Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, are said to have formed a private company to redevelop all Catholic shrines and faith-based tourist sites across the country, including Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo.
Daily Monitor cites records of the Registrar of Companies, Uganda Martyrs Shrines Redevelopment Limited (UMSRL), was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee on February 26, 2014, with Mbabazi and Archbishop Lwanga as chairman and vice chairman, respectively.
Severino Twinobusingye, one of Mbabazi’s lead lawyers on his current presidential bid, is the company secretary.
According to the newspaper, a February 4, 2014 ordinary meeting of the company resolved to open up a current account with the largely Catholic Church-owned Centenary Bank, and picked Mbabazi’s daughter Nina Rukikaire, as a signatory alongside Archbishop Lwanga and businessman and MTN chairman, Charles Mbire.
The company, according to its memorandum of association, was formed to, among other objectives, “prepare for the celebration of the golden jubilee of the canonisation of the Uganda Martyrs; prepare for the visit of Pope Francis; and redevelop the Namugongo and Munyonyo martyrs’ shrines on behalf of the people of Uganda”.
At the time the company was registered, Mbabazi was still prime minister and leader of government business in Parliament – positions that placed him at the centre of coordinating preparations for a visiting foreign head of state such as the Pope.
Critic weighs in
Charles Rwomushana, a political analyst wonders how a Catholic religious leader decides to “Go Forward” [Mbabazi’s vote catchword] even if it means going against protocol.
“Let me remind my Arch Bishop Lwanga in case he has forgotten; visiting Shrines in prayers offers points in indulgences. This is also true in saying the Rosary,” Rwomushana points out.
“These points in indulgences assist souls in Purgatory that can’t prayer for themselves to exit and ascend to Heaven. Those blessed souls like Virgin Mary and any other Saints pray for souls in Purgatory to make it.”
“Its these Indulgences of the Church together with Jesus Christ Grace that empower the Catholic Church to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Penitence.”
He cites Martin Luther, American civil rights leader, who opposed this view on grounds that Salvation is a gift freely given by God’s Grace and by the sacrifice in Jesus Christ on the Cross.
“Therefore, what deal does the so called religious leader enter with a politician in relation to a Holy Shrine?” wonders Rwomushana.
“Ofcourse Mr Lwanga’s action triggers an action in President Yoweri Museveni who will empty the Consolidated Fund meant for the suffering poor to the said Shrine.”
He says there was a time when Jesus Christ would get angry and hit Soul on the road to Damascus.
“Why can’t Jesus Christ get angry and hit Archbishop Lwanga and stop the Pope from visiting Uganda until these heathens who have stolen from the poor are out of power!”
In a letter to Daily Monitor, Mbabazi denied having personal interests in the saga saying the redevelopment of the Namugongo Martyrs Grounds and the shrine is a church initiative.
“It has been the desire of the Catholic Church to modernise the grounds, as it is an International Heritage ground as well as a site for all Catholic devotees.”
Mbabazi said the plans to develop Namugongo originated from a church committee led by His Grace Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and the church had its own steering committee for the development including his daughter, Nina Rukikaire.
“The Archbishop rightly stated that his initial contact about my involvement was with Bank of Uganda Governor; Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, who suggested the inclusion of an eminent government official on the steering committee as a way of attracting more funding.”
“I consulted President Museveni on the matter and received his go ahead. My role, therefore, was not in my private capacity but as the prime minister of Uganda.”
Amama said it was then that the executive office of the prime minister then set up an inter-ministerial steering committee that was going to assist the church to as much as possible realise the dream of a developed Namugongo Martyrs grounds.
“This initiative then became a church and government-led initiative with a joint steering committee put in place in which I was chairman. The role of the chairman of the committee was to convene meetings of the national steering committee, chair the meetings and coordinate between the government and the Roman Catholic Church.”