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Claims of nepotism, corruption, political influence mar hiring of staff in Bugiri district

Bugiri Chief Administrative Office Martin Kisule.

Wilson Kabweru Kudaga, the acting secretary of Bugiri District Service Commission has been accused for perpetrating the irregularities

Bugiri, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Claims of irregularities have hit the ongoing recruitment of at least 71 staff to oversee operation of the district and the implementation of the Parish Development Model.

Bugiri District Service Commission advertised for the vacant job positions including commercial officer, tourism officer, record officer and principal town agent among others on Nov.15, 2021 but sources have told this publication that jobs were awarded to unqualified candidates.

Four commissioners of district service commission –– Fida Nambi, Rev. Daniel Kiyengo, Mohammed Masingano and Siad Lubanga –charged with the responsibility to carryout recruitment, on June.17, wrote to the Chief Administrative Officer, Martin Kisule Mabanda, copied to the Ministries of public service and local government, chairperson Bugiri District Local Government and Resident District Commissioners pointing fingers at Wilson Kabweru Kudaga, the acting secretary of Bugiri District Service Commission for perpetrating the irregularities.

The commissioners said in the one-page letter that this publication has seen that whereas drawing the shortlists of prospective job applicants is meant to involve commissioners, subject matter specialists and commission secretary, there are a number of cases when the shortlist has been unilaterally made by the secretary.

“As the appointing authority, the commission draws the list of successful candidates and instructs the secretary to forward the same to Chief Administrative Officer for issuance of appointment letters. It is unfortunate that the secretary to the commission has sometimes changed the list by removing some names and replacing them with others,” the commissioners said in a joint letter.

Interestingly, sometimes the replacement for the job positions including Principal Town Agents, Accountant, Probation Officer, Senior Agriculture Officer and Clinical Officer, among others, do not measure according to the interview results, the commissioners said.

“The acting secretary is not transparent and doesn’t not exhibit professionalism…For example, he divulges commission results to some candidates before the commission releases results and the CAO issuing out letters.

“The acting secretary does not also expose to the members letters submitting officers by their supervisors for actions such as a promotion which clearly shows his lack of transparency,” they added.

The commissioners said the entire commission has never had chance to access the list of successful candidates for authentication before the endorsement of the commission chairperson, a practice that has given room to the secretary to tamper with the list for ulterior motives.

Martin Kisule Mabanda, the Bugiri District CAO confirmed to The Independent that he has indeed received the letter from the commissioners and was studying it before to making any decision. He said he is still new having assumed the responsibilities in March this year. “I am still investigating because there’s a lot of sour grapes. I engaged the secretary…and I can tell you that he is doing a good job. No single coin has been paid by a successful applicant. He has ended corruption,” he said.

“So when I asked him to clarify what I am hearing he ‘said those people have received money from the people (who applied) for the jobs and once we know that they have received money, we make sure that those people paying the money don’t get the jobs’…and no single applicant who has paid money is going through.

“I am (therefore) trying to go to the bottom of it. It is not easy but there could be sour grapes because he (secretary) told me that these people got money and that is why they are fighting.”

Mabanda, however, acknowledged that the level of corruption in Bugiri district is high compared to other places he has served.

“… This is the toughest place I have worked. You go home when you are very tired. You can’t even go away (for a few days). They call me for workshops (but) I don’t go because the moment you go, people will take full advantage,” Mabanda added.

Mabanda was posted in district as CAO in March this year following the exit of Ezaruku Kazimiro. However, Kabweru could not be reached for comment as he could not pick our calls amidst repeated attempts.

Genesis of the problem

Multiple sources said once the interested people who had applied for the jobs were shortlisted, the commission started oral interviews on Nove.22. But before the interviews were completed, a politically staged demonstration was carried out by a section of the applicants, especially those who had appeared for the interviews but realized that they had performed poorly.

This prompted the LCV Chairman Davidson Mulumba to verbally halt the commission from continuing with the interviews on Dec.3, 2021. This was followed up by an informal meeting between the district councilors in a home of a senior National Resistance Movement politician in which it was agreed that then Chief Administrative Officer, Ezaruku Kazimiro, writes a letter halting all the commissions’ activities and interdict secretary to the commission with immediate effect.

But in March this year, the commission embarked on the recruitment process again without the resolving the issues earlier raised. On May 14, concerned citizens including some of the aggrieved candidates wrote to the regional manager for the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) to carry out the investigation. However, no feedback has been received.

Some of the aggrieved candidates, who preferred anonymity to speak freely, said a section of the applicants who have been recruited are either related to a section of leaders in the district or are politically connected.

“It is very unfair that people who either failed interviews and or even never participated in the interviews are the ones who have been hired,” one of the shortlisted candidates said.

Bugiri proving to be difficult for CAO’s? 

Over the past three years, Bugiri district seems to have become a nightmare for Chief Administrative Officers. On April. 19, 2019, Ezaruku Kazimiro, who had then worked for just year as CAO for the district requested the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government to be transferred to another district with immediate effect.

He cited unfavorable working environment, unprocedural and unprofessional work methods, lack of mutual respect among key offices on their roles and responsibilities and poor organizational culture as some of the reasons to be transferred.

“You may consider substituting me with a colleague who is familiar with the organizational culture and who can tolerate the working environment and method,” Kazimiro said.

However, Kazimiro’s request was not granted. On Dec.28, 2021, he once again requested to be transferred, this time citing unpredictable working environment and threats which could undermine service delivery in the district.

He said the district had political cliques that victimized and favoured some public officers, compromising objectivity in decision making and implementation.

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