RHINO FUND UGANDA PUTS FACTS BEFORE ATCNEWS READERS TO JUDGE FOR THEMSELVES
(Posted 20th December 2019)
ATCNews has close links with the Rhino Fund Uganda since its inception.
Yours truly in fact was Chairman of the Rhino Fund Uganda between 2001 and 2007/8 and then stepped up again as Acting Chairman for nearly 4 years at a later stage, when the substantive Chair left the country and until during an EGM a new board and Chair was elected.
Having been witness to all these developments how the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary came into being, when the owners still showed conservation spirit and their actions were not guided by other factors, is it time to end 2019 by putting facts across to the general public and the readers of ATCNews.
The current Board of Directors has shared a statement with ATCNews which is published below in full, so that readers can make up their own mind over the facts as they stand undisputed and the peddled half and untruths otherwise circulating in media publications who have in the past written knowing only a part of the entire story.
“The Other Side”
a) On 20th August, 2002, Rhino Fund Uganda signed a license agreement with M/s Ziwa Ranchers Ltd, of land comprised in Leasehold and Mailo titles.
b) Under the said License agreement, Rhino Fund was to establish and manage a Rhino sanctuary on the above mentioned land for a period of thirty (30) years.
Ziwa Ranchers had the right to continue with its cattle farming on the said land.
Joe Roy moved his cattle to his other ranch (Kiryana) where he had a cattle farming business by choice. No license fee or payment to Ziwa Ranchers or Joe Roy is recorded in this license agreement. Joe Roy is to date running his business
(Ziwa Rhino Lodge) which comprises of guest houses, backpackers, camping and a restaurant on the sanctuary.
c) At the time of execution of the License agreement, Joe Roy and his wife, Mrs. Daisy Roy were the only shareholders/Directors in Ziwa Ranchers Ltd with 50% shareholding each.
d) On the basis of the License agreement, Rhino Fund Uganda invested heavily with donor funding in terms of infrastructure development including but not limited to purchasing and transporting of rhinos, electric fencing the entire land, dams, fences and outposts, setting up sanctuary buildings, maintenance of Roads and establishing a school within the sanctuary and serving the community and district with various social corporate responsibility projects.
e) Rhino Fund introduced six (6) Rhinos onto the sanctuary in line with the License agreement. Due to a good management model and record breeding, there are currently thirty (30) Rhinos on the sanctuary with one hundred and forty three (143) staff- with a record zero rhinos poached and what is referred to as one of the most successful rhino introduction projects which has won various National and International awards.
f) The Rhino Fund Uganda Executive Director Ms. Angie Genade, was appointed by the Rhino Fund Board and works under the direction of the Rhino Fund Board.
As the Executive Director she is the spokesperson for Rhino Fund Uganda and the secretary of the Board with no voting rights.
g) Sometime in 2009, the shareholders of Ziwa Ranchers Ltd (Capt. Joseph Charles Roy and Mrs. Daisy Roy) transferred all their stakes Ziwa Ranchers Ltd (the company) to Amiral Karmali and Rukhsana Karmali who later became shareholders and directors of the company.
h) On or about the 16th October, 2017 and with no basis at all, Rhino Fund Uganda was stunned to be served with what purported to be a termination notice from M/s Omongole & Co. Advocates, Counsel for Joe Roy allegedly terminating the 30 years License agreement between Rhino Fund and M/s Ziwa Ranchers Ltd.
i) On the basis of the purported termination notice, Joe Roy has continuously issued eviction threats to Rhino Fund Uganda. On 28th January, 2019, Joe Roy through his lawyers issued a notice to Rhino Fund to vacate certain facilities within the sanctuary.
j) The “Land Wrangle” being referred to in the media is twisted and misinterpreted. Rhino Fund Uganda, its Executive Director and D & D International Ltd (Amuka Lodge) have no desire or have never attempted to “steal” any Leasehold or Mailo land from Joe Roy. What is referred to as a “Land Wrangle” is merely the above contesting the early termination notices and protecting their interests and investments on the said land.
k) Further, by letter dated 27th May,2019, Joe Roy through his lawyers wrote to the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) , World Bank and UNDP urging them to desist from further funding Rhino Fund Uganda, claiming in this letter that Rhino Fund Uganda and its Executive Director are busy with illegal activities and conflicted.
l) On the basis of these facts Rhino Fund Uganda instructed its Lawyers Ms. Opyene & Co. Advocates and Ms. Sekabanja & Co. Advocates to seek necessary redress from the courts to protect among others its interests on this land.
m) That the said lawyers secured a court injunction (copy of which is attached for references) to foster the security and safety of the Rhinos, an extremely vulnerable and endangered species.
n) This order aforementioned does not and did not by any glimpse of error or wildest interpretation bar Joe Roy from accessing his land, business or client guest house which he refers to as his home. Joe Roy, his colleagues and family have been and still have access to the sanctuary whenever and wherever he wishes. There are bundles and volumes of evidence both documentary and photographic showing Roy happily in the sanctuary, the last 4 night visit being November 2019.
o) The above notwithstanding, there are security protocols which are in place, put with strict adherence, for the protection of the people, and, safety of the Rhinos, of which its application is a norm not an exception.
p) The “war” which is played to the gallery is to distort the clear facts of the sequence of events. The call to meet the His Excellency the President was in good faith and initiated by the Local Government of Nakasongola under its chairmanship, this was when the case had already been filed in court.
q) It suffices to mention that, inside the sanctuary there exist Amuka lodge under the auspice of D & D International Ltd which has a concession agreement to operate a business in a 1Km square piece of land. The same Roy issued a termination notice, which matter is still under litigation and Rhino Fund shall not be in position to comment further.
r) It needs to be mentioned that, after Joe Roy refused to accept the concession fees payable to him from D & D International Ltd, D & D as per their concession agreement took the termination case to arbitration and secured a protection order which restricts Joe Roy from interfering with its operation until the disposal of the case.
s) We need to restate clearly, that the MOU being generated from State House, which we are yet to see, is a document which shall guide the relation of the parties going forward, but does not and did not stop the parties from accessing interim remedies which is available to the parties including and not limited to Roy, who is also busy in the corridors of court filing cases and applications here and there against Rhino Fund. Comfort letters from His Excellency the President as well as the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities indicating that the land matters have been resolved have been received by Rhino Fund Uganda.
t) It needs to be reiterated that the Rhino Fund Uganda Board has not been disbanded by His Excellency the President. It was clearly stated by His Excellency the President that the Rhino Fund Uganda constitution will be adjusted to increase the Board Member numbers in order to accommodate 2 or 3 members of Joe Roy on the Board and that Rhino Fund Uganda will remain the organization responsible for the management of the rhino program on the sanctuary as per the cooperation agreement that Rhino Fund Uganda has with Uganda Wildlife Authority. Joe Roy will not be involved in the management of this project other than having seats on the Rhino Fund Uganda Board.
u) Rhino Fund Uganda will remain an NGO and further guiding principals’ of the relationship arrangements will be dealt with in the MOU which is yet to be received and agreed upon.
v) What has been reported, quoted and published in various/diverse media and forums have been grossly misrepresented with ulterior motives best known to the authors. And the same should be disregarded, condemned and ignored with contempt.
w) It was agreed by both parties that all court cases will remain open until the MOU is signed by all. Once the MOU is signed, all parties will withdraw their court cases at their own cost.
x) Documentation to verify all of the above has been handed to the media and is available.
Sincere thanks go to His Excellency the President, his staff, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Nakasongola District Local Government and Stakeholders for assisting in mediating this matter and securing the future of Uganda’s rhinos