Minister wants Red Cross boss suspended
Posted Sunday, October 13 2013 at 01:00
Kampala- The junior minister for Disaster Preparedness, Mr Musa Ecweru, has asked the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) to suspend its secretary general, Mr Michael Nataka.
In an October 8 letter, Mr Ecweru wrote to the URCS president, demanding that his ministry be kept informed about the progress on the actions being taken by the URCS board.
Attempts to speak to the URCS president, Mr Tom Okello, were unsuccessful as his known phone numbers were switched off.
However, in response to the minister’s letter, the URCS yesterday in a press statement on Friday said although the it was established by an Act of Parliament as an auxiliary to government in the humanitarian field, it maintains its autonomy.
Quoting the principles of the Red Cross Movement, the organisation wrote: “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 autonomy so that it is able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the movement.”
Mr Ecweru’s letter follows reports that the URCS board remained divided on Mr Nataka’s suspension after the chairperson of the Central Governing Board, Mr Robert Ssebubya, issued a statement defending Mr Nataka’s activities.
Mr Nataka was thrust into the limelight early this month after Uganda Revenue Authority officials raided his home in Bunga, a city suburb, accusing him of alleged smuggling of goods worth Shs800 million disguised as property of URCS with intent to evade taxes.
Mr Nataka has denied the claims and said the consignment in question, which comprised of an ambulance and official materials such as chairs and beds, was headed to the URCS’s Africa Youth Leadership Training Centre in Mukono.
The minister also asked URCS to provide a more substantial explanation to the ministry on the matter since Ssebubya’s statement “leaves more questions unanswered and does not explain many of the allegations related to earlier shipments”.
“Please take this matter as an issue of utmost importance that needs urgent attention as my ministry feels constrained to engage in further dealings with URCS when the matter has not been satisfactorily addressed,” Mr Ecweru’s letter to URSC President reads in part.