By Our Reporter
The country is engulfed with sad news following the untimely demise of Francis Xavier Kitaka, one of Uganda’s leading businessmen and founder of Cipla Pharmaceutical Limited famously known as Quality Chemicals LTD.
Arrangements for his funeral and burial are yet to be communicated by family members.
Kitaka, 85, who was also the Managing Director and founder MTK LTD, who are manufacturers of human drugs, herbicides, pesticides and animal drugs, passed away on Saturday morning at his residence in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb, according to family sources, after battling cancer for a long time. MTK specializes in Animal health, Human health, Public health and Crop Protection.
Kitaka’s Shs1 Billion Veterinary Drugs Scandal
According to sources, although Kitaka reportedly died of cancer, he might as well have been killed by pressure he was enduring and the legal battles he was fighting over a scandal that involved veterinary drugs worth over Shs1Bn from Quality Chemicals which killed hundreds of government cattle last year.
Kitaka was arrested last year and remanded to Luzira Prison together with his other colleagues after drugs purportedly manufactured by Quality Chemicals were administered to cattle at government farms which all died.
The Anti-Corruption Court in August 2019 remanded three officials of MTK Uganda Limited, on corruption related charges.
Apart from Kitaka, the officials who were jailed were; Fiona Migadde Kitaka, the Chief Executive Officer MTK Uganda Limited and Dr. Francis Kitaka Jr, the Operations Manager and Commercial officer, Alex Natukunda.
The trio appeared before the Anti-Corruption Court Grade One Magistrate, Moses Nabendeh and were charged with causing financial loss to government, conspiracy to defraud and forgery have been read to them.
It was alleged that Dr. Kitaka, Natukunda and others still at large while in Kampala in June 2019 supplied 190,000 doses of fortivax (inactivated foot and mouth vaccine) worth Shillings 1,095,353,800 to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
They reportedly claimed the vaccine had been manufactured by Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI), which was false. According to prosecution, the action of the trio caused government a financial loss of more than Shs1 billion.
The money was reportedly received by Fiona Migadde Kitaka through her bank account in the defunct Barclays Bank from the Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Ministry after she falsely claimed to have supplied the said vaccine whereas not.
Prosecution also alleged that Natukunda and Dr. Kitaka and others still at large forged a Certificate of Analysis for Fortivax Batch number KO1423 dated April 11th, 2019 purporting the same had been issued by KEVAPI.
The State further asserted that the accused persons also with intentions to deceive the government of Uganda forged packaging boxes of the said vaccines claiming that the same had been made by KEVAPI.
The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges and applied for bail through their lawyer, Charles Semakula Muganwa. They argued that it’s their constitutional right to apply for bail and presented several sureties.
However, the Magistrate Nabendeh remanded them to Luzira Prisons until August 30th, 2019 when he would deliver his ruling on their bail application.
The State Prosecutor, Abigail Agaba told court that the investigations into the matter were incomplete.
The group, which was later granted bail, had been arrested by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit led by Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema.
However, at the time of Kitaka’s death, the Anti-Corruption Court had not yet issued judgment upon the case, reason why some people claim the pressure it had piled onto him further exacerbated his already frail health condition.
Who Is Kitaka
He was born in 1935, in a family of six siblings, to Celestino Mayambala Musoke and Monica Musoke.
He Kitaka attended Rubaga Primary School, starting in 1944. In 1948 Kitaka was admitted to Bukalasa Minor Seminary, but was expelled in 1950, for wearing bathroom sandals to Church.
The following year, 1951, he was admitted to Rubaga Boys’ Secondary School, where he sat his middle school examinations in 1952.
He joined St. Mary’s College Kisubi in 1952 and left in 1954 after sitting his O-Level examinations (Cambridge Ordinary School Certificate Examinations).
In 1955, he was admitted to the Faculty of Science at Makerere University for the intermediate course for two years. This was equivalent to Advanced Level (A Level) studies.
In 1957 Kitaka entered the Department of Veterinary Medicine, to study for the Diploma in Veterinary Medicine, which he obtained in 1958.
In 1961 he received a scholarship from the Government of Uganda to study Biochemistry at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. After graduation, Kitaka became the first African biochemist in East Africa.
In 1961, prior to his departure for Scotland for further studies, he worked at the Animal Health Research Centre in Entebbe.
While in Scotland, he worked at Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen for eight years, before returning to Uganda in 1968. Upon his return, he worked at the Tick Control Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, as an Entomologist. In 1972, Francis Kitaka joined Wellcome Uganda Limited, as the Sales Manager.
In 1989, Kitaka and two colleagues, Edward Martin and Randall Tierney, bought Wellcome East Africa Limited and renamed it Cooper Uganda Limited.
In 1994, they bought the building housing their offices and rebranded to MTK Holdings Limited, representing the first letter of each of their last names.
In 1997, with three more investors; George Baguma, Frederick Kitaka and Emmanuel Katongole, the group of six investors created Quality Chemicals Limited (QCL), a company whose initial objective was to import generic drugs, both veterinary and human into the country.
In 2003, the shareholders in QCL learned through the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda, that Cipla, the Indian pharmaceutical company was looking for a serious pharmaceutical company to partner with in Uganda.
They flew to India and signed partnership and marketing agreements. That was the beginning of the importation of Cipla-manufactured pharmaceuticals into Uganda.
They convinced Cipla to build a factory to manufacture ARVs in Uganda. QCL bought a piece of land in 2004 and on 3 September 2005, President Yoweri Museveni performed the ground breaking ceremony. The factory was commissioned in 2007.
The pharmaceutical plant is owned by a new entity called Quality Chemical Industries Limited, in which Cipla and Quality Chemicals Limited own equal shares.
Kitaka served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of QCIL from 2007 until November 2013.
In 2013, Cipla acquired majority shareholding in QCIL, and changed the name of the company to CIPLAQCIL. At that time the Chairmanship changed to Emmanuel Katongole while Kitaka remained a shareholder in the business venture.