21 October 2018

Uganda: Museveni Sacks Six Over Rot in Education Ministry

President Museveni has directed that six senior government officials in the Ministry of Education be relieved over their duties. The directive is in relation to a series of scandals which this newspaper has reported about in the recent past.

The President has also directed that the Contracts Committee of the same ministry be "disbanded with immediate effect" in relation to the "mishandling of the process for procuring furniture for selected primary schools in Uganda under the Ministry of Education and Sports".

Officials whose sacking the President ordered in a letter dated October 1, a copy of which Sunday Monitor has seen, have since handed over their respective offices to their juniors. The reason all the officials gave for handing over office is that they had "accumulated annual leave".

Background

On July 7, Saturday Monitor, basing on leaked audit reports and insider accounts, detailed some of the allegations against top officials at the Education ministry, including massive corruption, abuse of office, fictitious procurements and embezzlement of public resources spanning more than 20 years.

To date, the ministry is yet to officially respond to the allegations which we first presented to them on June 29, despite promises and threats to counter the same.

The most prominent of those who the President directed to be removed from office is Mr Daniel Nkaada, the ministry's commissioner for basic education. Mr Nkaada's name appeared several times in a dossier presented to the Inspectorate of Government for investigations.

In 2012, a Judicial Commission of inquiry into the mismanagement of Universal Primary Education and Universal Secondary Education programmes recommended that Mr Nkaada and others be investigated with a view of prosecuting them for their alleged roles in the mismanagement of the two programmes.

"The following persons are relieved of their duties in the ministry and deployed elsewhere with immediate effect," Mr Museveni's letter reads, in part.

Others fired are Mr Philly Mpaata, a quantity surveyor with Uganda Teacher and School Effectiveness Project (UTSEP), Mr William Hasoho, a procurement specialist at UTSEP, and Mr Thaddeus Lugolobi, who the IGG ordered to refund Shs8.2m last year over the mismanagement of an emergency construction programme.

On that occasion, Mr Nkaada was ordered to refund Shs10,080,000.

Also relieved of his duties on the orders of the President is Mr Ambrose Ruyoka, a ministry official attached to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) project and one Mr Gillian Okello.

The members of the ministry's contracts committee which Mr Museveni has ordered to be disbanded are Ismail Mulindwa, the commissioner in charge of private schools (chairperson), Mr Alfred Kyaka, an assistant commissioner in charge of secondary education, Mr Claudia Arwako, Mr Cuthbert Muyala and Faith Nyamwenge from the Attorney General's chambers.

Sources say the President and First Lady Janet Museveni, the minister of Education, were alarmed when allegations of simmering rot at the ministry became public. On several occasions, sources say, Ms Museveni demanded answers from top ministry officials on the allegations.

Background

Cover blown. The tip of the iceberg manifested in several contracts worth billions of shillings to purchase furniture for schools across the country which were awarded to a specific foreign company (name withheld).

It is alleged that some ministry officials have been giving the company an unfair advantage to their benefit, over local companies by setting prequalification terms that local companies cannot fulfil. The said company officials would then pay kickbacks to the officials.

In two separate contracts worth Shs2b and Shs7b respectively, President Museveni reportedly investigated the matter and zeroed down on several officials whose sacking he ordered.

Museveni observation. In the October 1 letter, Mr Museveni points out "persistent lack of seriousness by elements in the public service", which he says is a major hindrance to efforts to empower Ugandans.

"It must be stopped," the President writes.

"Last month, I chaired two meetings in which I expressed my displeasure at the manner in which the above [furniture] procurement was handled by officials in the Ministry of Education and Sports. I told you and the ministers of State that the award of all the tenders under the said procurement to foreign firms upon eliminating our local enterprises from the process was a blatant violation of the government's own "Buy Ugandan Build Uganda" policy and, therefore, unacceptable.

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