By Max Patrick Ocaido
Members of Parliament have vowed to call for interdiction of the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Christine Guwatudde Kintu over alleged abuse of resettlement program.
This comes after on Tuesday, State minister for Disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru presented on the floor of Parliament a report on the impact of the disaster damage in the country justifying Shs106bn that has been earmarked by government to handle the disasters.
According to Ecweru, out of the Shs106bn, Shs40bn will be for food relief, Shs26bn will be used by the Ministry of Education to repair 356 schools that have been damaged, while Shs39bn will be used by the Ministry of Agriculture to procure fast maturing seeds as 33 districts have lost plantations due to strong winds and Shs1.6bn will be used by the Ministry of Health to deal with diseases and also repair health facilities.
Whereas Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah deferred debate on Ecweru’s statement to today (Thursday), MPs are boiling with fury why government should go ahead to earmark Shs106bn for resettlement of displaced persons yet previous monies remain unaccounted for.
The MPs have vowed to call for sacking of OPM PS Guwatudde once debate resumes today or next week. Guwatudde has at the helm of several scandals at OPM in regards to refugee crisis and resettlement of landslide victims.
As soon as Ecweru had finished presenting his statement, some MPs were seen so much agitated to start debate where they wanted Guwatudde to relinquish her position.
In today’s Order Paper, there is a motion for resolution of Parliament urging government to intervene in matters of resettlement, disaster prevention and control in Namisindwa district. The motion that is being spearheaded by MPs Grace Namukhula (Namisindwa Woman MP), John Baptist Nambeshe (Manyija County MP) and Apollo Masika (Bubulo East MP) is to pile pressure on PS Guwatudde calling for her resignation for incompetency. MPs accuse Guwatudde of abuse of office and abuse of public funds considering that she continues to operate a Ministry without a National policy for Disaster preparedness and management since 2011. This explains why the Ministry is not swift to mitigate disasters affecting the country. Guwatudde’s name was also raised in the scandal involving resettlement plan for landslides victims in Bulambuli district.
The Presidential Committee report in its recommendation said that OPM under the supervision of Guwatudde irregularly procured land for resettlement of landslides victims. However, the report was dropped late last year to the relief of top OPM officials who were implicated including Guwatudde. Some MPs attempted to oppose the exoneration of OPM officials, but were defeated. They vowed to wait for Guwatudde in the next chapter.
The MPs have also vowed to adopt the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report once it comes on the floor for debate that shows how Guwatudde’s OPM accumulated an irregular increase in the arrears from Shs86.48 million in 2015 to Shs797.40m in 2016 and Shs1.566bn in 2017.
The Auditor General, John Muwanga in his report arrayed fears that such accumulations of arrears could endanger service delivery while attracting costs on litigation.
“Ms Guwatudde should be relieved of her duties, on grounds that a mischarge constitutes and offence punishable by sacking under section 79 (1)(q) of the Public Finance management Act, 2015,” the PAC report reads.