A multi-billion deal committing the country’s coffee subsector. Controversies. Twists and more turns. This seems like just the beginning of a multi-billion scandal, at the end of which Ugandans hope to have discovered the real owners of a company that signed a deal to monopolize the country’s coffee export.
According to a deal signed between Government of Uganda (GoU) and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd (UVCC), the latter party will first have its full quota before any other exporter is allowed to buy coffee.
Some of the other leading companies exporting Ugandan coffee include: UGACOF/Sucafina (Switzerland), KAWACOM/ECOM (Spain), OLAM (Singapore), TOUTON (South Africa & France), IBERO (Germany) and Louis Dreyfus (France).
The deal is also expected to see the investor establish a coffee processing plant at Kampala Industrial and Business Park, Namanve.
But who owns UVCC?
According to agreement signed between the company and GoU, two people signed for UVCC: Enrica Pinetti and Moses Matovu.
Pinetti, who is recorded as the UVCC Board Chairperson, signed as a witness. Matovu, the company secretary, also appended his signature as a witness.
While Finance Minister Matia Kasaija signed on behalf of GoU, nobody signed on behalf of UVCC.
So, is it Pinetti who owns UVCC or does this investor work with other ‘invisible’ people?
Pinetti is not new to controversy in Uganda’s investment confusion.
Just a few days ago, the Chairperson of the Finance Committee, Keefa Kiwanuka, advised Minister Kasaija to re-allocate the Shs319bn earmarked in the 2022/2023 for the International Specialised Hospital in Lubowa which project was supposed to be completed in two years but has since stalled..
The Butambala County MP, who is also the Shadow Minister of Finance, Muwanga Kivumbi, said that government has not yet provided evidence on value for the Shs348 billion that was allocated in the 2021/2022 financial year budget.
“The committee strongly feels that without proper justification, the Shs319 billion should not be allocated to Lubowa and it is money that Parliament should appropriate elsewhere,” said Muwanga Kivumbi.
Kasaija promised to provide a detailed statement on the status of the works but quickly added that the works were delayed by the Covid19 pandemic.
“The works were slowed down for two years because many of the experts working at the site returned to their countries. I also suggest that time is found and the MPs visit the site. It would be good for you to go there and see for yourself,” said Kasaija.
He added that the works were further affected by the disagreement between the developer and the contractor.
“I am not defending the developer but the contractor had a financial problem so they had to be terminated and another found,” said Kasaija.
In 2019, legislators together with the Minister of Health were blocked from accessing the site.
So, how did an investor who failed on such a vital project land such a juicy coffee deal? For now, more questions, fewer answers.