The Biggest Scandal In Uganda Involves Iron Sheets And Museveni Is Hitting The Roof

Uganda is embroiled in a scandal like no other, that has rocked the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and raised the ire of the country’s president and even led to arrests.

President Yoweri Museveni hit the roof and labelled the scandal as “criminal” demanding that those involved be arrested for theft.

This scandal is not about billions of Uganda shillings but the alleged theft of 5,500 iron sheets meant for disaster victims shared among nine politicians and senior government officials.

Four ministers have been adversely mentioned; Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Gorretti Kitutu, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Mr Hilary Onek.

According to The Monitor, State House Anti-Corruption Unit allegedly arrested relatives of some ministers who were found with the iron sheets.

So serious is this scandal that a furious Museveni was said to have demanded answers during a Cabinet meeting last week.

This is what happened according to The Monitor: During the Monday Cabinet meeting in State House Entebbe, President Museveni asked: “What are these things that I am hearing about the abuse of iron sheets for the people of Karamoja Sub-region? Where is [Karamoja minister Goretti] Kitutu? I need answers…?”

“Muli baabefii?” the President asked in Lumasaba, one of the familiar dialects or languages spoken in eastern Uganda.

The question is loosely translated as “Are you thieves?” He wanted State Minister Agnes Nandutu to explain the meaning of the phrase. He again rephrased the question, but this time he was just confirming the meaning of “baabefii”.

“Is this how you call them [the thieves]? He asked. The minister responded in affirmative and was tasked to explain “What happened to the iron sheets’’.

The President also wondered why the case is taking long demanding for the arrest of those implicated.

So, what exactly is this scandal about and how did Uganda find itself under such a head-scratching scandal?

In 2021, Uganda’s Parliament passed a Ksh.1.3 billion (UGX.39 billion) supplementary budget to procure 100,000 iron sheets for disarmed youth and the vulnerable in the Karamoja sub-region but the iron sheets were diverted. Minister-in-charge of Karamoja Affairs, Ms Mary Goretti Kitutu is in the middle of the storm as the custodian.

Those who received the iron sheets according to a memo from the Office of the Prime Minister dated February 13 were; Moriku Kaducu Joyce (200 iron sheets), Rebecca Kadaga (500), Jacob Oboth Oboth (300), Rukia Nakadaama (300), Matia Kasaija (300), Kitutu Mary Goretti (3,000), Obua Dennis Hanson (300), Lugoloobi Amos (300) and Bwiino Kyakulaga 300.

 

After the uproar, Uganda’s Minister for Planning and Ntenjeru North MP Amos Lugoloobi was accused of taking 600 iron sheets meant to be relief material for vulnerable populations and used them to roof a shed for his goats.

There was immediate uproar across the country that forced the Minister to remove the iron sheets he had used on his animal shed.

 

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

 

Lugoloobi confirmed to have removed the iron sheets from his property, terming them as evil saying that the goat-breeding project was meant to empower his constituents. He also tried to downplay the issue.

“How much are the 600 iron sheets I received? This is too little money because I have been donating iron sheets, which I have been buying using my personal money to schools, churches, mosques and other community projects,” the minister said as quoted by The Monitor.

The Karamoja Parliamentary Group Secretary and MP for Bokora County Mr John Bosco Ngoya was angry and wants action taken on those implicated.

“We are witnessing people who have lost conscience, and morals because if you sell items that are meant for the poor, something has gone amiss. It is the reason we are going to ensure that the minister (Goretti Kitutu), and the rest that have got a similar thought of surviving on the dead realise that what they are doing is not right,” he said.

Will there be senior arrests of top government and political officials like President Museveni has ordered? We wait.

 

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