an influential member of the family who drags them by the hand to the man himself. That’s how the Rugazooras perhaps come in here.

For people like AYA, there has always been an intriguing relationship between him and elements in government.

When he was first given that prime government land near state house Nakasero, it caused a hullabaloo.

Partly because Uganda Television, which was housed on that land, had to be shifted to give way for AYA to build a hotel. When he had issues paying his workers, a minister of labour called Kabafunzaki tried to extort a few shillings to wet his beak and settle the AYA, employee grievances. The minister was lured into a trap at Paradiso Hotel in Muyenga, given 5M shillings, arrested as he received it and summarily fired from cabinet.

He went on to lose his parliamentary seat. Some sources in the corridors of power claim AYA could be a business partner with some powerful individuals who help him maneuver through and get access to the president.

Because the president is so keen to thrust Uganda into the middle income status he is willing to bail out every struggling but viable business or those with strategic importance like hotels which promote tourism. So once AYA can reach Museveni, a bailout is guaranteed.

Some of those brokers have their own businesses. For them to accept to lead you to the big man they must be sure your business will not compete with theirs.

We shall be naming some of the brokers in our next publication.


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