As the fury over the plundered Karamoja iron sheets erupted outside Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja sought to calm the situation with what sounded like an apology.
Ms Nabbanja’s Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) supervises assistance distribution, whose minister, Gorreti Kitutu, has since been detained and remanded.
Ms. Kitutu is accused of conspiring to swindle and committing damage to public property.
In response to media allegations that MPs and ministers had given police-recorded statements claiming that Dr. Kitutu approached them regarding the iron sheets as donations, Nabbanja stated: “…
Because all the ministers claim that they were called by the minister (Kitutu), and [I] don’t know if she called them after the investigations started. “If she called them after the investigations had started, then this is regrettable.”
The minister made the remarks during a meeting with Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee.
The Committee is closing up an investigation into the improper handling of aid supplies intended for Karamoja.
“We can have these other affirmative action programmes [in the OPM] replace those iron sheets in this regrettable incident. To me, this can be a way forward,” Ms Nabbanja, who is also implicated in the scandal, said.
The committee’s chair, Ms. Jesca Ababiku (Adjumani), stated that the focus of their investigation is the misuse of the supplemental budget, which was used to purchase 10,000 iron sheets for Karamoja.
“When we asked for the accountability for the 9,000 balance [of iron sheets] we established, with clear records, that they were again donated outside Karamoja and thatn was where your name (Nabbanja) was appearing,” Ms Ababiku said.
Ms. Nabbanja responded by claiming that these accusations were untrue.
“I believe that it is not true because what I know is that when the President was going to launch the iron sheets that time, the purchase of the Shs39 billion [supplementary budget] had not yet taken place. They were in the process and I think the minister [Kitutu] could have wanted that exercise to take place and that is why she [only] took 1,000 iron sheets [for the launch],” Ms Nabbanja said during a meeting in her office.
The Prime Minister further asserted that the Karamoja supplemental was not what she received, but iron sheets that were purchased as part of a budget vote for affirmative action.