Sserulanda: Lake Victoria Free Trade Zone Dream Still Alive Top story

6376 Views Rakai town, Uganda

In short
URN has learnt that Benunura Eyenunula Nunumisa, the Executive Director of Sserulanda Foundation is in China to hold negotiations for the release of funds.

Authorities at Sserulanda Spiritual Foundation in Rakai say their dream for the establishment of the Lake Victoria Free Trade Zone is still alive despite sabotage from government. 


In 2006, Government signed a compressive Memorandum with Kagera Eco-Cities Limited for the establishment of a Free Trade Zone. The memorandum of understanding granted the Eco-City a municipality status and a charter based on International governance practices. 


According to memorandum, the Lake Victoria Free Trade Zone was expected to cover Kabila Sub County where the foundation is based, Kukuuto and Kasasa sub counties. However, government backtracked on the memorandum and blocked the project. 


It also blocked the funding from China for the project following controversies on surrounding Sserulanda Spiritual Movement led by, Bambi Baaba Babuwe Mugonza. Government instituted a commission of inquiry into the practices of Sserulanda Spiritual Movement led by Prof Nelson Ssewankambo.


The investigations were prompted by claims that the foundation preserves dead bodies and that it had established parallel administration structures on its 200 square miles of land. There were also claims the foundation had also enacted its own ordinances and by-laws. 


Although the details of the investigations were not made public, it later emerged that the Commission found that the foundation practiced strange practices such as preserving dead bodies, forcing all believers to drop their original names and become vegetarians.
 
 
The Commission also found that some people in the proposed area that would host the project were opposed to it for fear of losing their land. These and many other finding forced government to stop the project from going on as planned.


Now, URN has learnt that Benunura Eyenunula Nunumisa, the Executive Director of Sserulanda Foundation is in China to hold negotiations for the release of funds. Benjas Lonjas, the Ssesamirembe Project and Infrastructural Analyst, says Nunumisa has held several meeting with the Uganda and Chinese governments to secure the release of the funds for the project. 



Benjas also says they have sought additional funding from Abu Dhabi, United States of America and other countries to ensure the Free Trade Zone dream is implemented. He says unlike in Uganda where the project was sabotaged, Benjas says the same foundation has started implementing what is called Swambane Economic Corridor in Tanga region in Tanzania.


Benjas says they have already signed agreements to start constructing Tanga Hub, which will focus on value addition on goods and services. Our reporter found eight American nationals in the spiritual foundation base in Kabila, some of whom had stayed there since 1987 while others joined a few years ago. There are also dozens of Ugandan followers at the base.



Ajumpita Vioimo, an American national has stayed at the base since 1987. He her husband, Eritamo Lulive, also an American national joined the spiritual foundation recently and has since established a carpentry training center.
 
She says they would have been very far if government hadn't frustrated the implementation of the project. Ajumpita says they intended to focus on value addition.
 
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Vincent Ssemakula Ssetuba, the former Rakai LC V Chairman, who was at the fore front of promoting the project, says the district missed a lot of opportunities.
 

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About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.