Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The rot Kazibwe presided over is now exposed

I broke the story of ex-VP Specioza Wandira Naigaga Kazibwe's mess at the Microfinance support center. The center was really a repository of poor governance and financial theft. IGG eventually took over investigations spearheaded by one of the Inspectorate's level headed Director of Ombudsman Affairs. I have landed on the final report which the IGG Raphael Baku has taken years to sign not alone read it. The report pins Kazibwe and exposes some dubiousness in the whole institution. Read the executive summary below as presented by the IGG:

The Inspectorate of Government received allegations of mismanagement at the Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) Ltd wherein it was alleged that:
1.     Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali lacked the requisite academic qualifications for the job of Deputy Executive Director (DED) and that he specifically lacked qualifications equivalent to a first degree, Diploma, Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education.
2.    The Board of Directors irregularly created a position of a second Deputy Executive Director to accommodate Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali, a former member of the Board of Directors who had been beaten in the interviews for the position of Deputy Executive Director.
3.    It was further alleged that the Board of Directors of the Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) appointed Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali a Deputy Executive Director (DED) irregularly without following the relevant guidelines. It was also alleged that the Board, without justifiable cause, sent the Executive Director, Mr. Charles Byanyima on forced leave for four months and then appointed the irregularly recruited Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali, as Acting Executive Director despite his lack of qualifications.
4.    When Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali was appointed a Deputy Executive Director (DED) he was supposed to serve a probation period of six months but only served for three months and he was confirmed.  The Board then hurriedly amended the Human Resource manual as a means of covering up the irregularity. Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali, the acting Executive Director was formerly a member of the Board of Directors and the Board irregularly recruited him to serve their personal interests.
5.    The procurement of Consultancy Services for Risk Assessment at the Microfinance Support Centre Ltd did not follow procurement procedures because the chairperson had personal interest in the matter. It was further alleged that she had fronted her Company M/s Concave International Ltd to do the work which management rejected. When management rejected the idea, she threatened to resign and thereafter as a compromise, the consultancy was awarded to her business associate Ms. Elizabeth Kalembe and Mr. John Baptist Lwanga. It was also alleged that her son Mr. Julian Kiiza was among the consultants.
6.    The Board of Directors held unnecessary meetings at the company every month for purposes of drawing allowances. It was further alleged that the Board had a full-time office at the MSC offices in Kololo with the chairperson sitting there at least once every week.  And that the chairperson was drawing allowances of 500,000/= (Five hundred  thousand shillings) every day she would step in  the office as a Board member even when she would simply come to office to check for her personal mails or do private work. In addition to that the chairperson was allocated a company vehicle with a driver and fuel which she was using for her personal work.
7.    The Board of Directors of MSC Ltd was conducting itself in an improper manner and transacting Board business yet it was improperly constituted.

Investigations were initiated on account of the aforementioned allegations and the following findings were made:
1.     Mr.Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali indeed lacked the requisite academic qualifications for the position of Deputy Executive Director and Executive Director and his Masters Degree from Kampala International University was irregularly awarded. The Board of Directors did not carry out due diligence to ascertain the validity of the academic qualifications of Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali before appointing him  despite the red flag highlighted by the Consultants from Uganda Management Institute (UMI) in their report.

2.    The Board of Directors of MSC mismanaged the recruitment process of the Deputy Executive Director in the following ways:
a)       The recruitment method of “Head hunt” adopted by the Board was not provided for in the Human Resource Manual at the time of the recruitment although later it was provided for by the same Board. It also contradicted the general policy of transparency inherent in open competition.
b)       Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali, a former member of the Board, was recruited as the Deputy Executive Director before he resigned his position as a Board member creating conflict of interest. This conflict of interest was apparent in the fact that Rwabukuku continued to attend key Board meetings where decisions about the recruitment process were made even after he had made a written application for the position of Deputy Executive Director.
c)       The Board created the second position of Deputy Executive Director deliberately to accommodate one of their own Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali who had been beaten in the interviews by Mr. Wilson W.Wamatsembe. It is our considered view that the creation of the position of second Deputy Executive Director was not done in good faith. It is likely, given the Board’s obvious interference in what should have been management matters, that the Board wanted Rwabukuku on the management team simply as a means of exerting more control over MSC after their proposal to be made into an Executive Board was rejected. Independent decision making at managerial level was already suffering due to the Board’s over-bearing approach.
d)       The Board ignored key evidence of Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali’s ineligibility even after the UMI consultants had pointed out that he did not have a Bachelors Degree and ended up engaging someone without requisite qualifications. This was most likely an intentional oversight meant to serve the Board’s own interests.
e)       In what appeared to be a premeditated scheme by the Board to exert more control over day to day management at MSC, they immediately appointed Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali who was their colleague on the Board as Acting Executive Director notwithstanding the fact that he lacked managerial experience, he was the second best in the interviews, and had no requisite academic qualifications for the job.
f)       Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali was appointed to the position of Acting Executive Director when he was still on probation contrary to Section 5.8(b) of the Human Resource manual which provides that “Only confirmed staff are eligible for acting appointments.”
g)       When the position of Executive Director fell vacant, it should have been advertised, internally or externally to allow for competition in view of the fact that both of the Deputy Directors were newly appointed.
3.  Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali’s interest in the position of Deputy Executive Director was not declared and never resigned as a member of the Board. He participated in Board meetings that made vital decisions regarding the position for which he was applying. His failure to excuse himself strongly suggested that he took advantage of his position on the Board and as such benefited from this position of trust and was therefore in conflict of interest. This contravened Section 9(1) & (2) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009 which provides that;
(1)          An employee, or a  member of a public Body, public company or public undertaking who, in course of his or her official duties, deals with a matter in which he or she or his or her immediate family has a direct or indirect interest or is in a position to influence the matter directly or indirectly and he or she knowingly, fails to disclose the nature of that interest and votes or participates in the proceedings of that body, company or undertaking, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years or a fine not exceeding two hundred and forty currency points or both.
(2)          Conflict of interest shall arise where the person referred to in subsection (1)-
(a)      deals with a matter in which he or she has personal interest and where he or she is in a position to influence the matter directly or indirectly, in the course of his or her official duties;
(c)      participates in the deliberations of a public body, board, council, commission or committee, of which he or she is a member at any meeting at which any matter in which he or she has personal interest is to be discussed.
4.       The procurement of Consultancy Services for the Risk Assessment at the Microfinance Support Centre Ltd did not comply with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and Regulations, 2003. Under the PPDA Act and Regulations, a procurement of this magnitude (UGX 78,920,000/=) should have been advertised under Open Domestic bidding procedures. However, this was not the case; instead Direct Procurement/sole sourcing was used. In the event that MSC had reasons to deviate from the normal procurement procedures they should have applied for approval of the deviation from the PPDA Authority as provided  under Section 339 of PPDA Regulations, 2003. Section 339 of PPDA Regulations provides that, “a deviation from the use of procurement or disposal method or documents under these regulations may be permitted by the Authority-
(a)  Where exceptional requirements make it impossible, impractical or uneconomical to comply with these Regulations;
(b) Where market conditions or behavior do not allow effective application of these Regulations; or
(c)  For specified or particular requirements that are regulated or governed by harmonized international standards or practices.”
Section 340(1) of PPDA Regulations, 2003 further provides that, “an application for deviation from the use of a procurement or disposal method or document shall be submitted to the Authority in writing”.
Our investigations confirmed that no application for the waiver was sought from the Authority.

