Last Updated on: 15th September 2023, 10:34 am
Kole | President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently directed the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and the Internal Security Organization to ensure that no fund meant for poverty eradication programmes is stolen or mismanaged by any officials.
The President’s directive stemmed from various complaints from locals that exposed glaring cases of mismanagement of the Parish Development Model (PDM), Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) and Emyooga programmes.
Last week, the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among sent Members of Parliament on recess to monitor government programmes from September 8 to September 28, 2023.
On September 8, 2023, Kole North MP, Dr Samuel Opio Acuti commenced his oversight visit with a meeting attended by leaders and members of Ogwangacuma Parish PDM Sacco.
A detailed oversight report filed by Kole North County MP Dr. Samuel Opio Acuti has highlighted various irregularities including double payments, extortion, missing funds and framed arrests in the PDM programme in Ogwangacuma SACCO.
“This is not my first time to uncover such rot in the government programmes. In 2021 during the Emyooga oversight programme, shs131m was stolen from the SACCO accounts in all the 15 out of 16 constituency SACCOs that received the money. This was under the watch of the then RDC who was the Chairperson of the Emyooga task force,” says the Kole North MP.
According to the report, for example, Kole North Boda Boda SACCO received the sum of shs24.953 million, yet shs38 million was withdrawn from the account. It was discovered that the sum of shs14 million was missing and unaccounted for, and in Kole North Performing Artists SACCO, some shs17 million was unaccounted for.
“The beneficiaries received a total of shs13 million; however, the officials had withdrawn the sum of shs30 million from the bank,” reads the report.
This trend occurred in all the SACCOs indicating it was systematic and co-ordinated under the then RDC who immediately fled the district and asked for a transfer.
He has never returned to make police statements till date,” further reads the report.
History is repeating itself in the PDM in Kole North. The MP’s report established that many beneficiaries had their loans reduced from shs1 million to shs 800,000; another had their loans reduced to shs600,000 while others had their loans reduced to shs500,000 and even shs300,000, respectively under the directives of Achiro Lucy, the Community Development Officer (CDO) of Aboke Town Council.
The CDO, MP Acuti was told, asked the beneficiaries to pluck off pages in their loan forms having shs1 million and replace them with figures that she assigned to them.
The SACCO chairman Okii Edward and several group leaders reported that their earlier arrests had been framed by the CDO after they refused to collect shs30,000 per member in order to receive their PDM money. The person who accused them in a meeting chaired by the RDC who later directed their arrest under instructions from the LC5 of the district, Awany Andrew claimed we stole their money, Okii stated.
However, the same person Adero Vicky has never received any PDM money and the bank statement doesn’t show anywhere that the SACCO chairman stole shs8m as alleged by the secretary of the SACCO Awany Paul as he has never withdrawn any money from the bank accounts.
Secondly, the SACCO chairman and the other group leaders were not allowed to talk and defend themselves after being accused and were thereafter immediately arrested. They also stated that the CDO whom they had complained about, shockingly was the Master of Ceremony of the meeting and they weren’t allowed to raise any complaint about her.
Scrutiny of the stamped bank statements of Ogwangacuma PDM SACCO reveals glaring anomalies and double payments.
Atim Hassan, one of the beneficiaries is indicated to have received shs800,000 on August 23, 2023, and another shs800,000 on August 26, 2023, totalling shs1.6 million. This is above the permissible shs1m PDM loan amount. He is, however, reported to have only received shs800,000 leaving the shs800,000 unaccounted for.
Adong Doris, another beneficiary is indicated to have received shs800,000 on August 23, 2023 and another shs800,000 on August 26, totaling to shs1.6 million above the shs1m PDM loan amount.
She, however, reported to have only received shs500,000 leaving shs1.1 million unaccounted for.
There are also glaring anomalies in the bank statements. On October 10, 2022, the account had a balance of shs5 instead of shs 31.8 million. Similarly, on April 24, 2023, only shs5 was in the account instead of shs 57.8 million. Between May 11 and June 20, 2023, a period of more than one month, the account only had shs5 instead of shs 57,198,618.
Where was the rest of the money at this time since no withdrawals had started to be made? Asked MP Acuti.
On August 24 and 25, 2023, the account only had a balance of shs5 instead of shs 54.5 million and shs 56.3 million, respectively.
Whereas the CAO and the SACCO executives, namely the chairperson, secretary and treasurer approved payment of shs57.2 million which began being effected on August 22, 2023, by the time of getting the statement on September 8, 2023, shs54.8 million had been paid with shs2.4m not yet paid out and no evidence of the amounts having bounced.
Why didn’t the bank follow the instructions given? The report further reads.
“Another discrepancy was on Akello Betty, another beneficiary who received shs2.3 million over three instalments. She received sh 1.0 million on August 22, 2023, shs500,000 on August 25, 2023, then the same day another shs800,000, totalling shs2.3m.
However, shs2.8m was again deducted from her on the same day. How is this possible to deduct more money than what one has in their account unless she had a loan with the bank?” The report questions.
MP Dr. Opio’s report further revealed that the CDO being complained about was also the focal person for the UWEP programme (Uganda Women Empowerment Programme) in which he (the MP) had discovered a lot of irregularities earlier in February 2022 and reported officially to the CAO to investigate.
However, no report has been given almost one and a half years later. Irregularities were discovered in Note En Mar, Aboke, Awele, Barwot B, and Oryem Can B women’s groups under the UWEP programme in which the groups received less amounts than that disbursed by the Ministry.
Note En Mar women’s group received shs 10 million but was told to only withdraw shs 8.5 million, and the Awele women’s group received shs 10 million but was only told to withdraw shs 8 million. Barwot B women’s group and Oryem Can B women’s group should have each received shs9 million but only received shs6 million, and Aboke women’s group was only allowed to withdraw shs5 million yet they had received shs 9 million on the account.
MP calls for investigations
MP Dr Samuel Opio Acuti has called for the Statehouse Anti-corruption Unit to intervene and carry out full investigations on the PDM and UWEP programmes in Kole District.
“Our people have suffered repetitively from extortion, theft of funds, and blackmail, among others orchestrated by persons in higher authority in the district. This has resulted in government interventions having little impact on the beneficiaries. It is time to say enough is more than enough and have the culprits brought to book,” he concludes.