The theft of relief iron sheets kept in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) stores meant for the Karamoja sub-region under the affirmative action programme has caught public attention. Several Government officials are accused of stealing the relief iron sheets for self-interests.
Among those accused of stealing the relief iron sheets are Cotilda Kitutu, Michael Nabwaya and Julius Wabule. The accused are the mother, brother and nephew of Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Goretti Kitutu. The three were discovered selling OPM-branded iron sheets to residents of Namisindwa district in Eastern Uganda.
Other members of the Executive arm, including Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja, Vice President Jessica Alupo and the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, among others, received relief iron sheets.
In a statement issued on Friday 15th February 2023, eight (8) Members of Parliament from the Karamoja Parliamentary Group accused the Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Goretti Kitutu of diverting iron sheets, goats and food intended for the Karimojong people.
The Members of Parliament said that their constituents had been affected by starvation and spates of insecurity. Led by their group chairperson, Remegio Achia, the MPs made four (4) prayers, which included the need for Parliament to investigate the issues through a relevant committee; that Kitutu and the Minister of State for Karamoja Affairs, Agnes Nandutu, step aside to allow proper investigation into the matter; that a forensic audit be done on both the procurement and distribution of goats and iron sheets to intended beneficiaries as well as the audit of food stores in Namalu Prison Farm, which food was meant to feed primary school children.
While appearing before the Presidential Affairs Committee which is investigating the Karamoja iron sheets saga, Mary Goretti Kitutu apologized over the diversion of iron sheets that were meant for the vulnerable people in Karamoja.
“This statement is being made in my capacity as Minister for Karamoja Affairs on the matter of iron sheets procured under my Ministry. “Without proper guidance, some iron sheets meant for Karamoja region were given outside the region in response to requests. This could have been an oversight but now that guidance has been given, this will not recur.” said Kitutu.
Personally, i was pleased by the kind of spirit and courage that the Karamoja leaders exhibited to press, Minister Kitutu and other members of the Executive organ to account for the iron sheets relief. It was a double effort and an indication that the Karamoja leaders do mind about the people who they represent.
The spirit of togetherness on regional matters portrayed by the Karamoja leaders reminded me of the Acholi and Lango leaders. Regardless of their political party affiliations, the leaders from these regions are mindful of their people and you will often see them come out strongly in public either to express their dissatisfaction or to demand for better service delivery, but which is never observed in other regions like Buganda and Busoga.
When shall we ever see all leaders in Buganda or Busoga regions demanding from Government better service delivery for their people or when shall these leaders express their dissatisfactions on what may be going on in their regions? Each one seems to be selfish, quiet and not minding about their constituents yet there is a lot that is not going on well in these regions. This is a disservice, a sign of disunity and selfishness.
Remember the persons in these regions who are being abducted and tortured everyday by armed security operatives moving in ‘drones’ but we do not see a joint effort by leaders in Buganda or Busoga pressing Government to release these political prisoners. Young men and women continue to rot in detentions either on trumped up charges or unknown charges. Other people are missing.
I am very certain that if these people were from Acholi, West Nile or Lango regions, they would now be out of detentions or jail because of the pressure that the leaders should have put on Government to release their people.
While in Buganda, leaders especially those subscribing to NRM are only seen praising their chairperson and asking him to lead up to death forgetting that their people are being abducted and tortured by people in state agencies.
A part from the members of Opposition who are condemning violation of human rights and demanding for the release of political prisoners, other leaders are quite and minding about their own businesses, and yet these are the people who they represent either in Parliament or at Local Government Councils. What is your use to the people who elected you or you are only serving an individual’s political interests? When do you lobby for your regions other than yourselves and families?
Starting with local leaders up to MPs, the Karamoja sub – region leaders at least showed that their people’s representatives and carry a mandate to serve their people diligently. They have put up a constructive fight to demand for justice, and their issue has become a matter of public concern which has continued to expose loopholes in Mr. Museveni’s Administration.
It’s high time the leaders in Buganda and Busoga regions picked a leaf from leaders in other regions. You must all be united and speak with one voice especially on matters concerning the people you lead. Do not cheat your constituents. Exercise your role and prove your worth as leaders. Lest what you are doing today is a betrayal, and your constituents shall continue to punish you like they did in the 2021 General elections if you do not act as expected.
Karamoja iron sheets scandal: Thank you, Karamoja Parliamentary Group.
Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi | Advocate, Researcher & Entrepreneur
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