Cooperatives & CommunitiesDevelopmentNational

MPs to probe cooperative unions over war reparations

KAMPALA – The Members of Parliament on the Committee of Tourism, Trade, and Industry will effective Monday next week begin investigating cooperative unions to ascertain whether the money they received as compensation for the war losses was put to good use.

According to the Trade Committee chairman Mwine Mpaka, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among initiated the probe of the cooperative unions following numerous complaints to her office calling for a value-for-money audit.

Among others, the leaders were supposed to use the money to re-energise the cooperative unions affected by the wars.

“The speaker instructed the Committee of Tourism, Trade, and Industry to investigate budgetary allocations that have been going to cooperatives. She gave us instructions to start from the 9th Parliament up-to-date,” Mpaka said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Mpaka said his committee has been gathering the necessary information and hope to be in the field effective Monday for 10 days.

“We want to first interact with the beneficiaries on the ground. We have written to the CAOs, we have written to the RDCs, we have written to area Members of Parliament where these cooperatives are,” noted, adding, “We have also invited leadership and membership of all the cooperatives. So we shall have public hearings.”

He said the committee wants to establish how much money the Finance ministry disbursed to the Trade ministry and if the latter disbursed the money to the cooperative unions, and whether the beneficiaries actually received the money.

“We are going to trace the transactions, bank statements to see whether the money actually went to the cooperatives. We are going to be interacting with the leadership of the cooperatives. We want to get as much information as we can,” said Mpaka, the Member of Parliament for Mbarara City South.

The government has over the years fully or partly compensated some of the cooperative unions. For instance, Masaba Cooperative Union, and Busoga Growers Union received Shs 2 billion each. Masaka Cooperative Union, Banyankole Kweterana Cooperative Union, Lango Cooperative Union, and Bugisu Cooperative Union, among several others, have also received some war compensation for the loss of properties.

Years ago, a report was published showing 1,110 cooperative unions were demanding government Shs 162 billion in war reparations.

According to a Parliamentary Brief on the Cooperative Sector in Uganda, published by the Uhuru Institute for Social Development [TUI] in April 2022, most members do not know the status of compensations awarded to their cooperatives for the loss of property like trucks, capital finance, land stock, and human resources.

Cooperators who interacted with TUI appealed to 10th Parliament to take keen interest in the compensation process, including negotiations, the final agreement between every Cooperative Union, or Cooperative Society involved, and the government of Uganda.

They added: “Such keen interest may include demanding that the responsible minister provides regular reports to parliament on the status of compensation until all the cases are concluded to the satisfaction of all parties.”

Cooperatives are also based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.

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