Somehow, in 2019, Walimu succeeded to get the President to issue an instruction that all teachers’ SACCO money goes to unions. MSC in five instalments between November 2019 and August 2020 sent Shs10.8 billion to UTCSCU with whom it had an MOU. The money was paid in instalments because it had been lent out to SACCOs. It had to be recovered over a period and given to UTCSCU.
Having failed to put their fingers on the Shs10.8 billion, Walimu, using its political connections and knack for intrigue, now went to Uganda’s gullible press, incompetent police and sleeping DPP and claimed the money is lost. All these three institutions, in Uganda’s characteristic culture of working on rumours and gossip swung into action to arrest, detain, charge and publicise a “huge corruption scandal.”
Yet at the time police arrested and detained the top officials of MSC, when the DPP sanctioned the charges of embezzlement and attempted fraud of Shs10.8 billion, when the media screamed with the story that Shs11 billion had gone missing, there was Shs7 billion on the account of UTCSCU, the Shs3.8 billion had been given to the teachers’ SACCOs and all transactions are there.
So Mujuni and Mwebembezi were arrested, kept at Jinja Road Police for two nights, taken to a safe house in Kireka for two nights, then taken to court and charged with embezzlement and conspiracy to defraud government and sent to Kitalya prison for three days, then released on bail. It is now that police are running around looking for the most basic evidence to support their case.
The bail terms too were stringent: each accused person had to deposit cash bail of Shs30 million and a land title worth Shs500 million and above. Apparently there was a claim that there was some power behind all this! But which power would promote this impunity?
Media and gossip alleged that MSC gave money to SACCOs, which were run as family or personal fiefdoms – that in some of them you would find the treasurer is the wife of the chairman of the SACCO, the son the administrative head etc. I would be surprised if there existed many teachers’ SACCOs that were not run this way in Uganda. If one demanded institutionalisation of the type we find in rich countries, even the state of Uganda would not qualify – just look at the president and his minister of education to begin with.
Someone told me that police were trying to measure MSC on the standards of commercial banks. But MSC goes for the small and excluded whom banks cannot lend. The risk of losing money in SACCOs is here is high. That is why banks do not lend to them. The regulations are deliberately lax in order to include the poor and vulnerable.
The real organisation to investigate is UTSCCU, now Walimu. They created a name deliberately designed to get money from the ministry of Education. When challenged they changed, thereby admitting to getting money by false pretence. If police and the DPP are serious, let them ask UTSCCU, now Walimu Union, the following questions: what has happened to the Shs15.8 billion? How far has it grown? What value has it created for teachers as a revolving fund? What we know, however, is that the accountants in the ministry of education who handled this money resigned after giving it out because they did not need to work anymore.