As Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee nears its end of investigating the mismanagement of relief items meant for vulnerable people in the northeastern sub-region of Karamoja, legislators are utilising the final days to interface with top government leaders implicated in the saga.
The committee on Wednesday met with Vice President Jessica Alupo at her office in Kampala.
Ms Alupo informed committee members that upon her return from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, nearly 7,000 kilometres away, slightly a month ago, she was shocked to learn that her name was among the beneficiaries of iron sheets.
The committee chairperson, Ms Jesca Ababiku (Adjumani MP), took the liberty to inform Ms Alupo that previous records show that she was accorded 500 iron sheets from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for the Financial Year 2022/2023.
“Upon learning that my name was on the list, I rang the Prime Minister and asked whether the iron sheets that were distributed were either meant for the Karachunas (youth) or were the normal iron sheets that [the office] often distributed [to ministers to support initiatives in their home constituencies],” Ms Alupo said.
In part of Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja’s responses, she informed Ms Alupo that a written elaborate report clarifying the issues had been presented to the President, which [report] she has not personally seen.
Ms Alupo said the idea of receiving the iron sheets initially came from Ms Kitutu. The arrangements were coordinated between her personal assistant and another technical person, who was at the helm of distributing the iron sheets.
The personal assistant, according to Ms Alupo, often got notifications from [a technical person] of OPM, who asked if there were vulnerable people in Katakwi District who needed support.
Ms Alupo, who serves as the Woman MP in the district, responded in the affirmative, stating that there were indeed vulnerable people from her constituency who needed support.
“Yes. I received the iron sheets but not physically because of my schedule. [But] I did give instructions that they should be directly channelled directly for community projects. I refused the iron sheets to be delivered to my home,” she said.
The iron sheets Ms Alupo received were utilised for respective community projects including roofing schools and churches in Katakwi.
OPM has for the past 15 years been availing affirmative support to respective ministers to extend support to their constituencies.
“….But it should be done in a more harmonious and regulated way because the Karachuna iron sheets saga says the process was not done systematically, hence the confusion and suspicion,” Ms Alupo said.
Parliament in December 2021 passed a Shs39 billion supplementary budget to support respective initiatives in Karamoja. Part of the money, Shs22 billion, was allocated towards purchasing goats while Shs5 billion was directed for procuring 100,000 iron sheets, which were allegedly mismanaged. Today, the committee will meet with Ms Nabbanja.
Mr Peter Okot (Tochi County MP) yesterday said they will be interfacing with Ms Nabbanja on two fronts; one as a beneficiary and secondly as a supervisor for all the ministers.
“Our hope lies in her [Nabbanja’s] testimony following Kitutu’s refusal to cooperate with the committee,” he said.
Ms Kitutu interfaced with the committee on Tuesday but declined to take an oath, a directive, which was instructed before answering MPs’ questions on the iron sheets saga including the list of beneficiaries.
Following Kitutu’s refusal to speak under oath, the committee handed her over to police to record a statement.
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