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The Fall Out: Minister Anite, UIA bosses, split over Shs545m ‘service award’

L to R: UIA Director General, Mr Robert Mukiza, Uganda's State Minister for Privatisation and Investment, Ms Evelyn Anite and UIA Board Chairman, mr Morrison Rwakakamba. PHOTO/COMBO

The State Minister of Finance (for Investment and Privatisation) Hon Evelyn Anite is currently at loggerheads with Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) top bosses; Mr Robert Mukiza (Director General) and Morrison Rwakakamba (Chairman UIA Board) over graft-related issues in the shs545 million service award.

Hon Anite, 39, last week took to her X account to lament how the UIA’s DG, Mukiza, 45, falsely accused her before President Museveni during a meeting with the Head of State at State House.

“Who will save Uganda & Ugandans from the corrupt? I can’t believe the corrupt like DG UIA @mukiza_robert resort to lying about me to @KagutaMuseveni in a bid to save their neck. The good news is the truth always wins. I promise to stay truthful to God, myself & my country,” Ms Anite fired against the UIA boss in a Wednesday night post timestamped at around 10 pm

The duo, until last Wednesday, had sartorially stood out by their sense of fashion, with Ms Anite often dazzling in stiletto heels, and Mr Mukiza who stands out in photos and crowds, rocking fit stretch suits, all with the same vision for the East African country – Privatisation and Investment. They, had even, on numerous occasions appeared in tow with President Museveni at various functions, commissioning factories, or at investment forums in and outside the country.

The surprise fallout is said to have been triggered by a meeting at State House, Entebbe, convened by President Museveni earlier in the day, attended by Ms Anite, and the UIA executive to discuss issues surrounding the loan-funded Kampala Industrial Park Development (KIPD) project.

Also, the centre of discussion was the question of the Shs545m “honoraria” paid out of the KIDP project funds to Mr Mukiza and 14 other staff members, a graft which seems to have spoiled the last three years under Mukiza’s reign at the government agency.

The Shs545m service award, which the board led by Rwakakamba allegedly endorsed to be paid to Mukiza and 14 other staff triggered Hon Anite, prompting her to direct that the money be recovered and put back into the KIDP project account within 24 hours from the receipt of her letter.

In her letter, copy of which website was able to have a glance on, Anite warned of “dire consequences” in case of failure to do so.

Anite described in the June 12 letter how the honoraria payment was “despicable, uncouth, barbaric, and uncultured, especially for a project that has stalled for five years against its initial completion date of January 5, 2024”.

“All these tantamount to mischarge (sic), abuse, and corruption at the expense of the taxpayers of Uganda,” She added, before requesting the IGG Beti Kamya (in copy) to launch an investigation into the matter.

Rwakakamba upon receipt of Anite’s letter, wrote to the UIA Director General, Mr Mukiza asking him to “implement the directive accordingly”.

Two days later, a letter purportedly signed off by Mr Mukiza and addressed to the authorised representative of Lagan-Dott Namanve Ltd surfaced on social media, with the former requesting bank account details on which to refund the monies.

On June 15, Minister Anite, through her X account, posted on X thus: “Fellow citizens, thank you very much for all your support to me in the fight against corruption. The good news is the DG @mukiza_robert has agreed to refund the money he & team received from the infrastructure loan, which Ugandan taxpayers will have to pay back with interest.”

According to a local newspaper, Monitor, the trio were on June 19, summoned by the President for a meeting at the State House to resolve the matter. The publication exclusively reported that inside the meeting, the Minister and UIA boss Mukiza were torn apart, exchanging bitterly against one another in front of the President and other officials.

The meeting, described as stormy, saw Mukiza and Rwakakamba allegedly accusing Ms Anite of frustrating one of the President’s pet projects. This, as a shocked Anite was overwhelmed and turned emotional as she defended herself.

“It appeared as though the President had been briefed about the allegations against the minister earlier on “and her presence appeared like a set-up,” a source, who was part of the meeting said, before adding that Anite was also admonished for turning the issues into a social media fodder.

The Kampala Industrial Business Park Project

The Ministry of Finance in 2018 borrowed €249m (about Shs1 trillion) from the UK Export Finance and Standard Chartered Bank of London to finance the development of KIBP to facilitate industrialisation. The project includes tarmacking roads and bridges, a small and medium enterprise (SME) hub, and related amenities to ease investors setting up industries.

