Kampala – Legislators from Karamoja have called for the immediate resignation of the Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Mary Goretti Kitutu and her deputy Agnes Nandutu over mismanagement of relief items.
The two ministers are accused of mismanaging iron sheets, goats and maize flour meant for the people of the Karamoja sub-region.
While presenting a motion during the Tuesday, plenary sitting, Pian County Member of Parliament, Remigio Achia said Kitutu diverted iron sheets meant for Karimojongs and gifted them to ministers who were not on the beneficiary list.
“Integrity, honesty and patriotism were belittled in this process. Whereas iron sheets were procured, the minister distributed these iron sheets to her friends and colleagues on the Front Bench and none of these people were on the list of beneficiaries,” Achia said.
On 22 March 2022, Kitutu is said to have issued guidelines to all Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) from Karamoja on how to identify beneficiaries of the goats and iron sheets.
Such beneficiaries included older persons, vulnerable youth and Karachunas (reformed cattle rustlers).
According to Achia, each beneficiary was supposed to get 26 iron sheets and 16 goats. However, few of the relief items reached the intended beneficiaries.
“Less than 35 per cent of the goats have been distributed to the intended beneficiaries and in districts such as Napak, 70 per cent of the goats died within two weeks, in Kotido district, 80 per cent of the goats died owing to ill health and failure of the goats to adapt to the new environment,” he said.
Achia in his motion that was seconded and adopted by the majority members said that the minister’s actions amount to abuse of office, misconduct, misbehaviour, corruption, diversion of public resources and breach of Oath of Allegiance and that of minister.
“Parliament through its relevant committee should inquire into the alleged mismanagement of relief items in the OPM and that the Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mary Goretti Kitutu and the Minister of State for Karamoja Affairs, Agnes Nandutu should resign to allow proper investigations into the matter,” he said.
Napak Woman MP Faith Nakut called for MPs’ unity and cooperation in investigating this matter which she referred to as a test of Parliament’s willingness to fight corruption.
Speaker Anita Among referred the motion to the Committee on Presidential Affairs and report back in two weeks.
This comes after the Karamoja Parliamentary Group on 15 February 2023 petitioned the Speaker over the same and it was administratively referred to the same committee.
Whereas the committee has already commenced the probe, the Speaker said it was important to regularise the motion on the floor of Parliament as per the Rules of Procedure.
In Financial Year 2021/2022, Parliament passed a Shs39 billion supplementary budget to OPM to among others support the disarmament process and support of livelihoods of Karimojong vulnerable people through provision of agriculture inputs like goats as an emergency intervention to improve peace and eliminate cattle rustling in the region.
It was agreed that goats at the cost of Shs22 billion and 100,000 iron sheets at Shs8 billion be procured while Shs800 million be directed to support the regional council, Karamoja Parliamentary Group retreat and the peace caravan.
According to the Karamoja MPs, only 650 iron sheets were distributed to the entire sub-region, while Shs8.2 billion out of the Shs39 billion remains unaccounted for.
In 2022/2023, government again earmarked Shs135 billion for the purchase of maize flour and beans for a period of three months for an estimated population of 518,000 persons and other parts of the country.
The MPs say the Karamoja Affairs Minister diverted 500 bags of maize to feed UPDF soldiers contrary to the original purpose of feeding children in primary schools across the sub-region.