   5.    Failure to comply with the provisions of the PPDA Act and Regulations means that the procurement of Consultancy Services for the Risk Assessment by the Microfinance Support Centre Ltd was devoid of transparency and fair competition contrary to the PPDA  Act section 45 and 46. Section 45 of the PPDA Act provides that “All procurement and disposal shall be conducted in a manner which promotes transparency, accountability and fairness”. While Section 46 provides; “Subject to this Act, all procurement and disposal shall be conducted in a manner to maximize competition and value for money”. It therefore goes without saying that value for money might not have been achieved.
  6.     The Contracts Committee erred in awarding the contract to Ms. Kalembe without either subjecting the process to open competitive bidding or a waiver from the PPDA Authority in the case of direct procurement. The contract was therefore not only illegal but could not be assessed to determine value for money. The Contracts Committee and in particular the Committee Chairperson and Secretary therefore abdicated their functions when they caused an irregular award of contract to Ms. Elizabeth Kalembe.
   7.  It was also established that the consultant who carried out the Risk Assessment Ms. Elizabeth Kalembe had previously worked with one Mr. John Baptist Lwanga who turned out to be a business associate to Dr. Speciosa N.K Wandira in M/s Concave International. Dr. Speciosa N.K Wandira’s son Mr. Julian Kiiza was also found to have worked as a Research Assistant for Ms. Kalembe’s consulting team. When queried about these links Dr. Speciosa N.K Wandira stated that Mr. John Baptist Lwanga worked with Ms. Elizabeth Kalembe as an individual Consultant and no revenue accrued to M/s Concave International Ltd from the Consultants. She also emphasized that her son was an adult and she could not influence his actions.  Despite the fact that there was no evidence that Dr. Speciosa N.K Wandira exerted pressure on the Contracts Committee to flout procurement procedures, it was too much of a coincidence that the consulting company which was brought on board outside procurement procedures just happened to have her business partner and son among its staff. It is also pertinent to note that all of this occurred after Dr. Wandira had expressed interest in undertaking the consultancy herself at an earlier point until she was advised against it. It is therefore very likely that the choice of consultant was a result of undue influence by the Board. Ms. Kalembe’s consultancy contract was also found to have been awarded in contravention of Article 9(g) of the MSC Articles of Association due to the fact that it was executed with the assistance of a business associate of the Board Chairperson along with a son of the Board Chairperson.

8.    The Memorandum and Articles of Association of MSC specify a minimum of at least one meeting per quarter implying that the frequency of meetings to be held are decided upon by the Board depending on the volume of work/ business before the Board thus there is no maximum limit of the number of Board meetings that can be held in a quarter. There was therefore no manifest irregularity in the frequency of Board meetings.

