Kampala – The Electoral Commission has out-rightly come forward to dismisses prior allegation at a section of its senior management was axed.
While addressing the Media on Thursday July 23 at body’s headquarters, Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, rubbished claims, sustaining that the officials tendered in their resignations.
“It’s not a strange phenomenon or occurrence for someone to seek to retire
early even though a month or 2 months back you were given contract or your contract was renewed,” said Byabakama.
This development follows after at least eight senior Electoral Commission (EC) officials, including Sam Rwakoojo, the accounting officer who doubles as the Secretary to the Electoral Commission, were asked to step aside amid an alleged on-going investigation into accusations of corruption.
Other affected EC officials include Director Finance & Administrator Joseph Lwanga, Godfrey Wanyoto (head of procurement); Jotham Taremwa (public relations officer); Namugera Pontius (Information Technology director), Jordan Lubega (Administrator networks); Mr Musuza Charles and Edgar Kasigwa (data specialists).
Highly placed sources reveal that the sacking was sanctioned by President Museveni on Tuesday, July 21 subsequent to a closed-door meeting the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama.
Byabakama refuted reports that he was ordered by President Museveni to sack the individuals reiterating that their departure has nothing to do with
procuring ballot papers.
“These people have cited personal reasons. Therefore, I want to tell people of
Uganda that there is nothing strange in as far as tendering in the application for early retirement is concerned,” he said
Intel whoever thrown a different jab affirmed that changed were peddled after EC officials rejected a ballot printing bid from a German firm, Veridos Identity Solutions GMBH. In 2016, the German firm signed a joint venture with Uganda Printing & Publishing Corporation (UPPC) to print money and handle other security printing deals.
Sources close to State House said Mr Rwakoojo and team were asked to give the ballot printing deal to UPPC and in the process of verification, they discovered Veridos has a big stake in the company and the same German firm had successfully won a bid to transmit the poll results.
EC officials told this website that it was going to evidently awkward for the company contracted to print ballot papers to be the same company entrusted with transmitting the poll results.
The EC officials then wrote back to Veridos asking for details of ownership and expenditures of the company. In the process, President Museveni also reportedly wrote to EC that the company has a bigger reputation beyond printing ballot papers, and is tasked with printing the national currency, passports and handling data verification for the country’s national ID.
The procurement team then evaluated the bid and rejected it. The matter later went to the State House Anti-corruption Unit and IGG, with the EC officials accused of corruption.
A Ugandan daily, Daily Monitor broke the story of the disputed currency printing deal in 2016.
The paper reported that the joint venture between UPPC and a German firm, signed on June 11, 2016, was blockered amid tacit objections from Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and some technocrats in the Ministry of Finance.
Other sources cited irregularities in the procurement of an EC warehouse at a cost of Shs16.8b. In the petition to IGG, the warehouse was procured using “sheer might” and that the procurement was queried at every stage but somehow the deal went through.
The IGG is also investigating millions of shillings spent on consultancy services for the development of an Electoral Commission communication strategy, payment to Promote Uganda Ltd to do a documentary on the history of elections in Uganda and expenditure of Shs290m to undertake PR and Media campaigns at regional level to enhance public trust and confidence in the electoral process for 2020/2021.
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Although the affected EC officials and other didn’t want to go on record, some who talked to this newspaper in confidence, confirmed the story and reacted with consternation. They blamed their woes on office politics anchored on invisible faction fights between pro-Museveni people and pro-former premier Amama Mbabazi cliques.
Mr Mbabazi, a former ally was sacked as premier in President Museveni’s government in September 2014.
He would later contest as a presidential candidate in the 2016 general election, coming third with a paltry 1.3 per cent in a race that attracted eight candidates.
Without delving into the validity of the Museveni-Mbabazi proxy war, other sacked EC officials, without substantiating the claims, have blamed a powerful company they say has instigated the latest sackings at URA, NIRA and at the Directorate of Immigration at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.