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SACCO Demands Leadership Audit

SHEEMA – Members of Kitagata Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society have signed a petition urging the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority, UMRA, to audit the SSACCO leadership.

In their letter dated April 14 2021, SACCO members demanded a leadership audit into what they called “inflated and fraudulent financial reports presented during their annual general meeting (AGM), insider money lending to relatives and sharing of SACCO funds amongst the management, which contravenes section 95(a) of the Sacco by-laws.” 

They also accuse their leaders of misappropriating Shs 2.2million.

The SACCO, formed around 1993-1995, currently has over 4,000 members.

Last weekend, a petition circulated widely showing that Kitagata, once a vibrant SACCO in Sheema District, was struggling and teetering on the brink of collapse.

“In western Uganda, it was Kyamuhunga and Kitagata on top of financial management but if you can check now Kyamuhunga People’s SACCO is now modern. You can even bank using the internet while for us with a membership of over 4,000 we are struggling and on the brink of collapse. I think we need to fight hard to restore our lost glory,” Laban Muhabwe, a retired police officer, said. 

Muhabwe, a member of Kitagata SACCO, accused the District Commercial Officer of Sheema of interfering with the SACCO operations.

“I was appointed as the secretary of the supervisory committee but because I brought out issues, which were pertinent, Allan expelled me from the committee. But is it the work of the commercial officer to expel any members from the SACCO committee?” Muhabwe asked.

Muhabwe said the commercial officer also used his powers to remove him from the supervisory committee and appointed a new vetting committee usurping all the powers of the SACCO management.

“I was also among the candidates vying for the chairmanship seat, so why didn’t they leave the vetting committee to do its work without interference? Muhabwe asked.

He also alleges that the district commercial officer has been colluding with the manager to swindle SACCO funds.

“I am corrupt free and I won’t allow them to take our money again. That’s why he appointed a new vetting committee when we still had a serving committee? You can see how his actions stifle the performance of Kitagata SACCO,” Muhabwe emphasized

Muhabwe, who served as chairman of Exodus SACCO between 2012-2014, said he is ready to turnaround the fortunes of Kitagata SACCO.

“I moved Exodus SACCO from Shs 1.8billion to Shs 7-8 billion within two years then I retired in 2015. So why do you deny me a chance to take on the leadership of Kitagata SACCO where I am a fully-fledged member with over two million shares?” he asked.

Alfred Nuwamanya, another member, said most of the sticking issues would have been addressed during the last AGM but it ended prematurely after the commercial officer suspended elections of the new board committee.

Edith Tusuubira, the Executive Director of Uganda Micro Finance Regulatory Authority, confirmed receiving the SACCO’s petition for a leadership audit.

Frank Besigye Kyerere, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Sheema, said he had not received a copy of the petition nor word from UMRA.

He warned however, that misappropriating members’ savings can lead to arrest and prosecution of the errant SACCO managers.

“I haven’t gotten any copy but I just say it’s unfortunate. You see a SACCO is a body corporate if you are a leader of a SACCO and you embezzle funds you should be charged,” he said. 

Karakure Buhanda Allan, the District Commercial Officer of Sheema blamed the Kitagata saga on Muhabwe.

“There is no way you can call a general meeting of over 10,000 members yet members hold their pre-AGMs in their respective villages,” Allan said.

He said Kitagata SACCO is now recovering from the entrenched losses it suffered under the old management.

“From 2005 they had a dormant board, which was led by Rev Bashoborwa. The then manager had taken control of the institution and was fraudulent. And to me for the last four years Kitagata has been on a recovery course.” he said.

He said the former manager was also charged with embezzlement after causing financial loss of over Shs 180 million.

Allan confirmed that the SACCO board had expired in 2019 but the outbreak of Covid-19 never allowed Kitagata to hold any AGM.

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