The leftovers of the controversial reign of Kahinda Otafire as Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry up to the elections earlier this year and the formation of a new government, are coming back to haunt as the case brought by friends of the Uganda Museum is going back to court this Tuesday.
Otafire had casually dismissed opponents of his megalomaniac plans to build a 60 storey Trade Centre on the site of the museum, incidentally with no concrete plans how to finance the building, for which the old had to give way to the new and in turn graciously offering two floors of the new tower to house the museum.
Conservationists, historic building buffs and those feeling the need to preserve listed buildings in Uganda, of which the Uganda Museum is one, filed suit against the government at the time Otafire gave his full mouthed statements and won an injunction, barring government from interfering with the building and halting any progress on the planning or work on the site. Hopes are high that when the hearing of the main case goes underway, that government will be permanently barred from developing the site.
Sadly, and it seems especially so under Otafires reign, is the department of antiquities amongst the worst facilitated in the ministry, leading to decay in the museums still nominally in existence across the country while at the Uganda Museum the lack of funding shows in the upkeep and their ability to host regular major themed shows and exhibitions, which could spur greater interest and support the financial wellbeing of the institution.
Opponents of the project are also taking hope that the current financial situation in the country, with empty government coffers and inflation running at over 30 percent, there will simply be no money to go ahead, unless the entire site is privatized, a phrase often used to hive off assets to buddies who then share their ill-gotten windfall with their political godfathers. The case begins in earnest at the High Court in Kampala, at 2 pm this Tuesday.
Compiled by Jackie