Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) is not in position to carry out party activities such as hold a delegate’s conference and call a national council because the party is broke.
Top party leaders tell RedPepper Online that the party’s financial situation is dire and embarrassing because elementary funds that should be collected through membership fees have not seen the light of day.
Professor Edward Kakonge, the national chairman, says that instead of raising money party members insist on expecting money from the Milton Obote Foundation (MOF) yet it has nothing to do with the party.
Prof. Kakonge, a member of the Milton Obote Foundation, says currently they are paying for salaries for party workers and paying for trips made by party officials outside the country including party President Olara Otunnu.
It’s been years since most party members paid their membership fee at 2,000 shillings and Members of Parliament paying a monthly fee of 200,000 shillings. The party also depends on well-wishers and donors, though a major party donor such as the Democratic Governance Facility is still demanding for accountability of 100 million shillings given to the party in 2011.
Vice President Joseph Bossa says the party would do with a little more money but MOF has its own financial limitations. He also reiterates that party members are also now asking for money from the party instead of giving the party money. He adds that the few party offices upcountry are now being run by people spending out of their pockets.
Both Bossa and Prof. Kakonge contend that Uganda House, the party headquarters, needs some renovation which would then through rent increase funds that could be channeled for the party use.
The Milton Obote Foundation had planned to expand the parking area last year and put up structures on plot 8 that currently also works as a parking yard.
However, Prof. Kakonge says last year Betty Amongin MP Oyam South and the UPC Parliamentary group put an injunction which has delayed the plans for another two years. He reveals that they had secured a loan for construction but Amongin and Jimmy Akena MP Lira Municipality claimed that they had plans to mortgage the house and later sell it off.
But Akena who is also a member of MOF charges Kakonge and his group including Peter Walubiri the party treasurer general, Okello Okello, Cidi Mindra and Chris Opio of designs to mortgage Uganda house for 18 million dollars. He insists they did not seek for permission from the party organs which have a say in whatever is done to with assets under MOF.
He explains that in the 1960’s political parties were not registered entities and when UPC started building they found that accessing funds and entering into contracts was a problem.
With the existence of MOF then as a corporate body, the Central Executive body of the UPC sat and agreed to transfer their interests from UPC to MOF to allow the building of Uganda House.
Along the way grew a disconnect between MOF and the party which the current MOF leaders are trying to exploit.
However, according to Prof. Kakonge MOF is a membership organization by invitation with payment of 1000 dollars membership fee. He insists MOF was registered as a charity organization to manage financial interests of the party but not look after the financial interests of the party which people like MP Akena misunderstand.
He urges Akena to take his late Father as an example who would borrow money from MOF and pay back, but always insisted that none of his family members should be involved with MOF.
In the 1960’s UPC applied for the plot that now holds Uganda House with an erection value of 250,000 pounds. Other assets that belong to MOF include Malaysia Furniture house on 7th Street industrial area, Uganda House school supplies, a warehouse in Mbale and Uganda publishing house which is not functional.
Some party members state that the group demanding for the mortgating of Uganda House were responsible for Olara Otunnu’s return as Party President and fully financed his campaigns during the 2011 general elections.
However, they are currently starving the party of finances which means Otunnu cannot hold a national council meeting which would reveal their plans.