By Our Reporter
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has suspended further distribution of iron sheets already procured for Karamoja and other districts under its affirmative program.
According to a press release dated 23rd February, 2023, distribution of iron sheets to vulnerable groups of people and institutions has been temporarily halted due to the ongoing investigations arising from allegations of theft of some iron sheets especially for Karamoja.
“Distribution shall resume as soon as investigating agencies have concluded with the exercise,” said Geoffrey Sseremba who signed off the statement on behalf of the Permanent Secretary.
The statement also indicates that the Office of the Prime Minister under the Department of Karamoja Affairs received a supplementary funding in the FY 2021/22 to support peace and disarmament in Karamoja.
Part of these funds were used to procure 95,658 iron sheets and 25,514 have so far been distributed leaving a balance of 71,144 in the stores.
Other regions that the OPM procured iron sheets for in the FY 2021/22 are; Northern Uganda (19,170), Teso sub region (4,982), Bunyoro sub region (9,274), Luweero Triangle (6,956) and Disaster Management (23,425).
According to the press statement, the suspension of further distribution is to affect only Karamoja (biggest loser), Teso, Northern Uganda and Disaster Management. The regions of luweero Triangle and Bunyoro received all the iron sheets procured for them.
On 13th February, 2023, Office of the Prime Minister issued a press statement in response to the Saturday 11th February, 2023 arrests of Minister for Karamoja Affairs relatives for allegedly selling relief items meant for Karamoja.
News of the arrests of Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu’s relatives that included her frail mother, Cotilda Kitutu, brother, Michael Nabwoya and nephew, Julius Wabule was broken by New Vision on 13th February, 2023.
According to New Vision, the relatives were caught red-handed selling relief items including 450 irons sheets branded “For Office of the Prime Minister.”
In the statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Keith Muhakanizi, OPM confirmed that they indeed sent through the office of the Minister for Karamoja Affairs iron sheets to support the vulnerable groups in Karamoja.
Muhakanizi identified the intended beneficiaries as; vulnerable groups, interest groups, institutions and Karachunas (Reformed warriors) in Karamoja region.
Whereas in the Monday’s Newvision edition, some of the iron sheets were allegedly meant to be donated to Situumi Primary School and Nambaale Church of Uganda in Namisindwa district, Muhakanizi emphasized that there was never a delivery of iron sheets to Namisindwa district.
“However, we did not send iron sheets to Namisindwa District,” Muhakanizi said in his statement, before adding that “The alleged diversion of iron sheets against the intended purpose shall be investigated and action will be taken against perpetuators including recovery and prosecution.”
The Permanent Secretary has also asked officials from the department of Karamoja Affairs to submit accountabilities for iron sheets that were released.