9.  The Board involvement in routine management activities like the preparation of the Strategic Plan, Critical Path Analysis and Human Resource Manual, among others, caused the managers at MSC to form the perception that the Board was interfering with their work. Indeed the Board was working as if they were fulltime employees of the company. The Board was no longer steering policy but was essentially managing MSC and taking executive decisions. A clear example of this is when the Board initiated the process of recruitment of a consultant for the Risk Assessment study. While management was amenable to Board guidance which included a review of the Company Strategic Plan and Manuals, Critical Path Analysis, it is clear that the Board overstepped its roles and responsibilities and actually re-invented itself as an Executive Board. This state of affairs is probably what led to a standoff between senior managers and the Board at the time that this investigation was launched.
10.     The frequency with which the Board Chairperson made claims for allowances   on   account of work allegedly done for MSC was unusually high to say the least. For example between the months of August 2009 to November 2009 the Board Chairperson collected allowances between 7.5 to 9.4 Million shillings per month. In the said period she claimed allowances for 53 activities she allegedly carried out on behalf of MSC and out of those the Inspectorate of Government found funds in respect of only 12 of the said activities to have been properly accounted for. The payments made to her in any given month by way of allowances rivaled that of some of the highest paid managers at MSC which begs the question as to whether the Chairperson’s role had not essentially become managerial or whether the Chairperson was deliberately interfering in what would ordinarily be MSC managerial duties for financial gain. This suspicion is further strengthened by the fact that the Chairperson could not provide adequate accountabilities in the form of reports or minutes of meetings to prove that the allowances paid to her were actually for MSC work. When queried, Dr. Wandira submitted some reports, concept papers, and minutes to corroborate her claims. Dr. Wandira’s accountabilities were analyzed and found to cater for only Twenty Million, Three Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand and Eighteen Uganda Shillings (UGX 20,375,018/=) out of a total of Seventy-Eight Million, Six Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand and Eighteen Shillings (UGX 78,675,018/=)  leaving a total of Fifty-Eight Million, Three Hundred Thousand Shillings Only (UGX 58,300,000/=) as monies claimed but not properly accounted for.
11.     The Board acted irregularly to allocate an MSC operations vehicle and an office to the Chairperson of the Board - Dr. Speciosa N.K Wandira, because this is not provided for in the Memorandum and Articles of Association neither was this among the terms and conditions of her appointment. As a Chairperson of the Board she did not require a vehicle and an office because her role was not expected to be of a full-time nature. MSC resources were therefore irregularly allocated to the detriment of routine MSC operations.
12.   The Board Members and Chairperson were never approved by the Annual General Meeting of shareholders after the expiry of their first term of office. Their re-appointment process was not yet legally complete. The letter by the Hon. Minister declaring the intention to re- appoint them for another term of three (3) years  remained merely an intention to be effected through the shareholders at their Annual General Meeting.


In light of the findings above, it is hereby recommended that:

1.    Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku Musaali should show cause to the Inspectorate of Government why he should not be prosecuted for acting in conflict of interest contrary to Section 9 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2009 when he failed to excuse himself from Board proceedings concerning a job for which he had already expressed interest.

2.    The appointment of Mr. Iggy Rwabukuku as Executive Director should be terminated since he does not have the requisite academic qualifications for the position.

3.    The position of Executive Director should be advertised and subjected to   open competition to attract qualified persons to the position.

4.    The second position of Deputy Executive Director should be reviewed by management of MSC and a new Board of Directors given the fact that it appeared to have been created to accommodate Rwabukuku as opposed to practical necessity.

5.    Given the improprieties perpetrated by the former Board of MSC, a new Board be appointed to replace the previous Board. The new Board should also be advised to adhere to their stipulated functions and leave the day to day administration of MSC to the managers.

6.    The members of the Contracts Committee that awarded the illegal contract for the Risk Assessment study without following PPDA guidelines should be cautioned for their conduct and advised to desist from such malpractices in the future.

7.    The Memorandum and Articles of Association of MSC should be reviewed by the shareholders in order to clearly delineate the functions of the Board against those of the executive managers of MSC so as to avoid undue recurrence of Board involvement in management functions.

8.    The Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development should require Dr. Speciosa N.K Wandira to either fully account for the monies remaining unaccounted for amounting to the sum of UGX 58,300,000/= within one month from the date of receipt of this report or to make immediate arrangements to refund the same to MSC.
9. The Human Resource Manual of MSC should be reviewed to remove those provisions that limit transparency and open competition without proper justification such as the provision for “head hunt” method of recruitment.

10. Kampala International University should recall and revoke the Master’s Degree erroneously awarded to Mr. Rwabukuku to stop him from wrongfully benefiting from its entitlements.

11. NCHE should establish a programme of periodic inspection of admissions to Universities to ensure that minimum standards set for admissions are complied with.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A case for IGG Baku’s impeachment

