Government told to back off Red Cross top boss
Posted Monday, October 14 2013 at 01:00
URC says said they are not under any control and cannot be subject to the directions of the government.
The Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) governing board has told the state minister for Disaster Preparedness that they are an independent institution and thus cannot be influenced by the government to take decisions.
They were responding to Mr Musa Ecweru’s October 8 letter to URCS management ordering for the sacking of embattled secretary general Michael Nataka. Mr Nataka is at the heart of ongoing investigations by the police and tax authorities on allegations of smuggling goods worth Shs800 million disguised as URCS consignment to dodge taxes. But board chairperson Robert Ssebunya, in a response to the junior minister, said they are “not under control and cannot be subject to the directions of government”.
Red Cross defiance
Alluding to the Fourth Principle of autonomy of the Red Cross Movement, Mr Ssebunya noted: “The Red Cross Society, while in auxiliary in the humanitarian services of the government and subject to the laws of the country, it must always maintain its independence...”
In a letter copied to, among others, the Prime Minister, Police boss Gen Kale Kayihura and Uganda Revenue Authority, Mr Ecweru suggested that for investigations to continue unhindered, Mr Nataka be “relieved of his duties as a next step” is contemplated.
While Uganda Revenue Authority and the police valued the goods at Shs800 million, the URCS board valued them at US$70,97 (Shs24m) and insists that they are for the society. However, minister Ecweru, in his letter, insisted his “ministry be briefed of the progress within the actions being taken by the board in addressing the matter and the outcome of the investigations, or would disassociate with the former in any activity”.