Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Imagine you have a house in dire need of repair – it is in sore need of a paint job, the doors are hanging off the hinges, you have plywood and cardboard in some window panes, tiles are cracked, missing or sliding off the roof every so often. You don’t have the funds to repair and you daren’t sell your children’s inheritance. 

You get a willing tenant and outline your demands.

You expect to rent, you agree that some repairs are required and you also agree a breach of contract clause, which among other thing says you will refund your tenant the cost of the renovations and expected future income he may have derived from the property according to an agreed formula.

So you shake on the deal and with the 12 months, say $12,000, down payment you are off.

Your tenant goes in and finds that a major overhaul is required. You agree on the new cost of repairs say $50,000 compared to the original $25,000.

So the tenant renovates the property and rents out the house at $5,000 a month or $60,000 a year.
Your spouse hears of this and starts muttering under his breath how you have been ripped off and how you don’t have business acumen.

Your darling husband does not stop at that but starts actively pushing for a return of the house barely a year into the contract.

The tenant while inconvenienced, agrees and computes the cost you will have to refund – the cost of renovation, plus a percentage of anticipated income into the future, less the rent he has already paid you. It comes up to almost the value of the property.

"When your husband hears of the terms of termination he calls, your tenant a day light robber, you the stupidest spouse in Singapore, swears he will nullify the contract and throw your tenant out on his behind with not a penny more...

But what hardens his resolve even more is the sneaking suspicion he holds that you are actually earning more from the house than you are declaring and “wasting” it on dresses, handbags and ghastly pedicures.

He even threatens you with divorce, as well as acquiring the said property as a settlement.
Ridiculous! Preposterous! Outrageous!

This is exactly what the honourable members of parliament seating on the adhoc committee on the performance of the electricity sub-sector are proposing in suggesting that we cancel our contracts with power generator Eskom, who manage Owen Falls Dam complex and Umeme, who are the distributors of the power generated.

They blame Eskom, for not generating enough power and therefore in breach of contract and yet during the period under question water levels on Lake Victoria were low and their generating capacity was diminished. Things have changed since with the entrance of Bujagali dam and several other small hydro-power dams.

They blame Umeme for the persistent blackouts that were happening at the time – never mind the above challenges Eskom faced, and also charge that the $130m Umeme claims it has laid out on rehabilitating the  distribution networks is over exaggerated.

In a nutshell like the aforementioned jealous hubby, shocked at how much Umeme is making and wanting more, no, all the money, they are suggesting that we throw out these companies and take back the generation and distribution functions.

Failing to find any breach of contract by these companies the MPs have called for a cancellation of the contracts all together arguing they were badly negotiated in favour of the new concessionaires.
And for full measure are baying for the blood of this and the other government official for the heck of it.

In 1997 then Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) boss Simon D’Ujanga took a team of journalists around the company’s installations and showed that at the then rate of uptake of power with no new power generation capacity coming on line, a daily loadshedding schedule was imminent.
It was front page news the following day.

"The government owned UEB failed to run the growing network and meet generation demands, and now these MPs in their infinite wisdom are suggesting a return to government of a working system...
I have my suspicion that none of these MPs lived in Kampala – after all it was only the capital city that had electricity, during those horrendous days and therefore are not averse to throwing around their opinions willy nilly.

On a more universal level this attempted reneging on contracts is being watched keenly by anyone who wants to invest in this country, including local investors. What’s the point of committing millions of dollars or even shillings over 10-, 20- even 50-years when I know that a schizophrenic government can wake up one morning and dispossess me of my investment? 

The same way you may never get another tenant in your new house once your hubby has got rid of your old one.

"Honourable MPs, with your sh20m salaries, hundred million shilling four wheel drive guzzlers and billion shilling car park, you make us – the down trodden of the earth, wonder whether you are  irredeemably stupid or that you have ulterior, self-serving motives that we are not privy to, that motivate your actions....

Tell us which is it? Because clearly you are not representing us.

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