Butaleja sinks under weight of corruption

A vehicle wades through a flooded section of a road that connects Namutumba and Butaleja districts. PHOTO/RONALD SEEBE

What you need to know:

  • Butaleja District was created by an Act of Parliament and became operational on July 1, 2005 to bring services nearer to the people.

Locals in Butaleja District have raised concern over continued poor service delivery due to rampant corruption.

They say access to better education, healthcare and roads has been compromised.

The Inspector General of Government (IGG) is currently investigating about 16 cases of corruption in the district.

Monitor learnt that some of the misused funds were meant for development projects, which have since stalled.

Mr James Wire, Busolwe hospital board chairperson, said: “Look at the schools built or renovated using government funds, they are in a [sorry ]state yet contractors were paid in full.” 

Mr Wire said materials supplied by the central government hardly reach the recipients in their full quantities.
“Take the example of Mama Kits that are meant to be freely given to pregnant women. These have been turned into gadgets for sale,” he said.

He said staff members involved in providing services to the district through their own companies should be investigated.

IGG is investigating cases that include alleged division of funds meant for gravelling roads in Busolwe Town Council, mismanagement and embezzlement of government funds in Naweyo Sub-county and mismanagement of resources.

Other cases are alleged injustices in the recruitment system, misappropriation of funds by the Senior Assistant Secretary of Busaba Sub-county and recruitment of 13 parish chiefs, who were not cleared by Public Service.

Mr David Mulabi, a resident, said unless corruption is fought, access to services will remain a challenge.
“For example, the district and sub-counties get funds annually for their respective roads but there is hardly any work done,” he said.

Mr Mulabi, who is also the former MP aspirant, said corrupt officials have created their own system which controls the affairs of the district.

“There are poor accountability mechanisms and value-for-money audits. Some MPs are protecting the implicated officials apparently to avoid [embarrassing] the district,” he said. 

A police detective at Butaleja Central Police Station told Monitor last Friday that they are investigating one of the district officials on allegations of receiving bribes in exchange of jobs. 

“We have reports that some of the job applicants paid money between Shs3m-Shs9m to some district officials on top sexually abusing female applicants,” the source said.

The Naweyo Sub-county chairman, Mr Boola Miya, said corruption has persisted in the district mainly because people in power benefit from it.

“This is the reason why our district performs badly in service delivery compared to other districts,” Mr Miya said.

Mr Jimmy Hasahya, a resident, wonders why public servants who allegedly engage in corruption are only given transfers instead of terminating their duties. 

“There is protectionism, which promotes corruption and it must stop if we want to have a corrupt free district,” Mr Hasahya said. 

The Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Ms Hajira Namagogwe, said a number of cases are being investigated by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC), State House Anti-Corruption Unit, and police.

“For instance, the Butaleja District Principal Human Resource Officer, Mr George Hyuha, the then secretary district service commission, was interdicted by the CAO for recruiting the excess 13 parish chiefs. He is still under investigation by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit. And if found guilty will be produced in court,” Ms Namagogwe said.

She said: “Anyone who will be caught stealing government funds will be charged for abuse of office and causing financial loss to the district because it affects service delivery.”  

Background 

Butaleja District was created by an Act of Parliament and became operational on July 1, 2005 to bring services nearer to the people.  It was carved out of Tororo District and is made up of 14 sub-counties and 10 town councils.

A new report of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee also detailed how Butaleja District technical officials connived with contractors to defraud the taxpayer of at least Shs2b.

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