The NRM Caucus at Kyankwanzi squarely laid blame on civil servants as the orchestrators of grand corruption. As a solution, the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi is pushing an agenda to give contracts to bureaucrats. I frown at such a line of thinking on two fronts: First, the civil servants are corrupt because they have seen and are supervised by a notoriously corrupt political class. It’s therefore, reasonable that political corruption is tackled first so that they [politician] can claim moral authority to fight corrupt civil servants. Otherwise, it’s unfashionable for a thief to try to dissuade others from stealing. 
Secondly, giving contracts to civil servants is akin to the structural adjustment program of the 1990’s when several civil servants were retrenched to allow the political class to employ people of their choice. Northerners and easterners lost out miserably and still remain at the periphery of the government bureaucracy. This contracts thing appears to be a move to weed out perceived anti-NRM civil servants. It must be resisted.
Fast forward: Uganda has got the office of the IGG meant to be lead the fight against graft. It has failed. One of the problems is the man called Raphael Baku, the acting IGG. He is unfit to even seat next to a real IGG, if you ask me.
Here is why? He has no charisma. He has no character. He is a schemer, pure and simple. Hang on please. This guy is now in the middle of a scandal. Posta Uganda dubiously wanted to sell off land near Postel building in Kampala. Mr Baku heard about it and he wrote to Posta asking why the land was being sold without following proper procedures. Within 24 hours, Baku changed his mind and became interested in the land. He asked Posta boss, one shrewd man called Arinaitwe to remove it from the public domain and sell it to IGG.
Baku and Arinaitwe agreed on a fee of Sh5billion without going through the contracts committees of both IGG and Posta. Posta's board hadnt even known about the transaction but Baku immediately orders payment of Sh2.8billion. More over Posta had not done the valuation of the land. Instead Baku followed it up. By the time the IGG paid a deposit, the certificate of title had not been separated meaning that Baku was buying the empty land including the building housing the Office of the Prime Minister. By the time the IGG does all this, does he still qualify to spearhead the fight against corruption?  Obviously, no. Why did he get interested in the land without making it public? Was there any pecuniary interest? There is a very reason to suspect. Why did he let Posta ignore procurement rules? If Baku can ally with Arinaitwe who has a host of management issues at Posta, does he still have the moral authority to listen to complaints from Posta employees who would feel mistreated by Arinaitwe?
Secondly, Baku is a flop as a leader. As you read this, one of the most experienced officers at the Inspectorate, Ms Susan Bisharira, the director Leadership Code, has declined to have her contract renewed because she can’t take Baku’s confusion any more. Bisharira is a straight talker who even qualifies to become the IGG having worked with the Institution since its inception. But because Baku is a failed politician and job seeker, who, follows no rules, senior officials are opting to quit the Inspectorate.
Baku does not even read reports submitted to him. He only signs those he has interest in. Most of the work is done by his personal assistant one Simon Kajura Ogwal, whose understanding of the law appears wanting. This is how Baku ended up sanctioning a case against Quality Chemicals even when he knew that there was no case. He said the firm would be prosecuted just to shame them. Did we hire Baku to shame without evidence? Isn’t this gross incompetence, a ground on which the IGG can be fired? Where are serious MPs here?
Baku’s approach is a mockery of the fight against corruption. Because of his incompetence, we now have a former VP Gilbert Bukenya walking with his head high that he is not corrupt even when the public does not believe so. Baku opted to rush Bukenya to court without any evidence.
Thirdly, Baku received Sh930million as supplementary budget to investigate Chogm. Did he need all that money? Wasn’t Chogm investigation within the mandate of the IGG’s ordinary schedule? Only half of this money was used. And the accountability included payment of honorarium and additional duties. Surely wasn’t this double payment? I am glad that the police have gotten hold of the payment vouchers. I hope they see the senselessness in Baku and charge him. He should also be charged for spending money in bogus foreign trips with his cowboy personal assistant. I hear next month, they are headed to the US on a spending spree. Instead of supervising prosecutors who lose cases in court, Baku is always hunting for a travelling opportunity. He has concentrated on prosecution as his only mandate as IGG ingnoring the adherence to the Leadership code and the Ombudsman role which would save thousands of people from poor governance. To be a performer according to Baku, one must show how many cases they have taken to court. This is meant to hoodwink the public that he is working. His cadres only end up prosecuting primary school teachers and parish chiefs without proper academic papers. Surely, is that the way graft should be fought?  Lastly, shouldn’t police ask Baku to explain how he acquired a house he recently moved into in Kiwatule? It’s estimated at Sh700million. How did he get the money? Baku needs to be subjected to the same dose of fire he gives other people.
For his incompetence in handling the Bukenya case, Quality Chemicals and the now dubious Posta land, any sensible appointing authority or parliament, would ask Baku to try is schemes elsewhere not at an office of such magnitude. Impeach the failure.

