District leaders from Lango and Masindi have urged government to revamp its compensation strategy, citing lack of supervision by the local government as a critical barrier.
This was in reference to money given to cooperative societies as compensation for property lost in the civil wars.
The leaders assert that it was unwise to bypass local authorities in the entire compensation process, justifying the conflicts, corruption and manipulation witnessed in the management of compensation funds.
“This is like a postmortem of money released by government. What we are about to see from this investigation, it seems few people have benefited from money offered to Lango Cooperative Union yet it could have changed many lives,” said Morris Okello, Speaker, Lira District Council.
Okello was interacting with Parliament Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry in Lira district, during the committee’s ongoing inquiry on cooperatives.
He said the district commercial office by its mandate could have ‘cured’ the alleged misuse of funds by the union and the eventual fights between members if the district was engaged.
“Basing on what is on ground I pray that in your recommendations empower local leaders; we have the district commercial officers, the mandate could also be given to the chief administrative officers and the district chairpersons to be supervising some of these activities,” he said.
In Masindi, the district leadership was concerned with the way Bunyoro Cooperative Union was cheated by third parties, who took more than half of their compensation money, saying the district could have reigned in if it was involved in the process.
“The error that the union committed is negligence due to failure to consult, the district could have guided. Include district leaders in your recommendations to keep an eye on government funding to avoid similar occurrences in future,” said Emmanuel Awio, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Masindi district.
Due to lack of supervision, the Trade committee observed poor management of funds in a number of cooperatives, with some that lacked critical staff such as accountants, while others were headed by semi-illiterate leaders.
In Masindi the committee was dismayed to learn that Bunyoro Cooperative Union leaders, could hardly explain basic operations of the union including the expenditure of Shs 2.5bn remitted to their bank account for compensation.
“Chairman and Treasurer, we have asked you simple questions and you cannot answer. You could not tell us how much was remitted to your bank account, you cannot explain how the union reached at the lawyer’s fees, neither could you locate the memorandum of understanding signed with the lawyer,” said Hon. Elijah Mushemeza (Ind., Sheema County South).
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka, warned that failure by the union leadership to file complaints against the lawyer, who is said to have taken more than the agreed 50 percent was criminal.
“The fact that you never took the lawyer to police, you never made any official complaint means you facilitated the entire process and guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud,” Mwine Mpaka said.
Source: Parliament of Uganda