TOURISM STATE MINISTER LOSES RACE FOR PARLIAMENT
Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities in the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry Hon. Serapio Rukundo, lost his quest to return to parliament when he was beaten by an independent candidate in his home town of Kabale in South Western Uganda.
Rukundo was repeatedly in the news when a parliamentary committee investigated the expenditure for the 2007 CHOGM Summit in Kampala, where he was cited as responsible for the loss of billions of shillings. In one case he was alleged – alleged because the case never did go to court up to now – to have been responsible for the payment to complete a ‘CHOGM Hotel’ along Entebbe road THREE days prior to the summit opening, yet this hotel had never even been approved by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, leaving observers bewildered how such could happen. In the second instance he was alleged to have authorised massive overpayment for consultancy services for training hotel staff ahead of the summit, a deal in fact literally ripped from underneath the national Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Jinja, which had laid all the ground work, done all the proposals and relevant write ups and was then left to rue having faithfully handed it over to the Ministry of Tourism, amongst others only to see it ‘swim away’. There allegedly money was made, or squandered, by contracting ill suited companies and individuals keen to put their snouts into the money trough and the parliamentary committee did make it clear that little value if any was received for the country and the hospitality industry.
A source in Kabale attributed Rukundo’s loss however rather more to the complex and complicated local politics in South Western Uganda’s biggest town, while conceding that the bad publicity over CHOGM had done the minister no favours as he sought re-election. Allegations of ‘rigging’ in the NRM primaries had also emerged, prompting the ultimate winner to go ‘independent’ and then beating the minister at the polls.
From the same ministry did also the State Minister for Trade not make it back to parliament and is now out in the political cold with his colleague. This will likely result in new faces taking charge of these portfolios when the new government is being formed and announced, expected to be sometime in April. Watch this space.