In around 2010, the Government of Uganda started on the affirmative action process to compensate members of Ugandan Cooperative Unions or Societies whose member organisations and farmer groups lost property, vehicles, machinery and produce as a result of the madness that came with the liberation wars of 1979 and 1986 which brought President Museveni to power. Besides the vehicles, coffee, cash, machinery, equipment and factories lost due to war, there was also need to atone the damage and financial loss that the collapse or closure of Cooperative Bank occasioned onto what remained of the individual Cooperative societies in the early 1990s.
The different Cooperatives were asked to document and put in their claims which had to be verified by a Cabinet Committee that was set up and launched by the State Minister of Cooperatives. The Committee, set up largely by the Minister of State for Cooperatives aided by the technical team at the Ministry of Trade, had representatives from the different GoU MDAs.
Available documentation, capturing the status as at June 2023, indicated that a group of 17 major Cooperative Unions had put in a claim totaling up to Shs409,793,132,736 which upon verification by the government Committee was reduced to Shs222,698,098,075. Yet that wasn’t all. Another 36 Cooperatives put in a consolidated claim of Shs836,201,238,360 which, upon verification, was harmonized to Shs253,784,498,475. The war Compensation claim would depend on the several things a Cooperative would claim to have lost.
For instance, the following is how Masaka Cooperative Union Ltd’s original claim of Shs18,965,039,527 was arrived at: loss of vehicles, unpaid coffee, loss of spare parts & accessories and the forced sale of Villa Maria & Kyabiri Coffee factories. That the lost vehicles, coffee and spare parts were handed over to and taken by Gen Museveni’s rebels to aid the NRA war. The claim also related to cattle (115 heifer calves, 132 heifers, 62 local cows, 35 pure German Fresians, 67 cross breed at Kagayi Dairy farm & 11 bull calves) the Union claimed to have lost at its ranch in Sembabule Lugusulu.
Upon verification, Masaka Cooperative Union’s original claim was diminished to Shs17,712,728,071 which the Internal Auditor General later on unsuccessfully contested as too generous and unjustifiable because the Masaka Cooperative Union claim wasn’t accompanied by any documentation to authenticate the same.
And then as recent as September this very year, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, ostensibly having received petitions from dissatisfied stakeholders, directed the Trade Committee (chaired by Mpaka Mwine) to inquire into the overall management of the Cooperatives War Debts Compensation Scheme by the GoU covering the period between 2011 and 2023. The Committee report, which in November was approved (though not debated) by the Parliamentary plenary to enable CID, DPP and the IGG to pursue further criminal investigations in order to establish individual criminal culpability of officials that are suspected to have enabled the impugned misappropriation of billions of shillings over the years.
MAKING BIG DECISIONS:
Though the Committee report claims that some Cooperatives got compensated prior to being verified, the one undeniable fact is that there was a verification Committee whose work it was to determine how much was compensated to which Cooperative. The Committee, whose composition was in November 2021 altered by Commissioner Cooperatives Policy & Development Dr. Joshua Mutambi who was the Ag Permanent Secretary, closely working with Registrar of Cooperatives Bob Barigye, had the following members effective December that same year 2021:
Assistant Commissioner Robert Waiswa Mpakibi (remaining as Chairman), Finance Ministry’s Okot Kiwanuka, MAAIF’s Dr. Aisu Joseph Charles, Lands Ministry’s Bill Kasigi (government valuer), Works Ministry’s Eng Jacob Lumonya, Eng Santos Okello, Defense Ministry’s Senior Administrative Secretary Duncan Seninde, Intelligence Officer Geoffrey Walter Onyu (ISO), CMI’s Lt Col Africano Abasa and Senior Cooperatives Officer Moses Magumba. Others were Training Officer Scovia Tusubira, Cooperatives Officer Ambrose Mugweri and Cooperatives Officer Marias Kamukunda.
In his internal memo authored on 30th November 2021 when he was the Ag PS, Dr. Joshua Mutambi announced to SACCOs Assistant Commissioner Robert Waiswa Mpakibi the withdrawal of the following officers from the verification committee: Principal Cooperative Officer Leonard Kavundira, Paul Ocetum, Lucy Babirye and Rufina Komol. The following were enumerated to be their replacements constituting the new members who had to team up with those from other MDAs to carry on with the job: Moses Magumba, Ambrose Mugweri, Scovia Tusubira, Senior Cooperatives Officer Winnie Turyamyreba and Eng Kassim Semanda, a senior MSME Officer (in charge of technology, research & planning) at the Trade Ministry.
The same memo was copied to the Minister of State for Cooperatives Hon Frederick Ngobi Gume equally indicating that Robert Waiswa Mpakibi was staying on as the overall Committee Chairperson with AG’s representative State Attorney Claire Kakunda staying on as the Alternative Chairperson. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 041 4674611 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).