At least 21,407 teachers across the country have not received February pay, a situation which yesterday saw senior government officials asked to leave Parliament for feigning ignorance about the problem.
Education ministry Permanent Secretary Rose Nassali Lukwago upset MPs on the Public Service and Local Government Committee, who are investigating the challenge of salaries and public service payroll management when she said it is difficult to know who has not been paid.
Her response drew cries of outrage and disbelief from members, with Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze observing that “it is unacceptable for the PS to feign ignorance that she is not aware that any teacher has not been paid”.
Committee chair Freedom Grace Kwiyucwiny (Zombo Woman) thereafter declared: “The committee cannot accept the statement from the PS, she should go back and come back on Thursday with the full list of teachers who have not been paid.”
The PS was accused of hiding information from MPs when she said “unless the affected teachers complain, it’s difficult to know that there is a problem”.
Dr Lukwago said after a complaint is lodged, it is forwarded to the respective Chief Administrative Officers for appropriate action.
The payroll is currently managed by the Ministry of Public Service under the Integrated Personnel Payroll System. This is a web-based system. The PS said it is a relatively new system, having been piloted in 2011 and only rolled out this financial year. As such, she said, there are system-related challenges, which are being sorted out by ministry of Public Service.
MPs were not convinced with the explanation. Dr Lukwago was asked to leave and ordered to contact CAOs in all the 112 districts for the details of teachers who have not received their salaries and those whose names were deleted from the payroll. She was also directed to re-appear on Thursday.
Public Service ministry’s take
Yesterday, the junior minister at ministry of Public Service, Ms Sezi Mbaguta, observed that the month has not ended before declining to comment on why the teachers have not been paid their February salaries.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about; I don’t have any comment on that matter,” Ms Mbaguta said before hanging up when contacted by the Daily Monitor.
Reached for comment, Mr James Tweheyo, the general secretary Uganda National Teachers Union, said Dr Lukwago’s narrative was a “mockery”.
“That [official] is not serious,” Mr Tweheyo who was, however, not at Parliament told the Daily Monitor yesterday. “We have 21,407 teachers who have not accessed their salaries for February and others have not even received the January pay.”
Meanwhile, the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) chairman, Mr Usher Wilson Owere, yesterday said it was overwhelmed by teachers’ complaints about the continued non-payment of their salaries.
“We want the two ministers for Public Service to resign because they have failed to politically supervise their docket. How can genuine teachers go without pay for months and [you] keep paying ghosts? This is unacceptable,” Mr Owere told the Daily Monitor.