The wealth of the embattled Security Minister, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi has shocked Members of Parliament (MPs) and will definitely alarm Ugandans after it emerged last night that the man is filthy rich.
We have learnt the Shs11bn land which the super minister sold to NSSF is a tip of an iceberg in as far as his riches are concerned.
Shocking details about Mbabazi's riches availed to us by Members of Parliament indicate the minister to be owning shares in big companies; ranging from telecom corporations to banks.
Mbabazi, the once revolutionary Mr. Clean is entangled in a scandal over the Shs11bn land he sold to the pension fund that MPs claim was inflated and that he wielded his political power to coerce NSSF into buying from him.
They also claim that NSSF managers abused procurement laws and that they were politically influenced to offer the powerful security minister the deal.
However, Mbabazi insists that he is innocent and that it was a clear case of willing buyer and willing seller.
Mbabazi blames the consequences from the deal, which Parliament is investigating on political enemies.
Since the Temangalo land saga, the media has been awash with reports about the minister but no media house has ever taken the courtesy of revealing the riches of the man who will go down the memory lane as the first Ugandan to reap such amount of money from a piece of land.
Reports reaching us from Parliament reveal that Mbabazi is said to be a shareholder in Hits Telecom, a mobile telecommunications company that is yet to launch its operations in Uganda.
MPs told us last night that Mbabazi acquired shares in Hits Telecom in March 2007 after helping the company secure an operation license in Uganda.
According to the MPs, before Hits Telecom bosses secured the operational license, they first approached a vocal and Munyankole minister for guidance.
The minister is said to have told the bosses that to invest in Uganda, they need not less than U$50M roughly Shs80bn which they did not have.
They also suspected the minister wanted to diddle them like other investors who have fallen prey to ministers. The unconvinced Hits Telecom bosses decided to go for another option or Plan B; Amama Mbabazi.
Mbabazi is said to have assisted them till they secured the license on March 12, 2007.
As a reward for the good work he had done, Hits Telecom is said to have incorporated him (Mbabazi) as a local investor with a 12% shareholding.
The telecom has since been acquired by a leading French telecommunications company, Orange Group.
As we write this, according to our sources, representatives of Orange Group are already in the country studying the market and acclimatizing with Uganda.
After acquiring a 51% stake in Telkom Kenya, the Orange Group launched its mobile business under its Orange brand in Kenya over the weekend and it is soon launching in Uganda.
NATIONAL BANK OF COMMERCE (NBC)
John Patrick Amama Mbabazi is now the leading shareholder in National Bank of Commerce after investing in Shs11bn he got from his Temangalo land which he sold to NSSF.
Mbabazi used the money to buy the entire shares held by the Gidoomal family, who have been the majority shareholder.
According to Mbabazi, NBC is doing well. The bank recorded the highest percentage increase in earnings in 2007 after its profit after tax went up from Shs176.5 million to Shs591.6 million-a more than 300% jump.
With only two branches; one on Parliamentary Avenue and another in Kabale town, the bank is able to record a lot of profitsand must be doing well.
According to NBC books of accounts for 2007, the bank increased its loans and advances from Shs2.7 billion in 2006 to Shs2.9 billion in 2007.
The NBC's shareholders' equity, which is the money that shareholders have invested in the bank and any other money that might have accrued from its investments, stood unchanged at Shs 4.6 billion between 2006 and 2007.
Mbabazi told the local media last week that the bank is working to increase its share capital to $50 million and then eventually to $1 billion and that they intend to raise the money in the shortest time possible.
According to our sources, until a few years ago, Mbabazi owned three playboy like mansions near the residence of the American Ambassador to Uganda, below summit view in Kololo and in a leafy Kampala suburb.
However, he sold them at more than Shs3bn and invested the proceeds in Arma Ltd.
Mbabazi who is also the Secretary General of the ruling National Resistance Movement(NRM) owns a palace along Nyonyi Gardens near Kololo Airstrip, adjacent to Minister Rwamwirama's equally posh home.
When contacted last night, Real Estates experts put the price of this plush house at Shs4bn.
A part from the Kololo mansion 'Mr. Clean' owns a mansion in his ancestral home Kinkiizi, Kanungu district and experts put its value at Shs2bn.
A pal to Mbabazi talked of the house last night "It's very nice and everything in it looks beautiful. It's as big as a church if not a cathedral".
MPs further revealed to us last night that Mbabazi is said to be a shareholder in Balton Uganda.
BALTON UGANDA is part of Balton CP which is owned by CP HOLDINGS LTD, a UK based company with investments in a variety of companies and diversified activities around the world.
It deals in construction, telecommunications, agriculture, horticulture and engineering among other activities.
Balton (U) Ltd, housed along Kibira Road in Industrial Area got an exclusive contract to supply all the communications equipment that were used by the Police and other security organs during CHOGM conference last year.
Among the people behind Balton Uganda Ltd is one Israel national by the name Zeev Shiff.
Incidentally, this is the same guy who survived the air crash that killed Col. Jet Mwebaze in western Uganda on September 25 1998.
During CHOGM, this company (Balton) was tasked with the installation of CCTV cameras around Kampala and Entebbe, and also supplied all the walkie-talkies and other communication gadgets that were used by intelligence organs.
Today every walkie-talkie that the Uganda Police uses is supplied by Balton.
The same Balton is the only supplier of teargas trucks and all accessories thereof to the Ugandan Police.
MBABAZI: M7's BLUED EYED BOY
Perhaps Mbabazi's biggest and priceless asset is his closeness to President Yoweri Museveni.
Their closeness, according to reliable sources is traced as far back as 1970 when he (Mbabazi) helped Museveni to revamp FRONASA which had been thoroughly crushed in Mbarara.
Since then, the two NRM bigwigs became so close that during the time when Museveni was minister of Defence (Binaisa regime) and Mbabazi Permanent Secretary for the same ministry, both men lived In Kololo.
Museveni used to stay along Prince Charles Drive, just few metres from Mbabazi's home at Gold Cruise.
"Their kids used to travel in one military Land Rover to and from school. Museveni's kids used to study from Nakasero Kindergarten while Mbabazi's used to go to Buganda Road and Nakasero Primary Schools," a source said last night.
Museveni-Mbabazi relationship blossomed in 1980 when Binaisa was kicked from power by Dr. Apollo Milton Obote.
During that time, Museveni had travelled to Iraq on government business and that it was only Mbabazi who went to Museveni's home to comfort Janet and his kids.
"He would even enter the bedroom without a hitch and up to now, they are still tight," a pal said last night.
Our other sources have also opened the lid and revealed more about Mbabazi-Museveni closeness.
They argue that between 1986 and 1996, Museveni used to consult three people; Eriya Kategaya, Amama Mbabazi and Kahinda Otafiire before announcing any changes in government.
However, according to our sources, Mbabazi's word would prevail over what others said. "Mbabazi has since been referred to as Museveni's blue eyed boy and Super Minister," a source observed.
In fact, a story is told how Internal Affairs Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda would have been relieved of his cabinet roles and reassigned other duties long time ago had it not been Mbabazi who pleaded for him.
"There is a time when Museveni wanted to knife Rugunda but Mbabazi pleaded for him and he (Rugunda) was spared.
Infant Mbabazi is Rugunda's Angel Gabriel because he always delivers good news to him," our source quipped last night.