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HomeNATIONALHere's Why Parliament Acted Funny On Cooperatives Probe

Here’s Why Parliament Acted Funny On Cooperatives Probe

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The Parliament of Uganda Speaker tasked Trade & Tourism Committee Chairman Mpaka Mwine Rwamirama to investigate the scandal concerning how 173bn meant to compensate war-ravaged cooperative unions. The Committee went ahead to investigate by conducting grilling sessions but what was strange was that this time round journalists were totally locked out.

Most of the hearing meetings were closed because the matters being discussed were sensitive and risked exposing many big people including those at Parliament. The scandal was actually worse than the one of Mabati thieves though some leaders benefited from both Mabaati and Cooperatives cash bonanza.

But what exactly made this inquiry so sensitive yet all the others were always done in full media presence? The Speaker directed Mpaka to investigate on 25/August 2023 and the Committee was told to look into value for money concerning the billions government had been compensating to Cooperatives between 2011 and 2023 though in the end Mpaka concentrated on the last 2-3 years dealings.

The inquiry was to look into how the compensation monies paid out had been managed and expose those who have been eating in the dark using proxy law firms. The Cooperatives had lost property and money during the 1979 war and that of 1981-86 by NRA of Museveni. The Cooperatives were also being compensated in order to overcome the losses they suffered when their Cooperative Bank was closed in the 1990s.

Before producing its report in mid November, the Mpaka Committee conducted investigations and even had some public meetings upcountry but curiously, journalists were discouraged from attending and reporting about the proceedings under the guise that Parliament was too broke to facilitate their transport to move with the Committee.

Some of the Cooperatives whose compensation was looked into included the following: Masaka Cooperative Union Ltd (whose money has for years been stolen and eaten by a Minister from Greater Masaka, Minister from Kigezi and a NUP politician close to the LoP office), Kigezi Growers, East Mengo Growers, West Mengo Growers, Uganda Cooperative Transport Union, North Bukedi Cooperative Union, Masaba Cooperative Union, Lambuli Central Cooperative Society, Buyaka Growers, Busoga Growers, Wamala Growers, Jinja Multipurpose, Teso Cooperative Union, East Acholi, West Acholi Cooperative Union, Bumwambu Cooperative Society, Bunyoro Growers Cooperative Union, Kimwanyi Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society, Central West Nile, South West Nile, West Nile Cooperative and Okoro Coffee Growers etc.

These are based in regions upcountry and in most cases the governing board Chairperson is either an MP or Minister. Or someone powerful and politically connected. This is how many MPs ended up being implicated in billions which are now missing. For instance former Kyankwanzi MP Anna Maria Nankabirwa chairs Wamala Growers and has to answer for more than 4. 5bn which is part of what was paid in compensation but didn’t reach members.

Other MPs who are similarly implicated in the region include Miko Mawanda, Paul Akamba who pocketed billions and Ignatius Wamakuyu Wamudini who the New Vision says used his position as chairman for Budget Committee of Parliament to syndicate billions of money which ended up going to the real estate company called Simu Oil Company Ltd which his wife owns.

This company earned 10.2bn from the 15.6bn that was compensated to Bumwambu Cooperative Society. The wife’s company got the money in order to sell 1,532 acres of land to the Cooperative each acre at 6m. Even when the Cooperative lost upto 8.5bn for this land transaction, the land was never passed on to them and yet nothing is going to ever be done to Wamakuyu. Other MPs implicated include Maxwel Akora of Maruzi.

Fear to expose fellow MPs in front of cameras, as witnesses appeared to give evidence, caused the leadership of Parliament to direct Mpaka Mwine to keep the journalists away from many of the committee inquiry meetings. This would expose and shame Parliament very badly. And there are even very big people at Parliament who witnesses, appearing before the Committee, had implicated.

Sources say their names had to be removed as Mpaka was ordered to keep auditing the report several times to white wash people and fellow MPs, some of them are his supervisors. Sources add that President Museveni got a full intelligence briefing indicating that the original report (which he has a copy of) was white washed to remove some big names at Parliament.

Sources say Museveni was very angry that the taxpayers money would be wasted like that by Mpaka and group only to end up covering up things and white washing to protect some untouchables at Parliament yet its them who ate the billions in most cases using law firms in Kampala. Sources add that this is why the report hasn’t been tabled up to now because any debate on the same can open a Pandoras box and create problems for the mighty at Parliament.

The report was instead shelved and referred to IGG and DPP who will never do anything on it fearing to annoy powerful people and the taxpayer will be the loser in all this. This is why President Museveni is angry to see the fight against corruption at Parliament taking a selective path whereby Mpaka is unleashed on some targeted officers of government while the real eaters of billions are massaged and covered with soft landing.

Sources say basing on the original report which had real names of the original thieves, the President will be handling the situation politically by punishing and isolating some people. Sources say he feels very much betrayed and disappointed that an entire committee of Parliament would waste the taxpayers money and time besides creating high expectations only to end up covering the real thieves who ate the billions meant for Cooperatives compensation to benefit the poor farmers and members whose property was lost during the wars of 1979 and that of 1986.

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