However, the project has been rocked by, among others, claims of officials extorting and frustrating investors, dubious parcelling of land, parcelling of land to phoney investors, and inflating costs of project development.

How the money was shared

Mr Mukiza and eight UIA staff paid themselves Shs280m on July 23, 2023, off the project funds for undertaking “additional responsibilities” to bridge the gap in the supervision of the infrastructure development of the project in August 2022.

Mr Mukiza received Shs82m; his deputy, Dr Paul Kyalimpa who has since resigned from UIA Shs58m; Ms Patience Kabije, the contracts and claims manager, Shs43m; Mr John Bwambale Kyamakya, the transactional and contractual risk manager, Shs43m; Ms Amina Nassaka, the contracts and claims assistant, Shs17m; Ms Suzanne Akware Okissa, the records manager, Shs17m; Ms Joanitah Kambedha, a documentalist, Shs8m; and Mwanga Muzamil and Augustine Katale, both drivers, Shs4m each.

Other staff received money in the second tranche in euros included, the KIPD project manager, Mr Alex Nuwagira, Shs92m; Mr Felix Tumukunde Beinamaryo, the project engineer, Shs55m; Mr Emmanuel Muhumuza, the project architect, Shs49m; Mr William Sande, the project quantitative surveyor, Shs36m; and Mr Dominic Mugesera, the project accountant, Shs30m. These form part of the KIPD project management team.

UIA defended that the group received money for carrying extra workload following termination of the Owner’s Engineer (OE) on August 29, 2022, resulting in additional responsibilities which were assigned to the project management team assisted by some UIA staff.

“The UIA board proposed that UIA management considers remunerating the staff for their additional responsibilities, and guided to execute it within the law,” reads in part an internal memo.

Fresh Details emerge

Monitor on Sunday published yet another story detailing the payment of the Shs 545m honoraria. According to Monitor, sources inside UIA, however, recounted the acrimonious departure of the Owner’s Engineer in question, a consortium of Roughton International Ltd, Joadah Consult Ltd, Turner and Townsend International Ltd and Basic Consult Ltd. This allegedly followed disagreements with the project management team over several issues, including the alteration of bills of quantities.

Following the departure of the OE, the KIDP project manager brought the matter to the attention of management. A dozen temporary staff were hired to “bridge the gap”. The staff, insiders revealed, were initially hired for six months but have been on the project for two years under the same terms. The temporary staff, sources revealed, would be buttressed by UIA staff.

However, the remuneration of the staff became a subject of internal debate in mid-2022 between management and human resources (HR).

The HR, sources added, advised that neither acting allowance—for standing in for someone— nor honoraria—defined as pay to staff on special assignment and involving specific targets and timelines— were allowable in this case. The HR also advised that the enlisted staff would be eligible for “responsibility allowances” which would be modest.

For instance, on Mukiza’s list of payees; Ms Kabije who received Shs43m is listed as the contracts and claims manager, who according to the UIA website, she is listed as the ‘corporation secretary & head legal and board affair’, under whose docket contracts and claims are overseen.

Mr Kyamakya who received Shs43m on account of being the transactional and contractual risk manager, is the UIA chief internal auditor.

Ms Kambedha, who received Shs8m as a documentalist, was a receptionist at the time; while Muzamil, who received Shs4m as a driver on the special assignment, was already a UIA driver, attached to the director general’s office.

The first tranche of Shs280m was paid July 23, 2023, sources revealed, with full view of the board and officials in the Ministry of Finance. Ms Anite only raised the reflag on June 12, 2024, two days after Mr Mukiza had submitted a request for another round of payment.

Sources revealed that although the President stopped Mr Mukiza and his team from refunding the Shs545m as previously directed by the minister, he expressed his displeasure about the money having been taken out of resources for a project funded by a loan.

The President further halted payment of €8m (Shs31.7b), which was about to be paid, to the project contractor as “variation expenses” in relation to infrastructure works inside the industrial park. He [the President], however, warned that any official who squandered money off the project will be dealt with decisively as part of the ongoing war against corruption.

Both sides (Anite and UIA) declined to comment on the outcomes of the meeting when contacted last Friday, but the Public, judging the Minister through her frequent posts to prove herself as clean of graft has had many arguing that the Koboko Woman MP is now seeking the sympathy vote of the President and trying to avoid the wrath of corruption fight.

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