Friday, 23 December 2011

How individual merit killed Uganda’s collective spirit

Back in those good old days, Christmas was not as glamorous in Uganda as it is today. There were no mobile phones and no Facebook. And there were no Harriers, Premios, Rav4 and not even the now very common Ipsum.
Coming from a peasant family, I remember Christmas as a day my siblings and I anticipated to eat rice and meat, probably get some new second hand clothes after selling our chicken or sometimes goats. The village belles would treat their hair in a crude way—literally burn it using some perforated metallic stuff in which burning charcoal was put. After enduring real heat which sometimes burnt them, the babes would emerge with soft and darkened hair. Dude! They would look hot. And usually, Christmas would coincide with moonlight. The brief freedom parents gave children to mix at night, provided us the young ones the opportunity to ‘celebrate’ Christmas. There would be jukebox and wow, your guess is as good as mine.
But one thing still stands out. Christmas was a prolonged celebration. It would last two months, at least in Teso. The trick was that several households in the village would prepare to host each other. There was a lot of ajon [local gin]. Goats were in abundance and every family would slaughter them to celebrate Christmas. It was also a time households which had issues would sort them out before the New Year; for if you didn’t make up with those you hurt as a family, no one would honour your invitation to celebrate Christmas. And going it solo, would earn you a reputation of being the most selfish [lo’ebit] in the village.
A sense of sharing was in abundance. A sense of community was not betrayed.   In our peasantry, there was abundance of collective spirit.  Those are also the same days when a teacher was a person of honour, who if you disrespected them, would cause your parents serve your buttocks with enough raids. Today, in my same village in Teso, this sense of community is a thing of the past. It goes beyond Teso; it’s now a Ugandan culture.
So how did we arrive at this?  Individual merit has brought us thus far. When President Museveni captured power in 1986, the message was unity; a fundamental change. The gospel was preached to the extent that many Ugandans are now guilty of failing to fathom that it was a superfluous message geared at destroying the social fabric that held Uganda as a unit.  The NRM rode on the wheel of deceit so fast that it even blindfolded the intellectuals. As the peasants opposed the sale of Uganda Airlines, the destruction of Coffee Marketing Board, Lint Marketing Board, the cooperative unions, labour unions; the intellectuals argued it away and branded those opposed to the events as reactionaries. The intellectuals helped entrench the selfish motive of the new leaders under the fertile imagination that an open economy would benefit all.
President Museveni hoodwinked multiparty believers beginning with DP’s best brains that he had ushered in a broad-based government. In fact he asked DP to give him names of its best brains to help in building the broad based regime. That time saw  Dr Paul Ssemogerere lead DP’s good brains like Kisamba Mugerwa, Ssebaana Kizito, John Kakooza, Adoko Nekyon [ he later crossed to UPC], Wasswa Ziritwaula and Dr Specioza Kazibwe, just to name a few; to join the ‘broad-based’ regime.
UPC hardliners stayed away thus attracted the ridicule of Museveni. Later some UPC leaders like Richard Kaijuka, Ephraim Kamuntu etc. joined the NRM politics, ostensibly to oppose it from within. The late UPC President Milton Obote warned that joining Museveni would mean an endorsement of the latter’s plan to ‘destroy’ the country. However, after tapping DP’s brains, Mr Museveni discarded them and announced that multi-party politics was disruptive, therefore; not tenable. He later again reverted to it, only after realising that he had done enough to confuse the Ugandan mindset not to cherish public good.   Parties served to keep people together as a group.
NRM had to dismantle them first to kill that spirit of standing together to push for a cause. The agenda of a party mobilized people together. But NRM made most Ugandans imagine that individual exploits was the way to go. And examples of individuals who gained a lot were many. By the time parties were allowed to operate, the spirit of cohesion had long been ruined hence the current squabbles rocking the Opposition.
Unknown to most Ugandans was the fact that state resources were either diverted or out rightly stolen to benefit individuals at the expense of public service. Slowly, hospitals collapsed; then followed the schools and the roads.  Everything now is in pieces.  But a few individuals stand out controlling economic empires. They, however, cannot provide the basic social infrastructure yet the state resources still mainly end up with individuals, who having seen the folly of believing in the state, have opted to serve self-interests. So relegated is the sense of community that even if a dog died in the middle of the road, no one would bother throw it—everyone would endure the stench—because  everyone is waiting for the nonexistent government organ to throw it away. No one cares to ask why the health center nearby is mismamaged. And If you are knocked on the way, chances are that you would find no Good Samaritan or you would not be attended to at the hospital because you are not among the ‘Who is Who?”  Road carnage is rising partly because every driver feels they are on the road on individual merit.
The economy is suffering partly because the Cooperative Unions that used to bring people together to discuss and get a common solution to their economic woes are long dead. It’s now a reign of individual merit. Those in public offices used them for personal gain because it’s now individual merit philosophy. The private sector is poorly management because the entrepreneurs think they are what they are on individual merit while the employees believe they are employed on individual merit, ‘so what is in it for me?”  Good for all philosophy like it was in my village is no longer there. But shall we get out of this? Yes. But first change the philosophy and the value system. Individual merit just cant sort us out.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Health services collapse as officials eat big

A struggle over power and on who gains from big money deals has derailed the delivery of services at the Health ministry after senior bureaucrats split into two antagonistic groups.
The acrimony has attracted the attention of State House that has directed that thorough investigations be done.
My investigation reveals that instead of fighting to revitalise the collapsed health care delivery, the officials engage in drafting projects and seeking financing for activities which most often were not done.
The result of the factionalism in the ministry is that projects meant to deliver services to the public unravel even before they kick off while money meant for them is swindled.
Already, some officials have refunded Sh450million out of the Sh600million they had reportedly obtained to implement yellow fever awareness campaign in the North, a project, senior bureaucrats say was a rip-off.
The officials did not conduct the yellow fever vaccination and awareness but instead colluded with district health inspectors to mobilise villagers who were given Sh10.000 each for attending “a workshop.”
“They had created an activity which is fiction,” said Dr Asuman Lukwago, the permanent secretary, “the principal officer, Mr Kafuko, who generated the requisition was suspended and some were warned.”
But some insiders allege that the project unraveled because some big shots needed a cut which they didn’t get.
The suspension of the said officers has fed into the mood of mutual suspicion in the ministry with Commissioner for planning Dr Francis Runumi reportedly leading a faction of the old staff while Dr Lukwago commands the new entrants.
It now obtains in the ministry that neither group relies upon the other to function correctly thus increasing the already poor delivery of health care services. In some health units, the medics receive drugs and tack it away instead of dispensing to patients, a move seen as sabotage of the new officials.
Dr Lukwago said on Wednesday that the new staff could be perceived negatively because “what we need is to interrupt wastage and improve service delivery.” However, some staff believe they were victims of Dr Lukwago’s autocracy.
Dr Runumi said: “In any organisation, when there is change, those who are in the system want to study new people and the new people do the same. But we have adjusted and things are beginning to work well.”
Dr Achieng, Dr Lukwago and Dr Christine Ondroa, the minister, are some of the new faces at the helm.
The permanent secretary is accused of colluding with the Director General of health services, Dr Ruth Achieng and the head of the Drug Monitoring Unit in President’s office, Dr Diana Atwine to intimidate and injure reputations of officials noncompliant to their personal interests. Both deny the allegations.
“They are just branding us but we insist that whatever little money gets to health from government, let it do something,” Dr Atwine said.
As a result of internal strife, some staff have separately petitioned the Inspectorate of government and President office to investigate Dr Lukwago and other officials’ work methods. They allege that fight over lucrative contracts and kickbacks define work at the ministry and shifted the doctors’ focus from clinical and public health work to fixing deals.
According to letters, copies of which this newspaper has seen, Dr Lukwago is accused of bullying other technocrats while invoking the powers of State House.
“I have received the letter [from State House] and we have replied to it,” Dr Lukwago said, “Some of the complaints in the letters were known to us.”
Incompetence or theft?
Dr Runumi, is accused of failing to account for Sh1.5billion he received to prepare the health insurance bill. Sources say State House has asked that within two weeks, the accountability must be presented to the PS but Dr Runumi said on Wednesday that he had nothing to account.
“Accountability is held centrally by the office of the PS. No Shs1.5billion was associated to the health insurance bill; we used to get Shs800 per year,” he said.
Dr Atwine, however, said the ministry reeks poor accountability.  “For instance, out of Sh1.4billion meant for car repairs, they have only accounted for Sh199million,” she said.
She also disclosed that while initially money was sent to districts to buy drugs but was diverted, the schemers have also learnt to divert drugs and forge accountability.
“ In Mubende, a medical officer took a book for drugs to his home and forged names of patients,” Dr Atwine said, “He told us the drugs had been taken to a private clinic by his bosses yet he had to account; he said sorry and let us to the clinic where we recovered the drugs.”
While the bureaucrats fight for the control of projects, the ministry is planning to demolish hundreds of theatres it constructed in health center IVs because they were unfit for medical operations. Sources say the theatres are substandard because the ministry’s engineering unit took big cuts from the contractors who then compromised the standards and design of the theatres.
“Some theatres were constructed 10 years ago but have never been used because they were built poorly. We are going to demolish some,” Dr Lukwago said.
Sources told this blogger that several officials in the ministry were on rampage picking anything that gives them money.  And at the ministry’s mechanical workshop in Wabigalo, Kampala, at least 18 car engines were stolen as government vehicles were vandalised. Dr Lukwago has also had to forcefully recover vehicles parked in officials’ residences yet several health units had not means of transport.
The health ministry commands the largest fleet mainly four-wheeled fuel guzzlers. Some officials assigned them to their spouses.
Although Dr Lukwago confirmed the theft of car engines, he said: “We are building up cases before prosecuting the culprits.”
Because of the cocktail of issues in the ministry, several government agencies including the IGG have opened up investigations. On forgery of receipts, some drivers have so confided in the investigators that their bosses often sent them to pick receipts at Nkurumah Road, a commercial printing center in the city, to help in the false accountability. Effectively, this would mean most activities were never conducted.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Why Catholic Bishops want Mbabazi, Onek to step aside

