Gross anomalies that have bogged the implementation of Emyooga programme in Amolatar District have put the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Ms Eva Kwesiga Naalongo, on the spot.
Unlike other districts that have already disbursed funds to intended beneficiaries and their leaders, the situation in Amolatar is peculiar. Eighteen Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (Saccos) have not had money disbursed to them 11 months on since the programme kicked off.
So far, the government has disbursed Shs970 million to 36 Saccos in Kioga County and Kioga North Constituency. The 36 Saccos — with 18 in each of the two constituencies — comprise 411 groups generated from all the parishes within Amolatar.
The irregularities in the implementation of Emyooga were laid bare during a parliamentary committee inquiry on Tuesday. The inquiry unearthed lack of coordination and team work, with a palpable friction between the district RDC and district chairperson conspicuous.
The parliamentary committee learnt that the RDC allegedly disregarded Microfinance Support Centre and Ministry of Finance guidelines after she disowned 411 groups that the government had already disbursed money to. Ms Naalongo, who chairs the taskforce on Emyooga, is said to have created 317 new groups.
Ms Naalongo is supposed to work with the taskforce in conjunction with Amolatar legislators, the district chairperson and Chief Administrative Officer, among others. But Parliament heard that a one-man show has reportedly ended up with the district unable to dispatch Shs970 million to its intended beneficiaries.
Ms Teddy Ayo, the Amolatar senior commercial officer, said there was gross illegality in the formation of the 317 new groups.
She said: “During the tenure of the former RDC, Ms Lillian Eyal, everything was going on smoothly, but things changed when the [new] RDC came in.”
The chairperson, Mr Geoffrey Ocen, revealed that he last received a report on Emyooga on August 5, 2021. The document reportedly detailed many disturbing anomalies such as failure to hold taskforce meetings.
He said: “I am supposed to be a member of the Emyooga taskforce, but at no single moment was I informed by the chairperson of the taskforce of any activities.”
Mr Michael Orech, a senior community development officer, who at the behest of the RDC is accused of usurping powers of the commercial officer, pleaded his innocence saying he has been “registering, mobilising and sensitising the communities to embrace [Emyooga].”
Mr Orech also admitted that he is not part of the taskforce, but merely works in the office of the district community development officer (DCDO).
Ms Kwesiga said her decision was in the best interest of the Amolatar taskforce on Emyooga, adding that the 411 groups, which were initially formed were not genuine beneficiaries since they were mobilised on radio.
Mr Patrick Otile, the district community development officer, however, said when the pandemic forced the country into a lockdown, accessing the communities to conduct in-person mobilisation and sensitisation was impossible.
Ms Kwesiga nevertheless insists that the “people who were mobilised over radio were not parish-based.”
The RDC, who said she was assigned to make sure Emyooga funds are disbursed and recovered, further said: “If you have not saved, you will not access it (Emyooga). If you save one shilling, you will receive three shillings. There is no shortcut in Emyooga.”
Dr Agnes Atim Apea, the area Woman Member of Parliament, said: “People who have not received the money should be given the fund according to the guidelines. That is our ultimate goal.”
Mr Moses Junior B’tek Okot, the Kioga County Member of Parliament, said they recommended that the RDC be questioned by police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations about her conduct on the Emyooga taskforce.
An initiative on job and wealth creation, Emyooga was launched by President Yoweri Museveni in August 2019 with the purpose of transforming 68 per cent of Ugandan homesteads from subsistence to market-oriented production.
The government consequently set aside Shs100 billion for the programme, with each constituency in the country receiving about Shs560 million.