Kalangala village Sacco members lose millions to scams

Uganda's legal tender. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • The sacco, which was established in 2009 and has 884 members,  had grown  to Shs448m before it faced challenges.

Members of two Sacco associations in Jaana Island and Lwazi Landing Site in Bubeke Sub- county, Kalangala District, have lost hope of recovering their savings amounting to Shs100m that was allegedly swindled by its managers a year ago.

The members of Birungi Village Savings and Loan Association and Jafiya Village Savings and Loan Association reportedly learnt about the missing funds in  August  last year  at a meeting convened to share their savings.

Mr Lamech Ssebunya , the chairperson Lwazi Village, said although one suspect, Hussein Mukasa, was arrested and later remanded to  Kalangala Prison, there is no hope of  recovering the money .

“Despite having one of the suspects on  remand, we don’t see any hope of recovering the money and many members are struggling to pay debts,” Mr Mukasa told Daily Monitor yesterday. Mr Tomson Ssekajigo, a sacco member, said they were unable to transport witnesses from Bubeke to court on Buggala Island.

“We  spend between Shs100,000 and  Shs150,000 on transport every time we appear in court, which is too much money and we have missed several court sittings ,”  he said.

Members of Sanyu Lyamukozi village savings group also lost Shs62m after the sacco managers vanished with the money.

Mr Cyprian Kavuma, the district commercial officer, called for sensitisation of village saving groups on finance literacy to avoid more losses.

“I also warn our people against joining unregistered saccos, cash rounds and other saving groups because it is  very difficult to monitor their operations,”  he said.

Mr Rajab Ssemakula, the district chairperson, advised sacco members to always open up bank accounts so that they can keep their money safely.

“I appeal to government agencies  such as Microfinance Support Centre and Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority to always plan for grassroot monitoring of these saving groups so that our people don’t lose their money to thieving officials,” he said.

Records at Kalangala Magistrate’s Court indicate that 37  cases had been reported against fraudulent Saaco managers by end of May.

In 2019, members of  Bufumira Sacco in Kalangala also  complained that the organisation had recorded a loss of Shs137m after the accountant and manager disappeared.

The duo reportedly forged signatures, issuing fake receipts and cheques to transfer all the money to their personal accounts. 

The sacco, which was established in 2009 and has 884 members,  had grown  to Shs448m before it faced challenges.

Other troubled Saccos
Many Saccos in Masaka Sub-region are struggling to stay afloat due to alleged mismanagement while others have since collapsed.

For example, Kakuuto Micro Finance in Kyotera District  with more than 13, 000 members and a loan portfolio of more than Shs2b until 2012 when the then manager reportedly disappeared with more than Shs1b.

Since then, the sacco has since been struggling to pay back the money to its customers and loans .
Recently, members of Masaka Elders Sacco also complained of mismanagement of the organisation.