The Catholic Episcopal Conference has come out to demand that ministers named in the alleged oil bribery should step aside. The ministers implied in clergy’s statement are Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Internal Affairs minister Hillary Onek.
The two ministers have defied a parliamentary resolution that asked them to take leave from parliament until investigations into the allegations against them are concluded.  However, the story behind the clergy’s demand for transparency from government in regard to oil management is as interesting and dramatic as Ugandan politics can be.
The object of the clergy’s statement read by the Chairman of the Episcopal Conference, Archbishop John Baptist Odama is one man called Amama Mbabazi. And it boils down to the Mbabazi war against former VP Gilbert Bukenya.
This is how the statement was arrived at. After Bukenya got bail and left Luzira prison last month, he called President Museveni to inform him that he was going to compete for his Busiro North seat which he had lost through a court verdict.
But Bukenya was bold. He told Museveni that he was going to campaign as an Independent candidate because Mbabazi was doing all he could to fight him out of the party. Museveni was shocked by his former number two’s position to leave the party.
And knowing that the Luzira experience had earned Bukenya sympathy which would translate into victory, Museveni asked Bukenya to see him. Apparently, Museveni did not want Bukenya in parliament on an Independent ticket as that was tinker with the NRM dynamics in parliament. Bukenya would have no political obligation to agree with the government position in parliament even if he would still profess sympathy for the ruling party and Museveni, the individual.
But how tricky it would be, Mr Museveni demanded to have face to face talks with Bukenya. However, Bukenya had a better political move. He asked Museveni that he would be accompanied to the meeting by a few of his people. Museveni consented.
So, when Bukenya and his people arrived at State House, Museveni was shocked to see that the delegation included: Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga,  Lugazi Diocese Bishop Mathias Ssekamaanya and the Katikiro Eng. John Baptist Walusimbi. It was a senior Catholic Church entourage and a Buganda top delegation good enough to deliver a strong political message to Museveni.
After the exchange of pleasantries, Museveni asked Bukenya not to stand as an independent. But Bukenya’s entourage delivered a political message to Museveni: that Bukenya had suffered a lot yet he was not the only if not the most corrupt high ranking government official. While they supported the fight against corruption, they were unhappy that politics other than corruption fight informed Bukenya’s prosecution.
The clergy told Museveni not humiliate Bukenya the way Mbabazi was doing through the Inspector General of Government, Raphael Baku. They were upset by the President’s inability to reign in Baku not to humiliate Bukenya.
A condition was given: If Bukenya was to stand on NRM ticket, the IGG was to withdraw charges of abuse of office against the former VP. A fly that was on the wall, says the President summoned Baku to the same meeting with immediate effect. And before the prelates, Baku was ordered to withdraw the charges against his former VP.
Apparently, when Baku fidgeted trying to justify is position, Museveni reportedly asked him: “Do you want to overthrow my government?”  The man from West Nile got into a panic mode. He was told he would not leave the meeting until his letter withdrawing the case was received by court. Baku rings his officials to notify court of his office’s decision to discontinue prosecution against Bukenya.
With prelates’ mission achieved, Museveni demanded his political share. He reportedly lectured the clergy about the dangers of Col. Kizza Besigye’s walk-to-work protests. In fact he asked for their support to discourage the protest. As pay back, Bishop Lwanga was the first to come out openly condemning walk-to-work protests. He has maintained that stance since.
But the prelates still want Mbabazi to pay for his insidious war against the Catholic Church hence the call for transparency in oil management and the Episcopal statement demanding all ministers named in oil bribery to step aside. That real thing is that the Catholic Church has put Mbabazi on notice. As bystanders, we can only watch.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Why IGG’s case against three ministers will collapse

