The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit in State House, Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, has said that government wants the genuine claims for the supply of tea seedlings in Southwestern Uganda’s Kisoro district to be paid.
“We want the genuine claims to be paid. Payments have been delayed because of the fake claims. We shall arrest the thieves. There are reports of collusion between officials of Kisoro district and NAADS to defraud government of Shs7.3 billion in false claims,” she said.
Nakalema made the remarks yesterday at Kisoro district main hall where she addressed stakeholders/ claimants for the supply of tea seedlings in the district where she led investigations following complaints from tea nursery bed operators who have not received payment totaling to Shs7.3 billion. The claims range from 2015 to-date. Among those in attendance were tea nursery bed operators, extension workers, Sub-County Chiefs and local leaders.
She said that a joint visit of the Anti-Corruption Unit and NAADs had been made to the area from April 15-16, 2019 to establish the facts on the ground; She noted that anomalies in the claims involving nursery bed operators were detected in the six Sub-Counties Chali, Nyakabumule, Nyabwishenya, Musoora, Nyasubuye and Busanza. She revealed that there were inflated numbers of seedlings allegedly supplied, on top of ghost gardens and that attempts have been made to effect payments through non-existing tea nursery bed operators.
Nakalema said issues to be addressed include how procurement process was done and how the amount of money to be paid had been arrived at. She said that the nursery bed operators should explain the inconsistencies in the claims. She emphasized that Operation Wealth Creation and NAADS’ officials must explain the facts pertaining to the claims after noting that only 50 per cent of the claims had been settled.
She further stressed that NAADS, Operation Wealth Creation, district officials and extension workers must make statements at police. She directed Charles Byaruhanga of Garuga Group and Kisoro district LC5 Chairman, Abel Bizimana to report to police in Kampala. She revealed that Gabriel Nkuriye, Emmanuel Mubangizi, Justus Rukare, Solomon Basaze and Sabiiti Alex were under investigation.
During the deliberations, the police arrested James Agaba who is a district councilor for attempting to block the ongoing investigations and also for being unruly during the exercise.
The Executive Director of NAADS, Dr. Samuel Mugasi, said the goal was to eliminate the thieves and pay the genuine claims. He commended the farmers for their commitment to work and also tasked them to expose the characters that inflated the number of seedlings supplied.
Bufumbira North MP, John Kamara Nizeyimana, talked of claims that 38 million seedlings were planted in an area that could only accommodate two million seedlings.
The farmers complained over the misconduct of Musinguzi Garuga over the number of seedlings that had been supplied.