MPs Demand Disbandment of Karamoja Affairs Ministry

Legislators from the Karamoja sub-region are seeking a forensic audit for the relief assistance that was sent to their area following allegations of gross mismanagement.

The team under the umbrella Karamoja Parliamentary Group accused the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs of misappropriating relief items meant to aid the vulnerable population. The MPs cited an allocation of 39 billion Shillings approved by Parliament through a supplementary budget for the pacification of Karamoja and another 135 billion Shillings for the procurement of relief food which has since been grossly mismanaged.

Pian County MP Remigio Achia says that at least 22 out of the 39 billion was not delivered to the intended beneficiaries. The money, he says, was meant to procure goats, while five billion was to purchase 100,000 pieces of iron sheets for 5,000 disarmed youth.

According to Achia, the Ministry of Karamoja says it spent 25 billion Shillings to purchase goats yet on the ground, only 35 per cent of the goats have been supplied to the vulnerable beneficiary youth and women groups.

The MPs also accused the sector Ministers Maria Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu of mismanaging 3,500 bags of maize that were in Namalu Prison Farm. The maize was meant to feed primary school children during the extended COVID-19 lockdown under the Feed Karamoja Project.

Napak District Woman MP Faith Nakut demanded that the two Ministers should step aside as a good practice to allow proper investigations into the allegations.  She adds that in the absence of their resignation, the government should consider disbanding the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs for failing its purpose.

Dodoth West MP Ben Baatom Koryang observed that the Ministers conceived their ill plan by rejecting the proposal by Karamoja leaders to distribute iron sheets and goats through local suppliers.

The MPs explained that Internal Security Organization – ISO, State House Anti-Corruption Unit and Special Forces Command – SFC have tracked the iron sheets marked ‘Office of the Prime Minister’ destined for Karamoja in villages across Namisindwa and Bududa Districts where the two Ministers hail from respectively.

The MPs now want forensic audits conducted on both the procurement and distribution of iron sheets and goats to the intended beneficiaries as well as the food stores in Namalu Prison Farm. They have also petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to institute a Select Committee to do an independent and in-depth investigation into the allegations to establish the facts.

Following media reports of the alleged diversion and sale of iron sheets destined for Karamoja under the Affirmative Action Programmes, Keith Muhakanizi, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister requested the Karamoja Affairs Ministry to submit accountability of the iron sheets.

In his letter dated February 13, 2023, Muhakanizi called on the responsible institutions of government to speed up investigations on the allegations and bring the culprits to book. Attempts by URN to seek a response from the two Ministers were futile as their known cell phone numbers were switched off.

For years, the Karamoja region has suffered the ravages of insecurity and famine that has claimed lives and still counting. As the government and development partners seek lasting solutions, the humanitarian crisis in Karamoja has led to the displacement of families from their homes to neighbouring districts.

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