The trial of three senior ministers accused of abuse of office and causing financial loss by the IGG is mere political witch-hunt or a joke bound to collapse in court.
The IGG’s evidence in court is a copy of unsigned minutes of an alleged meeting in Munyonyo which was reportedly chaired by Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa and attended by John Nasasira, Rukutana Mwesigwa, Ambassador Julius Onen, Chris Kassami, the Secretary to the Treasury, Sudhri Ruparelia, the city tycoon and Eng. Sam Bagonza among others.
According to the IGG’s court file, which I have seen, the main evidence is the unsigned purported minutes. He also intends to line up the following as his witnesses: Chris Kassami, Julius Onen, Samson Bagonza, Christopher Gashirabake, a State Attorney from the ministry of Justice, Fred Kagoda, an Engineer from Works ministry, Alex Kakooza, the Under Secreatry at Works and one John Bosco Suuza.
The ministers are charged on two counts: Irregularly convening a consultative Cabinet Sub Committee meeting and irregularly committing government to fund the cost of construction driveways, parking areas and a marina at Speke Resort Munyonyo at Shs14billion.
But the charges are weak because the ministers did not illegally convene a meeting on December 17, 2005 as the IGG alleges. Instead, a Cabinet Subcommittee on Chogm had on September 27, 2005 mandated the Foreign Affairs minister to lead a tour of the facilities.
Minute 15/2005 of the Cabinet Sub Committee reads: “…agreed that formal letters of interest be communicated to the proprietors of venues and a team led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, composed of the following make a physical assessment of facilities; Security, Tourism, Trade and Industry, Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Attorney General’s Office, Media and Works, Transport and Communications.”
It was on this Cabinet recommendation that Kutesa led a team of ministers to tour Munyonyo. This is the same meeting the IGG calls illegal. Sources say the ministers will argue in court that they never did anything illegal by visiting Munyonyo and identifying what they thought was needed to make the place fit to host CHogm retreat.
Apparently, during the visit, the discussions were informal. They team retreated for refreshments and left the venue without formal discussions. It’s these informal discussions that Eng. Bangonza jotted down in his notebook.
And after becoming the first Chogm victim after the construction of the road in Munyonyo was found to be inflated, Bagonza reportedly revisited his notebook and wrote what he called minutes of the meeting. Sources say after being humiliated, Bangonza felt the three ministers did not help him escape jail. He, therefore, teamed with Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi [he has succession battles to fight] to use the so called minutes to implicate the three ministers.  Mbabazi directed the IGG to swing into action.  However, even Bagonza’s own minutes do not say anywhere that the ministers committed government to spend hs14billion in Munyonyo.
“The chairman thereafter requested members to discuss all available options for Government’ intervention, so that the necessary formalities to conclude the arrangement can be made at technical level to pave way for the commencement of the development of the required facilities,” reads minutes 3 as per Bagonza.
To make matters worse, even the IGG’s witnesses have written saying there was no formal meeting held at Munyonyo and no one was told to take minutes.
“There was no formal meeting whatsoever as reflected. During the walking inspection tour, general various options were expressed as mere opinions, definitely not as reflected as agreed positions. The so called minutes attached here was not part of the inspection tour or deliberations,” reads Amb. Onen’s letter to the IGG dated June 20, 2011.
And in another letter dated June 28, Amb. Onen also wrote: “I did not appoint anyone to act as Secretary to the so called meeting and neither am I aware that there was any Chairman of the said meeting… the purported minutes of the meeting were never presented formerly and endorsed in Chogm task force meeting.”
Another witness for the IGG, Chris Kassami wrote: “…I attended a number of site inspection tours and visits, as a member of the National Task Force, to see the progress on the works on the Chogm venue. During the tours and visits, we did not hold formal meetings to discuss investments in and around the venue and therefore, no minutes were produced.
“In my opinion, the minutes attached are not a true record of what transpired during the site inspection tours that I attended. I saw the minutes of the said meeting of 17 December 2007 for the first time when I received your letter.”
This is great weakness in the IGG’s case.  
And to compound the IGG’s poor investigation, the Attorney General, Peter Nyombi in a letter to President Museveni dated October 10, 2011 said the IGG could not sustain the charges against the three ministers.
“A memorandum of understanding was signed between M/s Meera Investments ltd and Government spelling the terms and conditions of the joint venture between the two parties on the 13th of March, 2006.
The Secretary to the Treasury signed the memorandum on behalf of the Government. There is, however no evidence on the file to prove that there was financial loss….the offence of causing financial loss is not sustainable.”
Mr Nyombi concludes that the matter of Munyonyo can only be settled in a civil court if there was breach of contract.
“The statements that were recorded [by IGG] from witnesses were generally irrelevant. Accordingly although Hon. Sam Kutesa, Hon. John Nasasira and Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutanda are public servants, there is no evidence to prove that they committed an offence of abuse of office,” Nyombi wrote.
According to my investigation, the IGG Raphael Baku is used  by the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi to damage the image of anyone seen to be close to President Museveni, therefore; could influence his choice of a successor.
Like in the case of Quality Chemicals, a firm manufacturing malaria and HIV/Aids drugs where the IGG had no evidence but sanctions a case against the firm for the purposes of embarrassing the management, the case against the ministers is largely aimed at embarrassing the ministers.
Quality Chemicals was embarrassed because Amama Mbabazi perceived the managing director, Emmanuel Katongole to be close to his political rival Prof. Gilbert Bukenya.
In fact, sources say Mbabazi believed Bukenya was a shareholding at Quality Chemicals; therefore, he wanted to hit at a business where the former Vice President reportedly had interest.
In concocting a case against Quality Chemicals for purposes of embarrassing them, Baku was playing to the whims of Mbabazi.
In the case, of the ministers, Mbabazi is furious that they were too close to the First Lady, Janet Museveni whom he thinks nurses intentions of succeeding her husband.
To weaken Janet, Mbabazi is trying to cut her roots first. It is not strange that all the three ministers are close associates of the First Family.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Mbabazi wants to fall with Museveni

