Museveni orders probe into Ankole university fights

West Ankole Diocese Bishop and AWIST Chancellor Rt Rev Yonna Katoneene speaks to the press at a function recently. PHOTO BY PAUL ARUHO.

What you need to know:

Intervened. The President met leaders from the Greater Bushenyi sub-region and West Ankole Diocese to discuss how to resolve their wrangles

President Museveni has asked leaders at Ankole Western Institute of Science and Technology (AWIST) and West Ankole Diocese to carry out a special audit to resolve the ongoing wrangles between the two institutions over accusations of corruption.

Saturday Monitor has established from corroborated sources that President Museveni gave his position during a meeting with leaders from the Greater Bushenyi sub-region mainly from Sheema and Bushenyi districts and West Ankole Diocese at State Lodge in Fort Portal on January 22.

A source who attended the meeting said it began at 11pm and ended in the wee hours of the morning. It was attended by 36 leaders, including West Ankole Diocese Bishop and AWIST Chancellor Rt Rev Yonna Katoneene , Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, Mr David Kabigumira, Mr Sam Kahindi, Mr Yowasi Makaaru, Ms Loyce Mwesigwa, Me Yesse Mubangizi, Chris Rwakasisi, Prof Elli Katunguuka and Henry Tuhirirwe, among others.

Museveni’s take
Mr Museveni, sources said, called for external auditors to audit the diocesan books of accounts and the books from parishes in Sheema District where church funds were grabbed when the conflict heightened in May last year. The source said Mr Museveni pledged to fund the audit investigations.

“I have the required money to facilitate thorough auditing process and then I will see what will follow until we get a solution for the conflict.

I don’t like it when I hear the bishop being threatened here and there. However, he should not go to places where he is not wanted. We need to see all this end within a short period of time,” a source quoted Mr Museveni as saying at the meeting.

The meeting made several resolutions to end the long time conflict. Both sides agreed to a special audit into diocesan finances and those of the parishes in Sheema where offertory money was grabbed.

They also agreed to a six-member reconciliation committee to follow up the implementation of the resolutions made by the meeting. The committee consists of Mr Marvin Baryaruha, the diocesan chancellor, Mr Emmanuel Karasi, Bushenyi District speaker, Mr David Kabigumira, chairperson for “concerned christians”, Ms Loyce Mwesigwa, a stakeholder, Mr Edwin Babimpa, a Synod member, and Mr Chris Rwakasisi, who chairs the committee.

It was resolved that Bishop Katoneene carries out pastoral visits in other areas except the hostile archdeaconries of Sheema where Christians do not want him.

The meeting also resolved that education experts from the National Council for Higher Education scrutinise the university project and find out whether it should continue operating and determine when to open other branches of the university.
The committee will draw a work plan for execution of the assigned duties.

The President committed to monitor the performance of the committee and fulfil the pledge of Shs170m he made towards the university project during the fundraising last year.

The background
Ankole Western Institute of Science and Technology (AWIST) was founded by West Ankole Diocese in 2005.
A group of people calling themselves “concerned stakeholders” from Sheema District have been at loggerheads with the West Ankole Diocese Bishop and AWIST Chancellor Rt Rev Yonna Katoneene since 2013 over claims of corruption and mismanagement.

They accuse him of, among other things, plotting to shift AWIST campus from Sheema to the neighbouring Bushenyi District, mismanaging diocese funds and other church projects.

Bishop Katoneene denies all the allegations.
The Sheema Group led by Mr David Kabigumira, Mr Sam Kahindi and Yowasi Makaaru supported by Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister for Water and Environment and Dr Elioda Tuwesigye, the Sheema North County MP and also Minister of State for Health in charge of General Duties, have openly opposed Bishop Katoneene’s activities and visits in Sheema District.