What you need to know:
- Sources say the investigators will examine the criteria of employment at Ubos, salaries of staff, as well as the budget and expenditure.
The ombudsman has summoned at least 18 top officials from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) as investigations into alleged victimisation of staff, conflict of interest and corruption gathers pace.
The Inspectorate of Government’s spokesperson, Ms Ali Munira, confirmed that some of the officials started recording statements last week. She added that the officials include five people who were last week interdicted by the Finance minister, Mr Matia Kasaija.
These include the Ubos executive director, Dr Chris Mukiza, the chairperson board of directors, Dr Albert Byamugisha, Dr Wamala, a board member, Ms Florence Obiro, the acting head of finance, and Mr David Ochieng, the head of internal audit.
Ms Munira, however, declined to reveal identities of the other 13 officials who are said to be managers.
“We are looking at all the allegations against them in terms of their jurisdiction and what role they could have played...’’ Ms Munira said.
Ms Munira was also cagey about details of the investigations.
Ubos though has been in the eye of the storm since Daily Monitor broke a story last week of the interdiction of five of its top bosses.
“Arising out of preliminary investigations led by the Inspectorate of Government into allegations of victimisation, conflict of interest and corruption at Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the Inspectorate of Government has directed me to interdict/suspend you immediately,” Mr Kasaija wrote.
The interdiction of officials followed an October 19 directive to Mr Kasaija from the Inspector General of Government, Ms Beti Kamya.
Ms Kamya revealed that preliminary investigations in the management of Ubos provide “sufficient ground for the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to continue with the investigations to their logical conclusion.”
Asked about the logical conclusion, Ms Munira said while the inspectorate is expediting its investigations, it takes a long time to verify information. Sources privy to the investigations told us that the IGG would among others examine all certified copies of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) payment schedules and records. She will also pore over bank accounts of staff who allegedly received the funds, and all other payments outside the IFMS.
The investigators, our sources said, will also examine the criteria of employment at Ubos, salaries of staff, as well as the budget and expenditure for the Financial Years 2020/2021 and 2021/2022. Sources, however, told Daily Monitor that the computer that was allegedly used to make the fictitious transactions has since gone missing at Ubos.
Our inquiries show that the ombudsman acted after receiving a dossier from President Museveni through the Principal Private Secretary, Dr Kenneth Omona. The dossier that was received on October 21, 2021 detailed alleged corruption, nepotism, abuse of office, irregular billing, and favouritism at Ubos.
A whistleblower reportedly petitioned President Museveni on August 10, alleging, among other things, corruption, victimisation, and illegal suspension of employees at the statistics agency.
Details contained in the 94-page dossier, a copy of which this newspaper has seen, chronicle alleged fictitious work during the pandemic-induced lockdown, costing at least Shs2b.
The whistleblower alleges that the money was withdrawn by top officials and wired to bank accounts of junior staff who would then be instructed to withdraw and return the cash.
We have also established that there is ongoing unrest among staff members in Ubos. Our insiders say this has killed motivation and independence. It comes after Dr Mukiza wrote a memo to all the staff and the board on May 16, 2019, informing them of the staff rotation and deployment.
According to the memo, which this newspaper has seen, at least 29 staff were rotated from their old positions. The affected staff, however, petitioned the then chairperson of the board, Dr Robbin Kibuka. They expressed unfairness in the changes.
The board later rescinded the first rotation list because it had created a new division of Risk Management, which was not in the structure and there was no budget for it.
Dr Mukiza later wrote to all staff and the board on May 23, 2019, rescinding his earlier communication about staff communication. He noted that there were no resources to implement the staff rotation exercise.
“...this is to hence advise that the staff rotation and deployment exercise has been postponed until further notice,” he wrote in a memo.
However, after the expiry of the board on June 30, 2020, Dr Mukiza without a board in place made massive staff changes.
The changes were confirmed in an internal memo dated July 3, announcing new roles for at least 22 staff.
The aggrieved staff who declined to be named told Daily Monitor that the rotation of staff was irregular because there was no board to rubber-stamp them.
Dr Mukiza, however, further made changes in the Ubos structure. The changes were confirmed in a July 14 letter to all principal officers.
“Henceforth, the current directors and division managers are to be HoDs. The office holders will maintain their benefits up to the expiry of individual contracts,” he wrote.
Ubos’ head of human resource, Mr Charles Walube, confirmed the changes. He, however, referred our inquiries to the acting executive director who didn’t also answer our calls.