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Minister Rusoke, Fort Portal Mayor and Town Clerk under fire over gross corruption and abuse of office

Fort Portal City Mayor, Edson Asaba Ruyonga (L), the State Minister for Local Government, Ms Victoria Rusoke Businge (C) and Fort Portal City Ag. Deputy Town Clerk Richard Kagaba Ndora (R)

Fort Portal, (UG): The State Minister for Local Government, Ms Victoria Busingye Rusoke, the Mayor of Fort Portal City, Edson Asaba Ruyonga and the Acting Deputy Town Clerk, Richard Kagaba Ndora have all come under fire over the alleged abuse of office and conniving to frustrate the smooth management and running of the Tourism City.

The three are all under the spotlight after a section of concerned whistleblowers penned a lengthy dossier addressing it to the Minister for Local Government Raphael Magyezi and President Museveni (in copy) accusing Minister Rusoke, Kagaba and Ruyonga for not only managing Fort Portal City as a family business but also abating nepotism, corruption and causing financial loss as a result of increasing bills for litigation costs.

A dossier which was first shared with TheStandardUG, an online publication branded the trio as enemies of the NRM government’s agenda of social transformation, empowerment and transparency, as their operations are not only impeding the achievement of the above but also affecting service delivery for the innocent citizens.

The Whistleblowers also accuse the minister of assuming the roles of other officials in the ministry to her personal interest.

“Ms Victoria Busingye Rusoke has usurped the powers of the Permanent Secretaries of both the Ministry of Local Government and Public Service as well as the Public Service Commission both at the centre and in the City, in a bid to advance her ill political motives in Fort Portal City at the expense of service delivery. This has escalated litigation in the entity. This is evidenced by her letters demeaning the guidance of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Public Service on procedural matters in recruitment and her letter instructing the Permanent Secretary to promote certain officers,” the multi-paged dossier reads in part.

In a bid to quench her ill political motives, the aggrieved citizens further accuse the minister of orchestrating the transfer of Kagaba Richard Ndora, a Deputy CAO from Rukungiri District to Fort Portal as a Town Clerk. The same transferred officer is alleged to have gotten Minister Businge’s protection to commit several illegalities as expressed in the dossier.

The whistleblowers also contend that Kabaga, who in most cases acts on Businge’s whims, has a litany of administrative malpractices which are detrimental to the smooth management of affairs at Fort Portal City, detailing the same as follows;

“…Mr. Kagaba Richard Ndora presided over the service commission by intentionally misinforming and ill-advising them, a move orchestrated by the Political patronage of some leaders riding on Kagaba’s lack of experience in Urban management and general maladministration. This can be enumerated by several errors as noted below;

  1. First, the Commission assumed duty and conducted business when it was not fully constituted which contravenes the provisions of the Local Government Act Cap 243, the Public Service Commission Act 2017 as amended, and the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders 2022 and as guided by the Secretary Public Service Commission in Circular letter No. 1/2023. By October 2022, the commission had only three (3) approved members and currently, it has Four (4) members thus not fully constituted.
  2. Secondly, in July 2022, a Personal Secretary (scale U4) to the City Town Clerk was assigned duties of Secretary City Service Commission even when the City had two (2) substantively appointed and competent Human Resource Officers. This assignment was influenced by the City Mayor and his Executive Committee to achieve their interests in the recruitment process, which indeed came to pass.
  3. Some lower cadres (below scale U4) Staff who were recommended for appointment on attainment of higher qualifications by the validation Team were denied the opportunity of promotion to Scale U4 by the Commission with reasons that they were not supposed to be moved from their current departments to others which was erroneous. Their reasons were not backed up by any policy or law but by malice, bias political intrigue and influence by the same City Executive. It was later discovered that this had been done with intentions to extract money from the affected individuals since the same people who were denied promotions were later bribed by Mr. Kagaba Richard Ndora and cohorts, yet they were to be promoted as recommended by the validation team. One wonders whether the initially raised excuses had ceased to hold water as earlier noted.”

The dossier further states that; “The Commission again re-designated two (2) Internal Auditors as Commercial Officer and Senior Commercial Officer respectively which would affect their pay since the 2 departments have different salary bands. This is an anomaly a competent Town Clerk and Secretary to the Service Commission would have guided the Members against. More so, the Ag. The City Town Clerk went ahead and implemented the erroneous directive of the Commission by issuing appointments to the Officers in capacities as Commercial and Senior Commercial Officers, instead of rescinding the Minutes and guiding the Commission accordingly. The affected Internal Auditors wrote to the Ag. The City Town Clerk then appealed against their re-designation which he ignored and asked them to either accept the new appointments or appeal to the Public Service Commission. These employees have since sued Fort Portal City Council for the incompetence of the Service Commission and the Ag. City Town Clerk Mr. Kagaba Richard Ndora. To make matters worse, shortlists for such contentious positions were made and the recruitment process was undertaken despite the anomaly.”

