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Auditor General: The OPM failed to distribute goats and mabaati in Karamoja

Karamoja Affiars Minister, Agnes Nandutu being led to awaiting Uganda Prison pickup last year. The iron sheet she is alleged to have stolen are reportedly part of those that are held at court. PHOTO URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The latest report by the Auditor General says the Office of the Prime Minister failed to properly coordinate and monitor the delivery and distribution of the goats in Karamoja.

It says the anomaly resulted in the delivery of less than the intended number of goats. The findings are parts of the audit into the implementation of Affirmative Action Programs under the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is mandated with the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of Affirmative Action Programmes meant to address historical challenges that were experienced in disadvantaged regions of the country.

Karamoja is part of those regions. It was specifically supposed to be supplied by goats during the financial years 2021/2022 and 2022/2023. About 25.3 billion shillings was disbursed for the exercise.

However, the Auditor General, John Muwanga, and his team found that the goat distribution project did not go on as planned. It said OPM did not utilize funds amounting to UGX.1.16Bn meant for the procurement of goats for the Karamoja region during the FYR 2022/2023.

The auditors further found that while each beneficiary was supposed to receive 16 goats, some beneficiaries got less than the required numbers, with others receiving as low as one (1) goat.

The report said out of the 73,900 goats procured, only 73,708 goats worth UGX.25.54Bn were distributed, leaving 192 goats worth UGX.64.18Mn unaccounted for.

“Out of the sample of 107 beneficiaries, I was only able to visit and interview 76 beneficiaries who acknowledged receipt of 1,116 goats worth UGX.0.39bn,” Muwanga noted.

He said the balance of 31 beneficiaries could not be located since these had relocated from their known addresses.   “Out of 76 beneficiaries visited, 36 had 182 goats worth UGX.72.99Mn, and the balance of 934 goats worth UGX.0.31Bn had either been rustled or had died” read part of the report.

The Auditor General said noted that the Office of the Prime Minister OPM did not undertake adequate needs assessment to inform the planning for this intervention.

“Interviews with 76 beneficiaries indicated that the breeds of the goats supplied could not survive the Karamoja region’s weather conditions, which could explain the high death rates,” said Muwanga in a report he handed to the Speaker of Parliament early in the week.

He said the lack of adequate planning and supervision of the intervention resulted in implementation challenges such as delays in procuring, delivering, and accounting for the goats.

The Accounting Officer reportedly explained that the guidelines for distribution of goats were issued to the beneficiary districts however, during the implementation of the exercise, the district committees deviated from the guidelines and decided to spread the animals so that many households would benefit.

The report continues to generate debate as some insisted that the President needs to overhaul the office of the prime ministers which has over the years not been of scandals. The Auditor General further investigated the controversial iron sheet scandal that led to the arrest and detention of Ministers Goretti Kitutu, Agnes Nandutu, and Amos Lugoloobi. The three were bailed out of Luzira Prison pending trial.

They through Kitutu wrote to the President asking to be pardoned.  None of the Ministers has spoken out to deny a letter allegedly written by Kitutu in which she told the president that they made mistakes.

Kitutu was this week supposed to face the IGG over fresh claims on how she used money allocated through a supplementary budget.   The Auditor General said he undertook an audit of the procurement and distribution of 35,164 iron sheets for the financial years 2022/2023 totaling to UGX.2.43Bn.

He found that out of the 35,164 iron sheets procured by the Ministry, only 15,272 (43%) iron sheets had been distributed and the balance of 21,332 (57%) iron sheets worth UGX.1.47Bn were still in the OPM stores in Namanve. But Kitutu in the letter to the President had indicated that more iron sheets had been disbursed and distributed in Karamoja.

She reported that only Napak district didn’t have all the intended beneficiaries receive the iron sheets. “ Your Excellency on Saturday 16th December 2023, I received a call from the Acting Under Secretary, Mr. Nobert Kisirabo that he had received information from the stores’ management that there were only 1, 344 iron sheets remaining in the OPM stores in Namanve” reported Kitutu “This leaves a shortage of 11,006 (Eleven thousand and six) iron sheets and yet the district of Napak has not received” she added.

The Auditor General said out of the 55 beneficiaries he sampled, he  was only able to interview 24 beneficiaries who received 2,043 iron sheets worth UGX.0.14Bn.

“ The 31 beneficiaries could not be traced at the time of inspection. 17 of the 24 beneficiaries had not utilised the iron sheets because they did not have houses on which to use the iron sheets. This points to weaknesses within the planning for this intervention” said the report.

The Auditor General observed that the delayed distribution of iron sheets negates the purpose for which the iron sheets were procured

“The Accounting Officer explained that the delayed distribution of the iron sheets was occasioned by the investigations that were being carried out by various anti-corruption agencies like Police and Inspectorate of Government (IG). The issuance and distribution of iron sheets was halted due to the ongoing investigations by the anti-corruption agencies. The Accounting Officer further explained that the guidelines shall be put in place to ensure that iron sheets are distributed to only beneficiaries that have structures,” The report comes at a time when would-be beneficiaries in Karamoja have raised complaints about the delay in having the iron sheets distributed.

URN has seen a memo written by one Kayongo M David, A Senior Assistant Secretary at the Karamoja Affairs Ministry in which he explains the 11,006 iron sheet shortage. The Memo said the memo arose as a result of people who have not returned the iron sheets as directed by the President and those which are still at the CIID headquarters in Kibuli as exhibits.

Those reportedly included the 1000 presented to court in the Agnes Nandutu case and 4000 others not yet presented to court and cannot be released by the Police.

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URN

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