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group appeals for revocation of agreement

Greed and envy lot back in Uganda tourism

wolfgang h. thome, etn  Jun 01, 2010

Having failed to substantially influence the political decision makers with their greed and envy cries, the same group has now resorted to appeal to the target="_blank">Inspector General of Government (IGG)
to revoke an agreement between the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Nkuringo Conservation Trust, under which auspices the Clouds Safari Lodge was built and is now operating successfully, playing an important part in promoting gorilla tourism and conservation efforts for Uganda. According to press reports, the IGG’s office has gotten involved in the saga, arguably the last-ditch effort to overturn a decision made several years ago and a thorn in the side of a few disgruntled people ever since, whose biggest issue is that it was not them who got the deal.

The same quarters, generally considered a small minority, have also repeatedly in the past thrown mud on the Madhvani group over their existing and legally-binding agreements with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which grant them an exclusion zone around their lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchisons Falls National Park for the duration of the initial agreement, with the agitators openly demanding that the contracts be broken by government. They have also been playing the Asian racial card on a number of occasions, a despicable behavior by any standards and exposing them for the disregard they so obviously have for the rule of law and respect for contractual agreements.

Sources close to USAID, one of the international agencies which funded the project from its onset, also confirmed that as far as they were concerned there were no irregularities over the funds granted to the project and the way those funds were spent, citing past audits, which cleared and sanctioned their modus operandum. Said this source: "We also fail to understand or even appreciate why the Ugandan IGG should concern himself with our funding; we are answerable to Washington, and they were and continue to be ok with it." In addition, according to sources who prefer to be anonymous, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) "having a clear conscience," that "the process at the time was completely above board" and that it was both competitive and in "no way discriminatory as alleged by some disgruntled people who failed to submit proposals in time or failed to make proposals worth considering."

Notably, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) has come out strongly in favor of the investors and the deal, telling the detractors to stop "messing with the investor" in a hard-hitting message published in the local media over the weekend. UIA’s executive director, Prof. Dr. Maggie Kigozi, was throwing their institutional weight behind The Uganda Safari Company/Wild Places Africa in an unequivocal way, saying TUSC had invested where others did not dare and promoted Uganda’s tourism industry abroad to the extent of having Prince Charles visit Uganda and staying at their Nakasero based Emin Pasha boutique hotel.

The matter may now be heading to court, as UWA, the Nkuringo Trust Fund, and the operator of the Clouds Safari Lodge are unlikely to comply with IGG directives without a full legal battle, more so as several of those controversial rulings and directives made by the office of the IGG in the past have recently been overturned by Ugandan courts in favor of the complainants, lending credibility over allegations of bias and favoritism. It seems greed and envy, and wanting to grab what is not theirs, are indeed mighty motivators and drivers.

Greed and envy lot back in Uganda tourism
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