LWENGO, UGANDA: Two Lwengo district officials are in police custody for alleged fraud and obtaining money by false pretense from women groups in the area. They are Joseph Mazinga, the Lwengo District Commercial Development Officer, and an attendant in his office, Wilson Ssemanda.
Another official Charles Mbazira, the Lwengo sub-county Community Development Officer (CDO) who doubles as the focal person for Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) in the district is said to be on the run over the same offenses.
Isha Ntumwa, the Lwengo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, says that his office received complaints from Nakalembe Women’s Piggery group, about a syndicate involving technocrats to embezzle the project funds.
According to Ntumwa, the group notified him that Shillings 9 million was deposited on their group account late last year. They reportedly received a call the next day from CDO asking them to withdraw the money and hand it over to him in cash.
He says that the officers offered to share the money with the women group leaders if they agreed to return it. It is upon this background that the Ntumwa instructed police to lay a trap that led to the arrest of Mazinga Ssemanda when they went to pick the money.
“After arresting Ssemanda, he informed us that he had been sent by Charles Mbaziira, the Lwengo Sub County Community Development Officer who had fled after getting the reports about the arrest of his junior, who eventually led us to his boss the District Community Development Officer,” he said.
The two are locked up at Mbirizi police station as the pursuit for Mbazira continues. Preliminary findings by the office of the RDC indicate that at least Shillings 50 million has been lost through deliberate fraud committed in a similar fashion by civil servants charged with overseeing the implementation Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) in the Lwengo district.
Ibrahim Kitatta, the Lwengo LC V Chairperson, says that they started reviewing the bank statements for all the 12 women groups who benefit from the program to ascertain the size of the loss.
Peter Twala, the Lwengo District Police Commander, says that the two officers will aid police investigations into the matter. Financial scandals are not new in the Lwengo district. In July last year, over 300 civil servants protested unexplained monthly deductions from their salaries purportedly for a medical insurance scheme to help staff without their consent.
The affected civil servants accused the district Human Resource Officer and former Chief Administrative Officer, Aggrey Mulamira of being the direct beneficiaries of the dubious scheme, allegations that are still under investigation.