Ruth Nankabirwa, the former Micro-finance state minister has defended the manner in which 10 billion shillings meant for market vendors was disbursed saying she was implementing the NRM manifesto.
While appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament led by its lead counsel Akora Maxwell, the Maruzi County MP, Nankabirwa said that she issued directives that the money be given to only NRM supporters.
The money was meant to benefit over 1,527,000 vendors in 400 markets countrywide. The Auditor General’s report indicates that Nankabirwa sidelined members of the joint steering committee led by worker’s MP Sam Lyomoki instead of guiding them as directed by President Yoweri Museveni to oversee the disbursement of the revolving fund.
An internal memo issued by Nankabirwa shows that in a meeting held on 1st December 2010, it was agreed that the programme has both an economic motive and political impact.
This was meant to generate a critical mass of supporters for the ruling National Resistance Movement political programme as well as empower market vendors. Nankabirwa told the committee that it would be asking too much of her to explain and verify who the final beneficiaries of the fund were.
Gonzaga Ssewungu, the Kalungu East MP tasked Nankabirwa to explain why only NRM supporters were targeted to benefit to which she replied that every economic move ends up with a political impact.
HOW THE MONEY WAS DISBURSED
Nankabirwa explained that market vendors were clustered in groups of 30-60,000 vendors in 400 markets country wide.
Markets were classified into six categories on the basis of numbers of vendors in each market. They included 100 vendors’ categories as small businesses and for each to receive Sh10,000.
Five million shillings for another 100 vendors categorized as medium businesses for each to get 50,000 shs and the last group of large scale businesses of 100 vendors for each to get 100,000 shs.
The December 1st meeting agreed that the properly identified leaders for each group in the market will acquire membership in the SACCO through which the funds are delivered.
Where necessary, the meeting recommended the use of existing systems on the ground. The Gombolola Internal Security Officers and Resident District Commissioners could be used to get more information on the groups and their leaders.
Alice Alaso, the Serere District Woman MP wondered why Nankabirwa used government money to support NRM supporters and not Ugandans in general.
Nankabirwa became defenseless when Winnie Twine, the Assistant Presidential Advisor on markets who was also a member of the Joint steering committee cited the Minister’s malpractices.
Twine claimed that President gave a directive that the money that came shortly before the 2011 election shouldn’t be disbursed. She however said Nankabirwa brought a complete new list of beneficiaries who were not vendors.
Nankabirwa was then pinned for writing a brief to President Museveni on the 27th May 2011 stating that the funds had been disbursed to vendors according to the Micro Finance guidelines which was not true.
This was after the Micro-finance Support centre sought for guidance on how to disburse the money; but the ministry didn’t respond. Nankabirwa was also pinned for giving out 170 million shs to women groups in Jinja that were not on the list of actual beneficiaries, including buying seven milk coolers for her constituents in Nakaseke district.
She responded that some of the groups that were not on the list were putting her under pressure to get part of the money and they would indirectly benefit the vendors.