In a shocking turn of event, a $500million( approximately shs1.8trillion) pharmaceutical drug and mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Kigogwa, Matugga, in Wakiso District commissioned by President Museveni in 2020 has been put up for sale over debts.
The debt stems from a loan acquired by the company, Dei Biopharma Limited, formerly, Dei Natural Products International Limited.
“We have been duly instructed by our client, a financial institution which is the registered mortgagee to advertise and sale by public auction to recover the outstanding loan balance, our fees and other costs. The owner/ owners are hereby notified that unless full payment to our client is effected within 30 days from the date of this advert, the property shall be disposed of to recover our client’s money,” an advert from Kaweesi and Partners Advocates dated September, 14 reads in part.
The advert says the facility is located in an industrial zone in Matugga, Wakiso district.
It is said the company got funding from two local banks as well as Uganda Development Bank to fund the construction and importation hi-tech medical equipment and machines, as well as working capital support but has since failed to repay the money.
Other property up for sale
In the advert, several other properties owned by the company including a wheat milling plant in Luzira , a hospital in Kitende, residential houses in Muyenga, commercial property at Seguku and a weigh bridge station are all up for sale.
Plant launched three times
President Museveni first launched operations by Dei BioPharma on June 3, 2020 but a few years later, the facility had not begun production citing poor structural planning.
President Museveni once again visited and commissioned the facility with Kenyan counterpart William Ruto in 2021 with both leaders praising Uganda’s capacity to participate in the pathogenic economy.
Museveni said a revolution is taking place in Africa and in terms of biodiversity it is unrivalled.
“Pharmaceutical companies are in the right place here. My role is that I come from the traditional way to introduce you to the modern way and get synthesis. One of our scientists, Prof. Ogwang is producing something for Corona but it is not his, it’s for the community. There are so many things here. There is a lot of medicine in plants; we are just scratching the surface. This facility is at the right place at the right time,” he said.
Ruto said the investment is significant in three fundamentals ways including that Magoola, who is the brain behind the multibillion investment is an East African and a Ugandan.
“Ordinarily, investments of this magnitude have white faces. Ordinarily, it is people from Europe and America who engage in these investments. Congratulations to Magoola. We are proud of you as an East African that the language you are speaking of billions of dollars, we are domesticating it in our continent. It is new but we have champions like you who are daring to walk the journey to invest in the space and magnitude that we have witnessed,” he said.
The ceremony was attended by among others the Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Dr. Monica Musenero, Minister of State for Industry David Bahati, World Health Organization country representative Yonas Tegega Woldemariam, Dei Bio Pharmacy chairman Managing Director Mathias Magoola, Dei group Director Kellen Magoola, USA advisor Food and Drug Authority Prof Sarfaraz Niaz among others.
Last year on October, 20, President Museveni again commissioned the facility.
Speaks tough against those frustrating Magoola
Using the third event of commissioning, Museveni spoke tough against people he claimed were bent on frustrating Magoola, calling him a “fighter”
“I salute Magoola. Despite being persecuted, he stayed put. He is a fighter. Again, a new war started between him and the Indians whom he had teamed up with. They cheated him. I salute Magoola, his family and his colleagues because this is part of national resistance. We resist and stay on course. Now Magoola had to fight. Every African who wants to do something important neo-colonialist puppets fight him. They don’t see the value in important things,” Museveni said.
Magoola’s property was put up for sale only two months after Museveni commissioned it ( December 15, 2022).
Notices for the sale of the property were placed in both New Vision and Daily Monitor but it is not clear what happened later .
Early this year, Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija said government was ready to bail Magoola out.
Kasaijja who did not disclose the amount required said the government “must co-invest with Magoola because he is doing a wonderful job”.
A team of about ten ministers was then dispatched to tour the facility and deliver a report on whether it was feasible for the government to invest.
Magoola told the visiting ministers that he needed at least $600 million to complete the task at hand, adding that in five years, Uganda will have recouped $5 billion from revenues alone.
Parliament early this year committed shs70billion in this financial year’s budget to Dei Pharma Limited for the factory after he told the August House’s budget committee that he needed $1 billion( approximately 3.7 trillion).
This came amidst protests from opposition legislators led by Muwanga Kivumbi and Ssemujju Nganda who warned government that it was being fleeced.
“We submit that the consolidated fund shouldn’t be used as a lender to all non-bankable idea. If those projects are feasible, and worth supporting, there are many ways through which the government can support them. For instance, that money should be channeled through the Uganda Development Bank or Government can acquire shares in those ventures,” Muwanga said.
A scandal magnet?
Many analysts have come to torch into the character of Magoola, a little-known businessman who made headlines during the height of the Covid pandemic when he introduced an investor who claimed to have drugs to treat the deadly Coronavirus.
He has since been known for dwelling in flamboyance and scandal in equal coverage.
Magoola is known for driving the latest wheels in town and is proclaimed to be richer than the richest tycoons in Uganda. One thing, however, remains tagged onto his mysterious lifestyle- scandal.
Magoola walks and smells like scandal, but many have vouched for him, including President Museveni who dedicated a State of the Nation Address in 2021 to his favour, while former Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga would hold his name high up for everyone to see even in the dying embers of a village fire.
But like they say, there is no smoke without fire, Magoola has been pitched as someone who trouble finds seated and rests on his lap, he is a goddamn Christian, whose values encompass keeping quiet through it all and suffering persecution without benefit.
“People are fighting him, people are fighting him” is the involuntary evidence that has escaped the lips of both Museveni and Kadaga at all intervals, but is that all?
Magoola’s initial problems started when a huge sum of money, miraculously appeared on his bank accounts, the money was stopped by the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and he was summoned to explain himself.
Using the strings to power, Magoola let the dogs loose on officials of FIA, prompting a sacking for allegedly frustrating his “wonderful efforts”.
When he started the project at Matugga, Magoola contracted Mutoni construction company for Shs9.6 billion but a few months into the project, the two parties were in court over failure to pay.
Mutoni contractors said Magoola was beating about the bush regarding their payment of Shs4billion.
Magoola counter-argued that Mutoni constructors were involved in a breach of contractual terms and hence were not worth a dime anymore, he dismissed their grievances and political brouhaha.
Magoola is also engaged in litigation with former Minister Isaac Musumba on a dispute of shs268 billion.
In a judicial battle, Musumba had defended Dei Minerals International, whose clients sought US$241 million in damages (about shs700 billion).
According to documents, Magoola must pay Musumba shs268 billion as 30% of the agreed-upon amount that he and his Dei Minerals International company are anticipated to get from the UK-India-based Videocon Industries Ltd as compensation for breach of contract.