We have just been told that UTC shopping mall has been taken over by the government of Rwanda. Operators said ” the Rwandan government’s Commission of Abandoned Properties informed all UTC tenants in a letter dated Oct. 1 to deposit their rent into the Commission’s bank account, effective immediately”.
The UTC, which opened in 2006, is home to 81 shops, restaurants and other retail establishments and is valued at $20 million (USD). David Himbara, senior adviser to UTC Founder Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, accused the Rwandan government of orchestrating a “hostile takeover” of one of the country’s most successful private businesses.
it is said that the government is claiming that the mall is an abandoned property because Ayabatwa, who is also the UTC’s largest shareholder, lives in South Africa.
Our source gathered that Ayabatwa is a native Rwandan and successful Pan African businessman with interests throughout the continent in tobacco, cement, snack foods, tea, real estate and banking. He has invested millions of dollars in the Rwandan economy, provided scholarships to students, and financed a local school, day care centre and housing development.
“How does a government instruct a private company’s tenants to deposit their rent into a government account without providing any legal recourse?” Himbara asked. “It is unconscionable.”
Ayabatwa said the government is essentially telling the world that Rwanda is “not open for business.”
“This is a government that has said it wants to reduce its dependency on foreign aid and grow its private sector. This is a very dangerous move and sends a terrible message to current and future investors.”
During a speech on Sept. 28 in Toronto, the president of Rwanda touted his country’s efforts to encourage private investment, few days later, his government seized one of Kigali’s largest privately owned and operated businesses.
We are yet to hear from the side of the government, meanwhile, Operators of Rwanda’s largest shopping mall, the Union Trade Centre (UTC) in Kigali, on have today, Thursday 3rd October charged the government with illegal seizure of the commercial hub. We wait to see how the story unfolds.