Uganda tourism state minister loses race for parliament


UGANDA (eTN) – Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities in the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, and Industry, the 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 (Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting) 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 until 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 a thing could happen.

In the second instance, he was alleged to have authorized 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, among others, only to see it “swim away.” Their money was allegedly made, or squandered, by contracting ill-suited companies and individuals keen to put their snouts into the money trough, and the parliamentary committee made 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 favors 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 the State Minister for Trade did 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.