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Museveni did not order sacking of top EC officials-Justice Byabakama

FILE PHOTO: Justice Byabakama

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Electoral Commission has dismissed reports that its top officials were this week sacked by President Yoweri Museveni. Speaking to journalists on Thursday at the EC headquarters in Kampala, Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi, the EC chairperson said the officials tendered in their application for early retirement citing personal reasons.

At the beginning of this week, news broke that President Yoweri Museveni had ordered the sacking of top eight officials of the commission over allegations of corruption related to the printing of ballot materials for the 2021 elections.

Sam Rwakojo, the long-serving secretary of the commission, the head of public relations department, Jotham Taremwa, the director technical support services, Namugera Pontius and the principle procurement officer, Wanyoto Godfrey had awarded an unqualified company to print ballot materials against the president’s advice to award the same deal to Uganda Printing & Publishing Corporation [UPPC] that had entered a joint venture with a German firm Veridos Identity Solutions GmbH.

But Byabakama feigned ignorance when asked about the real reason why the officials would resign at such a time when the commission is organizing elections.

It should be noted that Rwakoojo’s contract had just been recently renewed. But Byabakma noted that somebody resigning even after their contract has just been renewed is normal in employment.

On the printing of the ballot materials, Byabakama said they have not yet awarded the contract to anybody but the process of identifying the right company is on-going. On the allegations that the IGG is investigating the EC on how they had procured warehouse facilities at 17 billion instead of 6 billion, Byabakama said we weren’t aware of the case.

“I didn’t know the IGG had launched an investigation into the Commission, I just read it in the media. I don’t know whether there is any link to the retirement of the officers,”

The sacking or retirement as Byabakama wants to call it comes at a critical time when the country is in high gear for the 2021 elections. Although Byabakama admitted that they will be affected somehow, he said some systems will help absorb the shock.

“The systems are managed at different levels, sometimes the secretary goes on leave, does it mean that the commission stops running? I want to assure you that the Commission is built on systems, not individuals. There are other persons to manage the work they have been doing.

The commission is moving on and the roadmap will continue to be implemented,” Byabakama said. He however added that they have started on a process of identifying people who will hold these positions at least in the interim before substantive replacements are appointed.

In the last two months, the President has been on a sacking spree of officials in organisations such as URA, NIRA, Civil Aviation Authority among others accusing them of corruption and frustrating government programs. Those who at first had told colleagues that they were resigning because of personal reasons were stunned when the president let the cat loose by saying they had been sacked because of corruption.



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