By Frank Kamuntu
Kampala: The Equal Opportunities Commission Chairperson Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi is as we report this is sitting on hot stove following a couple of corruption, nepotism among other charges that have since pushed the Anti-Corruption Court on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, to issue a summons for her appearance on 7th October without fail to answer 3 counts that include conspiracy to commit fraud.
Although Ms Muwebwa was not present in the Anti-Corruption Court on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, when the charges were issued, this did not save her whereby her lawyers had to absorb the pressure raised by the court and they pledged to present her before the court on September 30 to take a plea.
While chief magistrate, Pamela Lamunu Ocaya was issuing summons thinking that may be Ntambi was not well off or has any other responsible reason for not appearing, Ntambi in few minutes after court’s adjournment was sighted at Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s office and it is alleged she was seeking the speaker’s intervention over her legal woes forgetting that court is guided by rule of law, not Kadaga’s intervention.
Ntambi is not the only alledged corruption practitioner in this case alone, she is jointly charged with Mr Mujuni Mpitsi, the Secretary to the Commission; Olwor Sunday Nicholas, the Undersecretary; Moses Mugabe, a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and Byangire Harriet, a Senior Accountant. Others are Edith Kamahoro, a Senior Personal Secretary; Kwesiga Ronnie, an Accounts Assistant; Jjemba Evans, the Principle Compliance Officer; Kwihangana Manasseh, a Senior Compliance Officer and Sarah Nassanga an Office Attendant.
Basing on the charge sheet signed by Jane Frances Abodo, the Director of Public Prosecution, Ntambi, Mugabe, Mujuni Mpitsi and Jemba conspired to defraud the government of sh35,002,000. They are said to have taken the money to purportedly undertake an audit exercise of the Rural Electrification Programme in Uganda, which activity is said to have not taken place hence leaving taxpayers in losses.
The revelation is a setback in the fight against corruption given that the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is a government agency that is mandated to eliminate discrimination and inequalities against any individual in state institutions.
These come when a whistleblower dossier President Museveni alerting him of evil deeds that allegedly were being conducted by Ms Ntambi and her group accusing her of superintending over unethical practices that had seen staff polarized along tribal lines, which has created a toxic working environment something that left a couple of staff regretting working under the commission.
A whistleblower revealed that cases of unfair staff dismissal, irregular interdiction, resignations and refusal to renew staff contracts amid allegations of tribalism was a daily routine that was running the Commission to a perishing mode.
“There is a clear divide between the Westerners and the Baganda. The Westerners are blacklisted, side-lined and fought up to exit. “Some officers who were given the jobs without interviews are indeed very difficult to work with and/or supervise because they belong to the “royal family” of the Commission,” whistleblower lectured Museveni about the rot in the commission.
It is alleged that Ms Ntambi has been recruiting her relatives and tribe mates without following the due procedures not only that but also embezzling the Commission’s funds through inflated and non-existent trips abroad, workshops and seminars which funds were coming from the government and donors.
In one instance, the petition indicates that in March, she travelled to New York for the Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). For this meeting, she was paid Shs36.8m for 17 days yet the meeting was for 13 days.
Between April 6 and April 16, she is reported to have received Shs27.2m for 12 days of a benchmarking trip in Sweden and Finland, which according to a whistleblower did not take place.
Ms Ntambi has also been accused of using her powers to direct payment of salary advances to herself. There are longstanding salary advances of Shs37.3million paid to her on March 4, 2016, and another payment of Shs40.3m she received on February 2, 2017.
Diversion Of Commission’s Funds
The Petition states in part that; “The Chairperson has created more expenditure lines outside the approved budget so-called ‘Public Relations (PR)’ since the start of this FY 2018/2019. The Chairperson introduced this mischarge at the start of quarter one directing the collection of UGX100 million which they had approved in the Commission meeting.
The allocation had not been approved by the Finance Committee because it was not part of the approved work plans and budget.
The said funds were to work as a kickback to stakeholders who had approved our budget for the year 2018/19; The same said funds were paid and collected through individual staff bank accounts. Later the same funds were handed over to the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs Muwebwa Ntambi Sylvia.
This act continued during Q2 and Q3 in which the fund was increased to UGX150 million.
Evidence of Q3 collections indicating the individual employees to whom the funds were sent is as follows:
Prof. Sunday Nicholas Olwor – 14 million, Kamahoro Enid – 13 million, Nassanga Sarah – 5 million Atukunda Susan – 6 million, Mugisha James – 12 million, Kwesiga Ronnie – 12 million, Kwihangana Manasseh – 13 million, Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi – 13 million.
The above collections relate only to Q3 of FY 2018/19. The hinds were collected, handed over to the Chairperson on 7th March 2019 at Kampala International University – Kansanga between 5/6 pm or thereabouts.”
The whistleblower asserts that this diversion denied the Commission an opportunity to implement activities as per the approved work plan and budget in favour of Public Relations costs which were never provided for.
“It is obvious that this act of diversion was meant for self-enrichment by Ms Sylvia Ntambi, the Chairperson. This has subsequently caused budget under-performance and a breach of contract with the appropriating body and the public,” the petitioner continues.