Rwanda:UTC Founder Ayabatwa: Rwandan Government Takes Over Shopping Mall

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The following release comes from Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, founder of the Union Trade Center:

Operators of Rwanda’s largest shopping mall, the Union Trade Centre (UTC) in Kigali, on Thursday charged the government with illegal seizure of the commercial hub.

Operators said that 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. The commercial hub is valued at $20 million (USD).

David Himbara, senior advisor 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. 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, Himbara said.

“During a speech on Sept. 28 in Toronto, the president of Rwanda touted his country’s efforts to encourage private investment,” Himbara said. “Then, just a few days later, his government seized one of Kigali’s largest privately owned and operated businesses.”

“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.”

“Why else would the government seize the UTC?” Ayabatwa asked. “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.”

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.

For more information about Ayabatwa, his businesses and his philanthropy, go to:

Media Contact:

David Himbara
[email protected]
+2772 614 2343