18 June 2012

Uganda: Rukungiri Welcomes Jim Muhwezi's Acquittal

Residents of Rujumbura County, Rukungiri district have welcomed the acquittal of former Ministers Jim Muhwezi and Dr. Alex Kamugisha over charges of theft and causing financial loss.

However, the state has maintained embezzlement and office abuse charges against them alongside Hon Mike Mukula.

The Anti-Corruption court sitting in Kampala on Friday dropped the charges which the two former health ministers have been facing since 2009 over the loss of sh1.6 billion under the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) saying that there was no evidence linking them to the theft.

The two ministers who hail from Rujumbura contested against each other in the 2011 elections for the Rujumbura county MP seat and Muhwezi trounced Kamugisha. The contest left the entire district divided.

Several residents who talked to this reporter said that their acquittal was great news and the two former ministers can now concentrate on repairing their image.

Emmy Turyabagyenyi , a trader in Rukungiri Town said that the development was good for the future of Rujumbura and Rukungiri district as a whole since they are major political players in the area.

"Their image was dented but since they have been absolved, their political careers are back on track," Turyabagyenyi said.

Chris Kagayano, a councilor in Bwamabara Sub County said that during the elections, people were concerned about the status of the two politicians and were hesitant to vote for either of them

The L5 Chairman Rukungiri Charles Byabakama said that it was a very good decision by the court to drop the charges because after all they did not steal the money as alleged.

"These are our leaders and we hold them in high esteem therefore letting them off the hook is good for us all," Byabakama said.

Muhwezi has been the area MP since 1996 after beating Charles Rwomushana but Kamugisha has vowed to unseat Muhwezi in the next elections.

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