The State Minister for Investment, Ms Evelyn Anite, has slammed “hired detractors” in a letter to the Inspector General of Government and dismissed allegations of influence peddling, corruption and abuse of office levelled against her.
In a three-page letter dated August 19, the minister reiterated that she is not under any travel ban, confirmed the study trip to Mauritius last month and wondered why her movements “should be of interest to anyone.”
“I travelled to Mauritius from August 4 to August 11 2019 as part of a contingent of students on a three-month Senior Executive programme - Africa, run by the Harvard Business School and Gordon Institute of Business Science,” the minister’s letter reads, in part.
“The first segment of the programme is structured in a way that some class days are spent at the Harvard Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and other segment of class days were conducted in Mauritius. The second round of the programme will be conducted in Cambridge at the Harvard Business School Campus in November later this year.”
Ms Anite’s letter follows a whistleblower’s petition last week to the Inspectorate of Government, calling for investigations into the junior minister over claims of influence peddling, abuse of office, corruption, and conduct unbecoming of a minister.
The whistle blower informed the IGG that Ms Anite travelled to Mauritius to negotiate a secret pact to sell UTL below the market value to Mauritius Telecom.
As evidence of her study trip to Mauritius, the minister named four “eminent Ugandans” as her classmates in the US.
“My classmates can be contacted to attest and affirm to the foregoing” the minister wrote.
She added: “I am aware, there is a group of people who have been sponsoring blackmail against me since I started demanding [an] audit into Uganda Telecom (UTL), fighting against the corrupt in UTL and in the government I diligently serve,” Ms Anite’s letter further reads.
She disparaged the whistle blower petition to IGG as a handiwork of the corrupt and in no uncertain terms informed the IGG that the President ordered her to audit UTL because he “firmly believes in eliminating [the] corrupt from the government and the State of Uganda”
During a press briefing on Monday, the minister failed to answer the question regarding her alleged trip to Mauritius and instead denied allegations of bribery.
Explaining why she opposed the choice of Teleology Holdings Limited, Ms Anite informed the IGG that her support for Mauritius telecom was based on a report by the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA). She forwarded FIA report to the IGG and details of her study programme in the US as part of the evidence.
“Although Teleology Holdings Limited submitted the highest bid, it was revealed by the FIA that they had no proper record of books of accounts, had no money to Invest, no experience in telecom business and it was only a Special Purpose Vehicle created with a sole aim of acquiring shares in Uganda Telecom. Indeed, my fears were vindicated because up to the present, this shell company has never brought a coin to invest in UTL.”
Ms Anite also denied the allegations of conducting government business while on official leave. She explained that at the time she wrote the said letters, she had cancelled her leave and was back to work.
She told the IGG that the purpose of her letter was to clarify the “frivolous” allegations and ask the ombudsman to expedite investigations and put the matter to rest. “My preference is that the investigations are done by way of public hearing such that Ugandans can hear and know more about these hired detractors,” the minister wrote.
IGG speaks out
Condemned. Ms Munira Ali, the IGG spokesperson Munira, yesterday said it was premature to know whether there will be any investigations. She also confirmed a second petition to IGG, seeking investigations into the dealings of deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana and Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi.
She also explained that the two petitions will be handled differently and that “the IGG does not conduct investigations publicly.”