Kisoro, September 20, 2023
City lawyer and partner at Pathway Advocates, Patrick Katabazi Kiconco, has called upon tea nursery bed operators in Kisoro to resist the involvement of individual politicians in the compensation program. He alleges that these politicians aim to politicize the process, potentially delaying the payment of uncleared balances for economic loss.
Katabazi Kiconco made these remarks while addressing tea nursery bed operators gathered at Kisoro district headquarters.
Highlighting his efforts alongside tea farmer leaders, Lawyer Patrick Katabaazi explained that they had successfully secured compensation amounting to 39 billion shillings. This amount had been fully paid to claimants across the region, in addition to the 18 billion shillings disbursed by the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS).
He disclosed that tea farmers from Kisoro district had received 8.1 billion shillings, in addition to 7.2 billion shillings from NAADS, totaling 15.4 billion shillings. However, he emphasized that the government still owes tea farmers over 60% of the total compensation amounting to 132 billion shillings.
Some tea farmers, including Mucyunguzi Wilberforce and Bahinyuza Festus, raised concerns that exorbitant legal fees had been deducted from their bank accounts without their consent. Muchunguzi Wilberforce, a tea farmer from Rubuguri town council, alleged that over 60% of his compensation had been deducted without his approval. He further claimed that a Member of Parliament had persuaded him to sign a blank form, which he now viewed as a deceptive act.
However, Lawyer Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi refuted these claims, stating that exorbitant legal fees could not be deducted from claimants’ bank accounts without their consent. He urged claimants to review each individual’s name and the corresponding amount received. Claimants declined, stating that they would obtain the necessary information from his office.
Katabazi Kiconco also stressed that the government still owed tea farmers over 60% of the total compensation.
He advised tea nursery bed operators to avoid involvement with politicians and instead remain united and work together as a team to demand their rightful compensation.
For those facing errors in their transactions, Katabazi Kiconco encouraged them to present their complaints to his office for rectification.
Frank Byaruhanga, the chairperson of tea nursery bed operators in southwestern Uganda, assured his members that their lawyer would compile a list of beneficiaries and the corresponding amounts received in their bank accounts. This list would be submitted to their representatives and district leaders to correct any noted errors.
Last month, the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) summoned Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi to address allegations of misappropriation related to the Shs 39 billion fund. These allegations stemmed from a query raised in the 2021/2022 Auditor General’s report, which revealed discrepancies in the disbursement of funds intended for tea nursery operators who had sued the government due to its failure to procure their seedlings.