Joseph Kalungi, the former Masaka District LC V Chairperson has cautioned his successors against the proposed sale of the district headquarters purportedly to get money to build a new home. The current district leadership led by the LC V Chairperson, Andrew Lukyamuzi Batemyeto has placed Masaka district headquarters at Kitabiro in Masaka City on sale to block Masaka City Council from occupying the premises.
The decision to sell off the headquarters comes at the height of a heated quarrel between the district political leadership and the Masaka City Council Mayor Florence Namayanja, arising from the latter’s attempts to take over the headquarters.
Masaka district is opposed to the takeover without compensation. Kalungi describes the decision to sell off the district headquarters as illogical, saying it will destroy the great history attached to the current site of the district headquarters seats, especially if the property is sold to a private developer who may change its use.
He explains that the district headquarters are located in the same place that formally hosted the offices of the British Colonial Administrators as they spread their tentacles to different regions of the country in the early 1900s.
According to Kalungi, the current district headquarters, which sits on one of the fairly elevated sites in the center of Masaka city was the enclave of the former regional colonial administrators, hence a representation of the origin of political leadership for the entire greater Masaka sub-region now comprised of ten districts.
Before the district offices were relocated from the Buddu County headquarters at Sazza in 2012, Kalungi explains that the leadership then, earlier found it wise to redevelop and reoccupy the current headquarters with a strategic interest in preserving the historical significance of the place.
Kalungi, who was Masaka LC V chairperson between 2011 to 2016, says that the headquarters, which has become the center of the controversy was constructed on public resources lobbied by President Yoweri Museveni, arguing that there is no justification to sell it off to a private person.
He has asked current district leadership to reconsider the decision and instead enter a mutual agreement with Masaka City council leadership to allow them to occupy the headquarters on the condition that they also support the district to acquire a new home.
Notably, in November 2021, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka formally asked leaders of mother districts that had their headquarters swallowed within the boundaries of the newly created cities to find alternative sites where they could construct new administration offices.
He guided in his circular that if the mother districts have their headquarters and other immovable assets within the jurisdiction of the city, they hand them over to the newly created urban local council to support their growth.
However, the guidance has since been protested by the political leaders of Masaka district, arguing that they cannot afford to lose their hard-earned properties to the city unless they are compensated.
Kalungi says the guidance notwithstanding, Masaka district previously lost some of its precious assets to the new districts that were curved out after it become a requirement for the mother district to support the growth of the new local governments.
Last week, the Local Government Minister, Raphael Magyezi cautioned districts where new cities were created not to dare sell any property until the government issues guidance on the matter. Despite the directives, Andrew Lukyamuzi Batemyetto, the Masaka LC V Chairperson maintains that the district council already took a decision that best suits in its best interests.