Will the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi finally become the man to wrestle down President Museveni?  Or will President Museveni finally put his new Prime Minister down to his place?  These questions appear difficult to give answers especially because politics is dynamic and keeps changing. But some clear picture seems to emerge about the internal strife in the ruling NRM party and especially the role of Mr Mbabazi. Several Movementists [as they call themselves] have cried foul about the rift that Mbabazi is causing in the party but the boss, Museveni, has acted dumb.
Will he remain dumb forever given that the man he so much trusts and describes as Mr Clean seems to nurse real interest in the seat? Only time will tell but signs are that Mr Clean could soon turn out to be Mr Abominable.  Here is why?  Notwithstanding the cajoling of party MPs in a recent retreat at Kyankwazi, NRM faces serious questions from within.
Several anti-Mbabazi forces are coalescing. And Mbabazi is not relenting.  He has told some young party MPs and his loyalists that he had dedicated himself to serving NRM and Museveni, therefore; it was only proper that he becomes President with the support of Museveni. He is maneuvering his way. Part of the maneuver is looping Museveni into his troubles.
While MPs genuinely want him like Kutesa and Onek to pay for his alleged role in the oil bribery, Mbabazi has managed to convince Museveni that the MPs were not just after him but the ultimate target was Museveni. The Prime Minister is so shrewd that he has ensured that the political intelligence information received by the President is largely from the spies sympathetic to him. And the result is that Museveni has often sided with Amama. But this has further widened the wedge between Amama and the MPs.  But because the President listens to Mbabazi, the political tensions between Mbabazi and the other party leaders is likely to be extended to Museveni.
And it has begun in parliament with the demand that all ministers named in the oil bribery step aside. This position is now being fought by Mbabazi who has looped in the President. They seem to have temporarily succeeded. For how long; it’s hard to tell.
With Speaker Rebecca Kadaga appearing determined to make her own political statement, Mbabazi, who clandestinely fought her election as Speaker, might not enjoy the best of times as Leader of Government business in the House. And the MPs appear to be on her side.
While this would have been Mbabazi’s cross to carry, trouble for NRM is that Museveni has made it look like his cross as well and therefore; the party’s burden. His approach could be informed by the desire to keep the party cohesive but the consequences appear to be dramatic. Clearly, Mbabazi’s work methods show that if he fails to become President, then he goes down with Museveni. 
What happens if MPs insist that Mbabazi must give way? Of course Museveni will be tempted to disregard parliament. And what would have been the message to the international community about respect and independence of different arms of government?  The negative vibes will have been sent. With the new world order, no one can afford to be law unto themselves.  In his defence of Mbabazi, the President has often argued that the man is not corrupt. Parliament is to probe the bribery allegations, so what will Museveni say if the probe reveals that actually Mr Clean is a big fraud? The implication will be that Mbabazi is corrupt with the knowledge of the President. Some unpalatable news to the international community again, I guess.
And questions are also being asked: How come that Mr Clean was named in the NSSF-Temangalo saga? How come he is also named in the oil saga? And why is Mbabazi named and not, for instance, ICT minister Ruhakana Rugunda?
Is President Museveni also aware that Mbabazi suffocated the computerization of the army payroll? The deal to computerize the UPDF payroll and to avoid ghost soldiers was worth US dollars 11million and up to date, nothing has been done. Who ate the money and why?   Is Mr Museveni also aware that ESO bought three houses in London for its operations but the houses are now reportedly in the names of Mr Mbabazi? Sources say one time, disgraced deputy ESO boss, Emmy Allio travelled to London and wanted to stay in one of the houses to cut costs since they belonged to the organization he worked for but the man was turned away because he did not have permission from Mbabazi. The former journalist tuned spy relocated to another property but received similar treatment.  Is that a man Museveni should vouch as Mr Clean? Is Museveni aware that Mbabazi’s radio station in Kanungu was reportedly meant for ESO?
If Museveni wants Mbabazi as his successor, their approach could sweep both of them out of the political scene especially if they start by antagonizing the institution of parliament. In these days, when even hardcore dictators end up hiding in culverts like Libya’s Gaddafi did, you just can never know what political mistake will mark your downfall. For Museveni, at least for now, it seems his obsession with Mbabazi against all conventional wisdom could kick up a storm that will shake his hold onto power. It should have occurred to Museveni that his word alone, these days does not convince his party. Most often, as he and Mbabazi did in Kyankwazi, money is paid out to MPs to soften their stand on contentious issues.  Bogus approach if you asked me. To keep the MPs silent, more money will have to be used. Hehe… the economic crisis won’t make it sustainable.  Let us watch this 9th parliament keenly. They might surprise us.