“The Commission guided by the Ag. City Town Clerk then and Ag. Secretary failed to interpret beyond the recommendations of the Validation Team and Report, went ahead and instantly directed the retirement of Six (6) Employees on the abolition of Office namely; the Deputy Town Clerk, even when there was guidance from the Permanent Secretary Public Service Commission in her letter dated 25th October 2022 that the Officer be retained, re-designated as Assistant Deputy Town Clerk and given 2 years grace period to attain the required higher qualification of a Masters degree, two (2) Senior Assistant Engineering Officers, Two (2) Town Agents and One (1) Office Attendant irrespective of the guiding Circular Letter no.2 of 2022.”

All the instantly retired employees have since dragged the City Council to Court on the same matter and some have already won cases with costs and damages, to the detriment of Council and the taxpayer. This raises more concern because Fort Portal City Council has a huge amount of debts from Court Cases amounting to over 10 billion shillings as said by the City Mayor on several radio stations. The City Leadership is already erroneously resolving to sell Council pieces of land to clear these debts, yet there are also several pending Court cases resulting from such incompetence and impunity by both the technical and political leaders of this City awaiting judgment which the entity is likely to lose.

Besides the above anomalies, the Whistleblowers also reveal that over 20 employees/staff have been denied appointment letters, inclusive of those in Finance and Administration without any reason and they are now threatening to drag the entity to courts of law for unfair treatment, which farther highlights a clear manifestation of incompetence and maladministration on the side of the Ag. City Town Clerk, who partook in the placement process as a technical advisor.

The attention of the Minister and President has also been brought to an advert for vacant Posts in Fort Portal City Council, dated 28th December 2022, which had a lot of anomalies which the Senior Human Resource Officer noted and brought to the Ag. City Town Clerk’s attention, although the red flag was ignored and instead led to her being framed and consequent interdiction, the raised anomalies are as noted below;

  1. Wage analysis was not made to ascertain the availability of wages for recruitment. The current head of Health and that of Production had officially written to the Town Clerk about wage shortage in their departments but many job vacancies in these departments were advertised.
  2. The City Service Commission never received any submission as evidence of wage analysis to back up the advert.
  3. The advert was run without submission of the official job declaration forms to the City Service Commission.
  4. The City Service Commission received an already drafted advertisement from the City Town Clerk in the very format it was run.
  5. The City Service Commission never sat to receive and review the job declaration forms or discuss minute the advert and therefore, there is no record to this effect.
  6. The Advert included several positions which were already substantively filled inclusive of Commercial Officers, 1 post of Senior Commercial Officer,1 Senior Education Officer and Enforcement Officers.
  7. A long advert was not made or displayed on notice boards and official websites for the City to guide applicants.
  8. The deadline for applications (28th January 2023) fell on a weekend (Saturday) which limited applicants. No official addendum for an extension of the deadline was made and communicated to the applicants to this effect as a means of correcting this anomaly.
  9. As mandated, the Ag. The City Town Clerk did not seek clearance from the Ministry of Public Service to advertise which is likely to cause shortfalls in wages that may fail to pay staff in post and consequently, litigation since they may not access payroll and earn a salary respectively.

It is also alleged that the Deputy Town Clerk and the newly inappropriately promoted City Chief Finance Officer Mr. Karamagi Simon, single-handedly sat and selected applicants in all categories without resource persons for the advertised positions in specific departments, which is against the Performance Standards Manual for DSCs (Dec 2009) (b) and the Local Government Act Sec 55 (c).

The complainants also assert that; “Regardless of several correspondences from the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Public Service deterring responsible officers from recruiting new staff until the Auditor general’s report is out and after securing clearance from the Ministry of Public Service, Kagaba, in a bid to justify his corruption, impunity, insubordination, political patronage and incompetence, has proceeded to defy the above lawful Government position regarding recruitment, and issued appointment letters to persons who had irregularly been interviewed. This has been done in connivance with the City Mayor, Ruyonga who on 3rd July 2023, issued a letter to Kagaba, directing him to issue appointment letters with immediate effect beginning with the Principal Human Resource officer. Kagaba has already executed this unlawful instruction regardless of the repercussions and the consistent guidance and directives from the central Government. One wonders whether Fort Portal City and Kagaba Ndora in particular are independent of the Central Government because they are running the entity as their homes.”

What Next?

The Whistleblowers now want Local Government Minister, Hon Raphael Magyezi to among other things; Inform the head of state and party chairman of the NRM (President Yoweri Museveni) about Minister Businge’s misconduct which they say has far-reaching effects on the Party’s credibility in the Tooro region.

They also compel the Local government ministry and other agencies to cause the officers mentioned above to step aside to pave the way for investigations, as well as collaboration with other agencies of Government to check the impunity of the state Minister for Local Government and the Mayor of Fort Portal, City who are at the toll of independently operating as if there is no functional central government

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