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Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Land Owner Supports NGO Eviction

The closure was triggered by a misunderstanding between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches Limited and Captain Joseph Charles Roy who are the owners of the land where Rhinos are being bred on the one hand and Rhino Fund Uganda on the other.
23 Apr 2021 15:54
Captain Joseph Charles Roy the owner of the land where Ziwa Rhino Sanctaury is located.

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  The owners of the land in which Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located have asked court to dismiss an application seeking to stay the eviction of  the organization that has been operating on the facility.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, a home to 33 white endangered rhinos located in Nakasongola District  has been managed by Rhino Fund Uganda, a nongovernmental organization.  But a few days ago, it was closed to tourists and the public following a directive by Uganda Wildlife Authority to have it closed off following an attack.  

The closure was triggered by a misunderstanding between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches Limited and Captain Joseph Charles Roy who are the owners of the land where Rhinos are being bred on the one hand, and Rhino Fund Uganda on the other.

But following the closure coupled with an eviction notice giving Rhino Fund Uganda to vacate the premises by today April 23 2021, the NGO petitioned court seeking an interim order staying the eviction.

They argued that they will suffer irreparable damages if the order is not granted because the license given to them which was supposed to expire after thirty years effective 2002 was canceled in 2017 which amounts to breach of contract.

But while appearing before the Civil Division Registrar Jameson Karemani on Friday, the lawyers representing Rhino Fund Uganda led by Henry Kirunda asked to be given more time to respond to an affidavit from the owners of the land which was asking court to dismiss their application.

  The lawyers argued that it was raising serious allegations that they needed to respond to most especially by saying that the government has already taken over management at the area and therefore the application is overtaken by events.

According to an affidavit by Captain Joseph Charles Roy the owner of the 62 square kilometer piece of land, there is nothing left for the applicants on the premises as the status quo right now is that the Uganda Wildlife Authority took over way back in January when their license was cancelled.

  Captain Roy argues that Rhino Fund Uganda is currently a trespasser who have illegally gone ahead to construct chicken houses on his land and that there is no board resolution allowing the NGO to commence this suit. 

The evidence before court also shows that although the parties had signed a license of 30 years starting 2002, they decided to terminate it in 2017 and gave Rhino Fund Uganda two years notice to vacate. 

But after numerous interactions with President Yoweri Museveni, a Memorandum of Understanding-MoU was signed on September 18 2020 in an attempt to resolve disagreements between the parties. However, Captain Roy states that due to unwillingness of Rhino Fund Uganda, the MoU implementation was delayed for a year.

But they were compelled by the Tourism Ministry to implement the issue of amending the articles of Association of Rhino Fund Uganda and it was supposed to be done with participation of both parties. 

 

However, to their surprise, Rhino Fund Uganda allegedly instead registered a new private company contrary to the spirit of the MoU and allocated its Executive Director powers of the Chairman, the Treasurer, Secretary, Chief Executive Director, Accountant, Auditor which actions were not agreeable to the Ministry of Tourism as well as the respondents.

  According to Roy’s evidence, they later wrote to the Tourism Ministry to intervene and several mediation meetings were held and it was resolved on March 29th 2021 that among others Rhino Fund Uganda provides audited books of accounts to them, but in vain.

  Evidence further indicates that Rhino Fund Uganda asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before the audited books are released.

As such, it adds that the chairperson of the mediation clarified on some of the issues and demand of 100 percent gate entry was not agreed at the meetings and cannot therefore be implemented unless both parties agreed to do it that way.

  But instead, Captain Roy notes that the Rhino Fund Uganda still showed no interest in implementing the MOU. Roy adds that he informed the government to take over the sanctuary because of their behavior and he now wants the application dismissed with costs.

//Cue in: “Naye kyengamba bino…

Cue out:  amakati awo”. //

English Audio   

//Cue in: “The only reason…

Cue out: …RFU any more”. //.

The case is now fixed for a response from Rhino Fund Uganda at 4;30pm.

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