Recalling posho, iron sheets scandals and political corruption in Uganda

Last Updated on: 24th March 2023, 01:14 pm

Uganda is now a country where innovative ideas are in huge volumes and over the years innovators have tried to put their innovations to work.

Also, politically, some people chosen to lead a country of more than 44 million people are getting innovative each year.

Their “innovations” though, come when there is a national or global crisis. 

Since 1986, Uganda has been led by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. Museveni, over the past few decades, has seen his government and those he always appoints to help him rule engage in corruption and or super scandals.

It is, also worth noting that on several occasions, the president has talked against corruption and ordered the arrest and prosecution of those involved. But because some of these corrupt suspects are “untouchables and heavy,” a number of them continue with the business.

Among top national institutions, Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister has often been known for big scandals as recalled below.

Covid-19-posho purchasing scandal 

In April 2020 at the peak of Covid-19, a scandal rocked the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). Senior officials at the OPM would later be arrested for causing government financial losses of USD 528,000.

At that time, the head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema said president Museveni directed her to arrest and investigate how the purchase of posho meant to feed vulnerable Ugandans during the lockdown was made. 

Nakalema and her team had to arrest the Permanent Secretary (PS) Christine Guwatudde Kintu, Accounting Officer Joe Wanjala, Assistant Procurement Commissioner Fred Lutimba and Martin Owor, who was the Head of Covid-19 Relief Management. 

Another scandal and the most trending is the “Iron Sheets’ Scandal” involving a senior minister in the OPM and dozens of her colleagues. 

Mary Goretti Kitutu is the State Minister for Karamoja Affairs under the OPM. She is being criticised for allegedly diverting dozens of iron sheets that were procured to support vulnerable groups and institutions like schools and churches in the Karamoja sub-region.

Reports we can verify reveals that the iron sheets were found in her mother’s home in Namasindwe district during an operation conducted by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), the Police and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit.

She picked 1500 pieces of iron sheets on January 1, 2022, and an additional 1500 pieces on June 17, 2022.

Mary is not alone in this scandal. She is in it together with colleagues in serving the nation and they include, key among them her boss, the Prime Minister – Robinah Nabbanja.

The Prime Minister received 2000 pieces of iron sheets meant for the “vulnerable poor” in Kakumiro district where she is also the district woman MP.

Her package was picked up by her aide (her PA) Bright Alinaitwe who signed on her behalf as the receiver.

The PA was driven in a car with registration number H4DF 334. This happened on January 7, 2023. 

Karamoja Minister Agnes Nandutu is also another beneficiary who collected 2000 pieces.

The Bududa district woman Member of Parliament, Nandutu collected her using a car with registration number UAZ 347B on June 23, 2022. 

Her aide Evelyne Bazibu signed on her boss’ behalf as the receiver.

Speaker of Parliament Annet Anita Among, according to widely circulated documents received 500 pieces.

Also the Bukedea district woman MP, “her iron sheets” were picked using a car with registration number UG 0582Z on June 25, 2022. Denis Matsiko drove the iron sheets.

The country’s Number 2, Vice President Jessica Alupo also has been reported to have received 500 pieces of iron sheets. Her package was picked up using a car with registration number UBE 020L on June 17, 2022. 

The State Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Rose Lilly Akello, and also Karenga district woman MP took 800 pieces of iron sheets on June 15 and 17, 2022, respectively.

Two cars with registration numbers UBE 963S and UBH 347L collected the minister’s share and were signed as received by her secretary, Jane Namaganda.

Others are Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Amos Lugolobi who received 300 pieces of iron sheets, his boss Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija who got 600 pieces; the Chief Accounting Officer of Nakapiripirit got 3,880 pieces of iron sheets and a car with registration number UG 0344Z/0345Z transported it. 

Hamson Denis Obua. The government chief whip and the Ajuri county MP received 300 pieces of iron sheets and were picked by a car with registration number UAS 494U on February 1, 2023. Local media outlets in Lira (Lango) reported on Monday that he donated it to the communities.

It is not yet widely known if the above beneficiaries also have donated their shares to the true beneficiaries as done by Obua.

Political corruption and roles of donors in Uganda

In its report dubbed CMICommissionedReport on Political Corruption and the Roles of Donors in Uganda by CMI Mischelsen Insititute, the report’s executive summary reads: “Political corruption is fed by authoritarianism, economic opportunities, lack of institutional controls, and high level of social inequality.”

It further adds that “political will, must, however, be understood and analysed as a quality of relevant political actors and political institutions, and a phenomenal dependent on political interest and incentives”.

On corruption trends in Uganda, the same institute says, “Corruption in Uganda is systematic and endemic.” “It’s political and it is bureaucratic…”


According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), recommendations published on October 21, 2013, to President Yoweri Museveni and copied to parliament, and police, among others, failure to prosecute high levels of corruption in Uganda is “unacceptable”.

The HRW’s concern came after a huge sum of donors’ funds were embezzled in the OPM.

“The news that US$12.7m in donor funds has been embezzled from the Office of the Prime Minister hit the headlines in many donor capitals in late 2012, prompting serious questions about Uganda’s commitment to fighting corruption,” wrote HRW.

“The stolen funds were earmarked as crucial support for rebuilding northern Uganda, ravaged by a 20-year war,  and Karamoja, Uganda’s poorest region,” added the HRW.

The Rights Watch also said in the same recommendation letter that approximately 30 per cent of the national budget came from foreign aid in 2012. As a result of the OPM scandal and claims that the money was funnelled into private accounts, the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, and Norway suspended aid.

“The OPM scandal was not the first time that grand scale theft of public money deprived some of Uganda’s poorest citizens of better access to fundamental services such as health and education,” revealed the Watch, adding that, “Past corruption scandals have had a direct impact on human rights. For example, millions of dollars worth of funds were diverted from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation in 2006 and from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2005. Despite investigations, none of the high-ranking government officials who managed the implicated offices has faced criminal sanction.”

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