Bugiri councilors trade blows with technical staff over shs46M

Bugiri councillors trade blows with technical staff

There was drama when the mayor and Bugiri municipal councillors exchanged blows with the technical staff after finding out that the outgoing town clerk, Katunda Mukuru, had been allowed to hand over the office.

The technical staff, district leaders and members of the public converged at Real Guesthouse to witness the handover, to the annoyance of the mayor, Bumali Luba and his councillors.

Luba had earlier written a letter blocking the handover, demanding accountability for sh46m meant for the construction of a pit-latrine at Busanzi primary school.

Mukuru is said to have withdrawn the money from Centenary bank in order to buy a second-hand double cabin vehicle that was being auctioned by the local government ministry.

According to Luba, the car is worth sh3m on auction. Mukuru insists that it cost sh46m. He, however, apologised for making a decision without consulting members of the executive.

“We all at one time make mistakes,” he said.

Luba, who was accompanied by 20 of his councillors, entered the swearing-in room 30 minutes after the meeting had kicked off. Luba, who doubles as the chairperson for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in Bugiri, later stormed out of the meeting after the master of ceremonies, Isaiah Were, blocked a request by the secretary for finance, John Singidi, to demand that the town clerk accounts for the sh46m.

The councillors accused Mukuru of using the money for his own personal gain. Luba said there is no way they will recover the money after Mukuru has been transferred to Kasese.

During the scuffle, Mukuru hurriedly handed over to the new town clerk, Godfrey Kateeba. However, as Mukuru moved out of the room, he was confronted by the councillors.

During the chaos, some technical staff tried to intervene but were instead harassed before a fistfight ensued. During the fight, the mayor had his coat and shoes ripped.

The Bugiri district chairperson, Haji Marijani Azalwa, who was the chief guest, pleaded with the mayor and councillors, saying, anyone could be summoned to answer any case of embezzlement as long as they are still in public service.

After failing to convince the councillors, Azalwa decided to accompany Mukuru to Bugiri police station to record a statement.

The mayor (centre) being restrained from fighting. Photos by Moses Bikala

Mukuru recorded a statement and was briefly held, before being bailed out by three sureties. When contacted about the matter, the new town clerk declined to comment.

“You can see the kind of reception I received, what do you expect me to talk about?” he asked. The councillors later grabbed a goat that had been given to Mukuru by the technical staff for his “excellent work”, but it died during the scuffle.

Last year, councillors passed a resolution demanding the transfer of Mukuru over allegations of insubordination, corruption and failure to pay their allowances for five consecutive sittings. The district police commander, Jeff Sebuyungo, said the police was still investigating the matter.

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Muwanga Ronald is editor in chief of the UGANDANZ news website. He was formerly editorial director of UGANDANZ.COM, overseeing the publication’s digital operations. Before joining UGANDANZ in December 2018, Ronald was managing editor of NILE HOST In 2014, he was a finalist for the UJA Awards for Young Journalists for his reporting on the women's emancipation. Under his leadership NILE HOST won Media Industry Newsletter's Best of the Web award in 2018. A graduate of Makerere University, Ronald speaks Luganda and French and lives in Kampala with his wife and two children.