It has been around for over 75 years and manages a network of over 1,400 hotels and 90,000 employees, in 110 countries around the world, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel group is one of the largest hotel chains in the world.
In EastAfrica, it runs the Radisson Blu chain including Rwanda’s magnificent Kigali Convention centre. However, its plans to enter Uganda have started on the wrong note.
The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s Pearl of Africa Hotel- Quorvus Collection that is meant to open its doors in Uganda on April 27th is already embroiled in a sex abuse scandal, that has led to corruption allegations and the firing of Uganda’s Junior Minister for Labour Herbert Kibafunzaki.
The scandal has also brought to the fore, the influence of Sudanese-Ugandan Businessman Mohammed Hamid on the Top echelons of the Ugandan political establishment.
How it all started
It all started when Jamila Opondo an employee at the Pearl of Africa Hotel run to the Media, accusing a one Mohammed Hamid of sexually harassing her. Opondo told The Ugandan Observer Newspaper on Wednesday that Hamid is a “sex freak” who derives pleasure from abusing his workers.
“He treats workers as objects that you can play with and then throw away,” Opondo said.
Hamid is the owner of the building that will house the Rezidor Groups Pearl of Africa Hotel in its Quorvus Collection, and the arrangement is a partnership between his AYA group and Rezidor after an earlier one with Hilton Hotel fell through.
When Jamila Opondo ran to the Media to expose sexual abuse by her Boss, she said the Police had refused to help her because she was making allegations against ” A very powerful man”.
But when the Minister for Labour Herbert Kabafunzaki saw the allegations in the media, he rushed to the Pearl of Africa Hotel, called a meeting with the staff, and later met the Building owner Mohammed Hamid. In a subsequent Phone which Mohammed Hamid recorded, the Minister is heard offering to help Hamid kill the sex abuse allegations, and the next time we see the minister being arrested in a police operation. He was arrested with his assistant Brian Mugabo, and Mugabo has already pleaded guilty to charges of corruption.
Hamid says the Minister asked him for a 25 million shillings bribe (6800 USD) which they bargained down to 10 million shillings (2700 USD). He then called the President and told him the whole story, the President Yoweri Museveni asked Hamid to Co-operate with Police. Leading to the arrest of the Minister at the Kampala Serena Hotel, the Minister was yesterday evening fired from Cabinet as he battles corruption charges at the Anit-corruption court.
But the charges against the Minister Hebert Kabafunzaki has blinded the sex abuse scandal that started it all, and the story Jamila Opondo and other employees of AYA group tell about their Boss Hamid.
When contacted for a comment on the scandals its Business partner is involved in, the NASDAQ listed Carlson Rezidor Hotel group said ”The Ugandan authorities are in the process of investigating the allegations raised surrounding Mr Mohammed Hamid. Carlson Rezidor is cooperating with the authorities. We are not able to provide any further information at this point”
Who is Mohammed Hamid
Mohammed Hamid was born in 1976 and spent his childhood years in Sudan. He was raised by his older brother Mohammad El-Hamid Mohammad who is said to have been an influential businessman in Sudan but he fled to Uganda when Omar-el-Bashir ascended to power in June 1989.
He set up a commodities importation business and, a few years later, he was joined by Hamid. However, in 1997, Hamid broke away and ventured on his own. He then set up the Aya brand through which he pursued various business interests.
His business concerns (some of which have closed shop) include AYA Mining, which is supposed to be a gold mining facility; Aya Biscuits in Kawempe; Pan Afric Commodities Ltd; Fifi Transport Uganda Ltd and Aya Bakery (U) Ltd.
He is also close to the President of Uganda, who has taken it upon himself to defend him against his Enemies, imaginary and real including the Media which he has vowed to sort out for writing against Mohamed Hamid.