OPINION: The Iron sheet saga for the last weeks has made headlines in the country’s main stream and social media.
The relief iron sheets meant for the Karamoja sub-region from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) stores were meant to be distributed to people under the affirmative action programme.
The frequent media reports forced the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to suspend the distribution of iron sheets across the country after theft and abuse in the process of distribution, and leading to the arrest of close relatives of the Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Ms. Mary Gorreti Kitutu.
According to the Daily monitor, by the time of suspension, 84,697 of the 173,665 iron sheets procured had been distributed, leaving a balance of more than 88,000 iron sheets.
Legislators from Karamoja region have since started a move to censure minister Kitutu, accusing her of corruption and abuse of office. The Opposition MPs also joined the move and asked all the ministers who have received the iron sheets to resign.
However, the Bukoto Central member of parliament who is also the acting President for the Democratic Party Eng. Richard Sebamala says the public shouldn’t concentrate too much on the iron sheets saga, but rather make thorough investigations into the funds donated to Karamoja region for the last many years through donor funding and the Office of the Prime Minister.
In his weekly Press briefing, Eng. Sebamala said 20 years ago billions of money was released for Karamoja region to construct valley dams but the project wasn’t fulfilled.
“Karamoja region has been given a lot of donor funding in sectors of education, water and sanitation, infrastructure, health etc to change people’s lives but billions and billions have always been diverted by individuals with self-interests after achieving just a small percentage of the funded projects. The region is becoming a bottomless pit for donor funding but without tangible results.” Eng. Sebamala Said.
Sebamala adds that Karamoja region has been under developed for the last 37 years but the public hasn’t examined the cause of the problem.
“It’s not only the iron sheets saga, 20 years ago many billions have been swindled. We even need to look into the ethics of appointed ministers for the region because they also have self-interests and constituents to serve that’s why they grab national resources. Some ministers are greedy and using their portfolios to attain wealth that’s why billions have been grabbed through the land fund, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), cooperatives etc,” he added.
The iron sheets saga is therefore, just a small portion of the lost billions taken by greedy government officials. Ugandans need to seek for accountability for the entire National budget not only the 2 billion for Karamoja iron sheets. Uganda spends a lot in classified expenditures, doubling costs of several projects.
Sebamala says accountability starts a local council level where Ugandans need to monitor gov’t expenditure sent to local governments because there is a need to fight for National resource. He however, warned Ugandans that the Iron sheets saga could be a diversion from the Key issues in the country.