Byabakama breaks silence on EC sackings

EC boss Justice Simon Byabakama. Courtesy Photo

Electoral Commission (EC) chairperson Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama has spoken out on sackings at the elections body, including that of secretary Sam Rwakoojo and spokesperson Jotham Taremwa.

On July 21, Museveni fired Rwakoojo, Taremwa and others over alleged corruption regarding the printing and storage of ballot papers for the 2021 elections.

Those fired included IT Director and head of technical support services Pontius Namugera, Finance and Administration Director Joseph Lwanga, and procurement boss Godfrey Wanyoto.

Others are: Data Department chief Edgar Kasigwa, networks administrator Jordan Lubega and data section staffer Charles Musuza.

Read: Were Top EC bosses fired over Bobi Wine NUP Party or Ballot Paper Printing scandal?

But EC chairperson Byabakama has told reporters at the commission’s headquarters in Kampala that the exit of the eight officials had nothing to do with procurement corruption scandals.

Byabakama said the staff had asked to retire before the end of their contracts, citing personal reasons they couldn’t divulge to the commission.

“It is not strange for someone to seek to retire even when one was given a contract a month or two back or even one’s contract renewed,” he said.

“The reasons for seeking early retirement are personal.”

The EC boss also told reporters that “we were not directed by His Excellency the President to sack them over procurement issues” but could not rule out reports that the Inspectorate of Government was investigating the officials.

He also dismissed reports that the officials were shown the exit for knocking out Veridos Identity Solutions, the company Museveni reportedly preferred.

“The process of procuring and printing ballot papers is ongoing. We haven’t, however, awarded that contract to a particular person or company.”

Uganda will hold local council, parliamentary and presidential elections next year despite the Covid19 threat.

With Uganda’s infection toll a little over 1,000 and less than 100 active cases, EC has urged caution in electoral activities. But a procurement scandal and the sackings at the Commission have raised eyebrows.

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