1 February 2013

Uganda: MPs Probe Businessman Over Supplying 'Air'

Armed with delivery notes, local purchase orders, the managing director of Marritex General Supplies, Justus Tumwine, asked MPs on the public accounts committee why he had been summoned to appear before them.

Tumwine said he had done little business with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the money involved was very little.

"I carried out only three transactions with the OPM. The money involved was too little. I am surprised that I have been summoned. Here I am," he said as he tabled a delivery note reportedly signed by one Musisi, a store keeper in the OPM.

However, MPs grilled Tumwine for reportedly supplying "air" to the OPM instead of food worth sh164m. This was on Tuesday after the committee reviewed the food ledger. The MPs ascertained that although the delivery note was stamped and signed, no food was ever delivered.

"How can you ask us why you are appearing before this committee when you actually supplied air to the Government?" committee chairman Paul Mwiru asked.

When the MPs challenged Tumwine for proof, he said he delegated an agent to purchase and deliver the food to OPM.

"If the food ledger does not indicate the supplies, maybe the food was never delivered. I gave money to one of my boys, so I don't know whether he delivered the food or not," he said.

Between June 2010 and July 2012, Tumwine was contracted by the OPM to supply it with 300 bags of posho, 240 bags of beans as well as stationery .

Due to his conflicting statements, the committee handed him to the parliamentary Police for questioning.

Tumwine amused MPs when he criticised them for acting very fast and handing him to the Police.

Next to appear before the committee was Dauda Kawesi, the proprietor of two companies which supplied food to OPM.

He was grilled for about two hours for receiving sh1.2b above what was owed to him for the supplies. Kawesi confessed receiving excess money, which he said he used to promptly withdraw and hand over to the principal accountant, Godfrey Kazinda.

The MPs also grilled Amos Mwani, the director of five companies, including Christ Embassy Ltd and Jesus Enterprises over his dealings with Kazinda.

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