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Corruption failing Emyooga in Kween district, SACCO leaders cry out

KWEEN, June 13, 2024– Rampant corruption among civil servants in Kween district is failing the implementation of the Emyooga programme, according to the leaders of the different Emyooga Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations [SACCOs].

For instance, Hawa Nadungha, Chairperson of Kween Performing Artist Emyooga SACCO has identified Kween District Commercial Officer, Sylvester Toskin Bomet as being at the forefront of extorting money from the SACCOs.

“Last year in August, the district commercial officer of Kween, Mr. Toskin called the group executive [Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer] in Post Bank in Kapchorwa and we signed for Shs 40 million but after signing he gave us Shs 2 million each and he moved away with the balance of Shs 34 million,” she said.

It should be remembered that in early 2022, police in Kween district arrested Bomet for misappropriating Emyooga money totaling Shs 30mln.

Fred Mark Chesang, the Sipi Regional Police Spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that Bomet was charged and appeared in Kapchorwa Magistrate Court. “He was charged with theft and causing financial loss of Shs 30 million,” he said.

The Kween Chief Administrative Officer, Albina Awor also added her voice, saying that Emyooga programme is not moving well in the district due to corruption.

“There is a lot of confusion in Emyooga Programme in my district,” Awor said, adding that mismanagement of the government funds is being orchestrated by a few individuals.

She also acknowledged receiving some reports indicating Bomet was involved in extorting money from Emyooga groups. “We got information that he got Shs 12 million from one of the SACCOs and we handed him over to the police. We made him refund the money,” she said.

The CAO and Emyooga SACCO leaders made remarks during a meeting at Chepkusunya town council organised by Ritah Namuwenge, National Coordinator for Emyooga Programme on Wednesday.

However, when contacted by this reporter to give his side of the story, Bomet denied misappropriation of Emyooga funds.

He also said people accusing him of embezzling the funds are those who failed to meet the programme’s guidelines. “The people who are complaining are the ones who failed to meet the requirements of benefiting from that programme,” he said.

There are about 36 groups in Kween that were registered to receive Shs 30mln each and two leaders SACCOs, that were supposed to receive Shs 50mil each. Some of the groups allege that they have not received the money despite the district receiving over Shs 1.8 billion for the Emyooga programme.

Agnes Chebet, a resident, said that most government projects in the area are bedeviled by ghost groups or are non-existent on the ground but the government is doing nothing to root out corruption.

“The programmes is intended to benefit the local community but the impact is zero on the ground due to corruption,” she said.

On his part, the Kween Resident District Commissioner Kween, Hope Atuhaire, assured the community that all implicated officers who are accused of extorting Emyooga money from the beneficiaries will pay back the money.  “We have directed the affected beneficiaries to record statements at police stations to aid investigations. A lot of money has been misappropriated by the commercial officer,” Atuhaire said.

On her part, Namuwenge said the performance of the Emyooga program is poor because of the interference and mismanagement by the civil servants who are supposed to oversee the running of the programme.

“They coerce the SACCO members to give them the money. It’s alleged that the commercial officer picked Shs40 million from the Performing artist and Shs 12 million from Soyi fishermen and there is evidence against him. This case has been handed over to police for investigation,” Namuwenge, said.

Namuwenge said about Shs150 million meant for Emyooga SACCOs have been embezzled in the district. “Our investigations reveal that corruption has undermined not only Emyooga but also all government interventions,” she said.

Emyooga is a presidential initiative on wealth and bob creation was launched in August, 2019. The programme targets 18 categories of specialized Ugandans who include boda boda riders, taxi drivers, restaurant operators, welders, market vendors, women entrepreneurs, youth leaders, people with disabilities, journalists, performing artists, carpenters, salon operators, tailors, mechanics, produce dealers, veterans, fishermen and elected leaders.

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