Pastor Kakande grilled over environmental degradation, directed to halt activities – uganda
MASAKA. Pastor Samuel Kakande of Synagogue Church of all Nations was on Friday evening grilled by Justice Catharine Bamugemereire-led commission of inquiry into land matters for three hours after discovering that his farming activities on the shores of Lake Victoria in Masaka are in violation of environmental laws.
The commission lead counsel, Mr Ebert Byenkya told the commission, convening in Masaka that Pastor Kakande under his Aqua World Uganda Ltd owns over 40 square miles of land along the shoreline, part of which has wetlands which have been greatly depleted.
He said Pastor Kakande also encroached on forest reserves in the area and cut down all the trees, constructed a permanent murrum road in the wetland in addition to digging up deep trenches which have drained the wetland.
“He cleared all the trees in the forests reserve, dug trenches in the wetland and uses chemicals that are not only dangerous to the ecosystem of the area, but also to the workers on the farm and people in the area because it is poorly disposed of, ” he said.
The commission also faulted him for employing underage workers and foreigners including Congolese and Burundians who lack work permits, which violates labour laws.
This prompted the commission chairperson Justice Catherine Bamugemereire to issue an order, directing Pastor Kakande to immediately halt farming activities in the area to allow the commission investigate alleged fraud in acquisition of land in the area.
“I want you to stop all the ongoing activities in that place to allow the commission do its investigations. Do you hear me? Do you understand me?” Justice Bamugemereire asked as she directed the ‘man of God’ as he’s popularly referred to by his followers.
She said her decision was not targeting Pastor Kakande as an individual, adding that the commission has done the same in districts of Wakiso, Kyotera and Mubende where they have found people ‘illegally’ occupying wetlands and other protected natural resources.
The commission noted that Pastor Kakande failed to adhere to the recommendations in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)report conducted by National Environment Management Authority(Nema) which cautioned him against carrying out activities which are contrary to the conditions and terms spelt out in the certificate which was given to him. Pastor Kakanda , who acquired land to grow palm oil, ended up growing rice which he said was not for commercial purposes.
Pastor Kakande was also directed to return his EIA report to Nema for cancellation, remove all his graders and excavators from the farm, surrender copies of his audited books of accounts, copies of his company annual tax returns to Uganda Revenue Authority among other vital documents to the commission not later than October 10.
He was further directed to appear before Masaka District environment authorities in person since they complained that he was elusive and had earlier turned down their entire summons. Pastor Kakande shocked the commission when he said that he doesn’t know his exact age.
“My Lord, I don’t know my exact age but I think I am about 50 years old,” said Pastor Kakande throwing the commissioners and people who attended the proceedings into endless laughter.
He revealed to the commission that he possesses between eight to 10 land titles in wetlands in Masaka, but could not reveal how much money he paid to acquire the tittles.
“I own a lot of land, so I need to re- visit my documents which I did not carry today,” he added.
Information before the commission indicates that Ms Noeline Ndagire , a secretary to Pastor Kakande purchased 150 hectares of land from Masaka District land board at only Shs250,000 on September 30, 2014 , which she later sold to Pastor Kakande at over Shs70 million which the commission found irregular.
Another questionable land deal was that of 235 hectares in Buwunga Sub -county in Masaka District which was allocated to the deputy Chief of Defense Forces, Lt. Gen Wilson Mbadi at Shs200,000 which the latter also reportedly sold to Pastor Kakande at Shs80million after a few days. This implies that Pastor Kakande purchased each acre of land from Gen Mbadi at Shs851, which the commission found to be irregular.
He said though the land is registered in his names, it will soon be transferred in the names of Synagogue Church of Nations, which he heads, insisting that the property belongs to his followers .
“ It is true we purchase land through our company Aqau World Uganda Ltd, where I am a shareholder together with Noeline Ndagire but the projects we carried out on such land belongs to church members. So, I am yet to transfer this particular land in the names of the Church like I have done to other property ,” he said
Pastor Kakande apologised for degrading the environment in the area, saying he was not aware that growing rice was contrary to the Environment Impact Assessment done by National Environment Management Authority (Nema).
But still, commissioner Fred Ruhindi said although Nema cleared Pastor Kakande to grow palm oil in the area ,he should consider another farming business insisting that palm oil will further endanger the ecosystem of the shores as he has to cut down natural trees to create space for palm oil plantations.
source; Daily Monitor.