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Ministers Kitutu, Nandutu Admit Mishandling Iron Sheets Intended For Needy People In Karamoja Sub-Region

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Ministers Kitutu, Nandutu Admit Mishandling Iron Sheets Intended For Needy People In Karamoja Sub-Region

Mary Goretti Kitutu, Minister of Karamoja Affairs, has admitted to mishandling iron sheets intended for needy people in the Karamoja Sub-region.

Ms. Kitutu admitted that some of the iron sheets sent beyond the area in response to requests when testifying before the Parliament’s Committee on Presidential Affairs on Friday.

The committee is now looking into the improper distribution of aid in the area.

“In response to demands, some iron sheets intended for the Karamoja area were sent beyond the zone without the required instructions. This could have been an error, but now that instructions have been provided, it won’t happen again,” she added.

“Any trouble and humiliation caused is very regretted,” she said.

After receiving 3,000 pieces, Ms. Kitutu is one of the recipients of the iron sheets who are featured on the list.

Matia Kasaija, the finance minister, is one of the others who received 300 pieces. He admitted to the investigation on Wednesday that, despite receiving the roofing supplies, he had not originally applied for them and that the Office of the Prime Minister simply “donated” them to him (OPM).

The minister asked to have that specific conversation away from the prying eyes of the media when the committee chairwoman, Ms Jesca Ababiku (Adjumani District Women), questioned Ms Kitutu to address reports that some of her relatives, including her mother, had received some of the iron sheets. Ms. Ababiku complied with her demand.

The minister then promised to approach the discussion around the mismanagement from the investigation positively and constructively in order to better run the ministry.

The problems you brought up will be taken very seriously, and we’ll examine where we went wrong and where we need to step up our efforts for the sake of the Karamoja area.

After leaving the committee room, the Sunday Monitor asked the minister whether she was thinking about stepping down in light of the current controversy. She choose not to respond.

Ms. Agnes Nandutu, the junior minister for Karamoja Affairs, acknowledged to the investigation that she was a recipient of the gifts.

“I have some iron sheets for mobilization, the minister [Kitutu] phoned and told me. The minister’s personal assistant (PA) asked me to go pick them up from the shop, Nandutu stated.

Ms. Nandutu noted that the iron sheets were given to houses and landslide victims in her district of Bududa.

Ms. Nandutu said, “She [Kitutu] handed me 2,000 iron sheets.

According to Ms. Nandutu, the iron sheets have not yet been put to use. The minister came to the decision that she would follow the committee’s recommendations for what to do with the documents moving forward.

Minister Nandutu’s remarks

Agnes Nandutu, the state minister for Karamoja affairs, will testify before the Presidential Affairs Committee on Friday in Parliament.

“I appreciate it, Madam Chair and distinguished members. When I was assigned to this ministry, my senior was ill with Covid, leaving me on my own for approximately three weeks. But, after she recovered, she took over all of the technical aspects of the ministry. I just played the part of travelling to the areas of Karamoja to mobilize people; I had nothing to do with purchasing or distributing anything. That is all I have to offer.

[On the subject of goats and iron sheets]

We went to the ground to mobilize the Karuchanas—youth who had handed the army their firearms back—after they had given us a budget to buy goats and iron sheets for them. With the exception of Karenga and Amudat, I visited almost all of Karamoja’s districts within the first month of my assignment. I mobilized people to hand in their guns with the help of some members of parliament, and we gave them alternative means of subsistence in the form of goats—specifically Gala goats—and iron sheets. However, when it came to procurement, I had no idea, and while I was preparing for the procurement, I became ill. I was hospitalized at that time. By the time I returned, everything was finished, and my involvement was limited to the commissioning of the President’s distribution of goats and iron sheets to the Moroto District. We were meant to distribute the goats and the iron sheets right after the commissioning. After the commissioning, I did not see any continuous distribution of the iron sheets. I am the recipient of the gifts. My personal assistant, the minister’s PA, phoned to ask me to go pick up some iron sheets from the shop after the minister told me that I had some iron sheets for mobilization.
Do you get the donations? the committee chair interjects. Do you remember to contribute to yourself?

No, Nandutu. I am the recipient of the gifts. The PA (personal assistant) of the minister contacted me to ask me to go and pick them up from the shop after the minister told me that I had some iron sheets for mobilization.

Ababiku: In order to mobilize?
No, Nandutu.

Ababiku: Should people mobilize locally or elsewhere?

Nandutu: External to the area

Ababiku: To bring to your…
Nandutu: Residents in my area who lost their homes in landslides.

Do you own that letter, Ababiku?

She didn’t give me a letter, Nandutu. She just phoned to let me know and I’m at her office now. She handed me 2,000 sheets of iron.

Have you utilized them, Ababiku?
Nandutu: No, chair, Madam.

Ababiku: The petitioners [on this issue] demand that the owners of the iron sheets give them back. What do you think?

Nandutu: “Madam Chair,” I’m willing to heed the committee’s suggestions.
We don’t want to pressure individuals into doing things they are not ready to undertake, Ababiku. You must adopt an attitude of independence.
Nandutu: “Madam Chair,” I fully understand that those iron sheets were not intended for Bududa, and I am willing to heed the committee’s recommendations. I do precisely what you will instruct me to do with the iron sheets.

Ababiku: At this point, you must act independently since our suggestions won’t take effect unless they are approved by Parliament. We will talk about our concerns, and they won’t be resolved until the whole home accepts our solutions.

Kitutu’s regret

Statement to the Parliamentary Committee on Presidential Affairs by the Minister for Karamoja Affairs

“Honorable chairman, distinguished colleagues, and distinguished committee members. This declaration about the iron sheets purchased via my ministry is being issued in my role as Minister for Karamoja Affairs.

Several iron sheets intended for the Karamoja area were unintentionally sent beyond the region in response to requests. This could have been a mistake, but because advice has been offered, it won’t happen again.

We deeply apologize any difficulties and humiliations we may have caused.

To H.E. the President and the whole Executive, I will also deliver a separate message.
My dedication to the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs and the whole of Uganda is unshakeable.
I sincerely apologize, and I hope you and all Ugandans will accept it, honorable chairman and distinguished colleagues.
Thanks a lot.

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