BY OUR INVESTIGATIVE TEAM
The flamboyant EC top-honchos given the boot
In yet another public demonstration that he is now fed up of the filthy- rich- corrupt officials in his government -President Yoweri Museveni has taken an unprecedented decision to fire 8 flamboyant Electoral Commission executives in the middle of an important elections season that’s being affected by the Covid-19 novel global pandemic.
And the furious Museveni has vowed not to give a damn about what he called “selfish” government officials who don’t care about their country. “If you don’t care about Uganda we shall not care about you ,” Museveni stated in a nation-wide live broadcast just hours after firing the EC top-honchos who are accused of frustrating a multi-billion procurement for voting materials and presenting an inflated budget for the polls in which they were allegedly expected to pocket billions .
The eight top EC executives allegedly involved in corruption tendencies include long serving Secretary to the Commission and Accounting Officer , Sam Rwakoojo, Director Finance & Administrator Joseph Lwanga, the Head of Procurement , Godfrey Wanyoto, Manager Public Relations ; Jotham Taremwa ; Director Information Technology ,Namugera Pontius, Administrator network , Jordan Lubega , Data Specialists , Edgar Kasigwa and Charles Musuza (data specialists).
At the top of their troubles is the multi-million US dollar deal to print ballot papers which President Museveni had advised that it should be given to a German firm, Veridos Identity Solutions GMBH to save the country billions of money.
It should be recalled that at the beginning of his Kisanja- Hakuna Muchezo ,in 2016, the said German firm signed a joint venture with Uganda Printing & Publishing Corporation (UPPC) to print highly sensitive government papers including money.
Sources close to State House said Rwakoojo and his colleagues were asked to give the ballot printing deal to UPPC but on close scrutiny they discovered Veridos has an interest in the company and the same German firm had successfully won a bid to transmit the poll results.
Although the EC officials objected to the suggestion to contract UPPC to print the ballot papers because Veridos had an interest in UPPC, sources said state house investigations found the EC officials allegedly had ulterior motives to siphon off billions if another company was given the deal. This particular contract is still being processed and now that the 8 officials are out of the way , the country awaits to see which company will win the lucrative tender .
It should be noted that at the same time a whistle blower had petitioned the office of the Inspector General of Government (IGG) questioning the methods used to give out contracts and amounts spent on various consultancy services in billions of shillings in a short period of time .
Accounting officers fear to spend government money as ordinary Ugandans suffer
The IGG is now carrying out an independent investigations but sources at the EC argued that it is becoming increasing difficult for government ministries , departments and agencies to contract service providers without attracting petitions and investigations instigated by the parties that are not selected to provide such services.
“ Much as there might be corruption in the government procurement processes , the fact that now it is obvious that losing parties will run to the IGG or Statehouse , accounting officers are now afraid to contract out services and utilize the budgeted for resources. This is the reason why last financial year many government bodies took back to the treasury billions of un-spent money something that greatly affects service delivery. At the end of the day it is the ordinary people that suffer because they are denied services due to the accounting officers fear to give out contracts and spend the money released to them,” an EC senior official who declined to be named stated .
Yes, the 8 officials have given way but Ministry of Finance should give proper guidelines on how to deal with companies that are not offered contracts when the government procurement processes are closed. Accounting and procurement officials should be protected against the wanton litigation, petitions and complaints by those who are not successful . Otherwise , it is going to be a nightmare for government officers to spend public money without fear of being accused of wrong doing. There should be a threshold in the upwards of UG.SHS.500m spent for a petition or complaint to be sustained if it is clear on the face of the record that the procurement was not transparently conducted. If this is not done we are afraid there is going to be no contracts given out ,” the officials reasoned , citing the cases at Uganda Roads Authority (URA), NIRA, OPM, URA, REA and CAA among others where officials have been sacked in the recent past due to procurement gone wrong .
Is the EC matter different
But sources said that the EC bosses sacking had nothing to do with the petitions at the IGG s offices or the infighting and intrigue at the polls body but rather the alleged inflated budget for the elections they presented to President Museveni . The president had asked for EC budget review and it is alleged that independent analysis of the figures found them to be way to high and that the implicated officials allegedly had ‘schemes ‘, through which they intended to get kickbacks in billions of shillings .
Local media early this year reported that the Ministry of Finance Officials were taken aback when the EC management presented to them a budget of UG.SHS. 868 billion for the 2021 polls – which had more than doubled from UG.SHS. 419.9 billion which was spent for the 2016 elections representing a shocking 106% increase.
It is these huge figures that caught the president’s eye and have subsequently led to his decision to give the EC officials the boot as further investigations are conducted among others matters some said to be political .