Uganda’s tourism minister gets into fresh controversy


Uganda’s controversial tourism minister Kahinda Otafire, by his own description aka minister of crocodiles, has again stepped into the spotlight when dismissing the pleas of members of the East African Legislative Assembly and civil society by saying categorically that ‘the museum must go’. He accused those lobbying for the preservation of the post independence building of being ‘backward’ and vowing that plans to build a 60 storey tower on the site will go ahead. It was also learned from ministry insiders that the building would be done in private public partnership, considering that government has no money presently as per the minister of finance’ own admission, the only way forward, but also a controversial way if not all provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act are strictly enforced and the search for a ‘partner’ conducted in a fully transparent and open manner.

The minister was in the ‘badlines’ late last and early this year over his appointment of a board for the Uganda Wildlife Authority which was thrown out by the High Court in Kampala, which sided with the argument of the plaintiffs that those appointed were lacking the qualifications required under the Wildlife Act. The former appointees, in particular the former chairman, entered their appointments ‘with intent’ and acted like financial Hoovers when multiplying their own allowances and other benefits, which when resisted by management then led to the sacking of almost the entire senior executive team.

Said one individual known for his affinity to preserving buildings in Kampala for posterity and to retain some historical links with the country’s past to this correspondent: ‘This minister is known for his angry reactions and his sort of statements. Tourism deserves better, like when Migereko was still in charge of that ministry, but after he left that place went to sleep and now it is full of controversy. The department of antiquities and monuments is barely tolerated when they speak up to preserve things and other than salaries there is no money for them to do many activities. I can’t personally wait for a new cabinet and only hope that a more enlightened politician takes over that place, because as he says the museum must go so many others say it is actually he who should go’.

Strong words spoken in defence of principles.