President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s younger brother Gen Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh has in recent years been synonymous with Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).
Coming on the heels of several aborted poverty eradication initiatives, OWC was marketed by Museveni’s government as the right magic bullet to shoot poverty out of households and communities.
President Museveni’s UPDF officers would serve as coordinators to ensure efficiency and to reduce corruption akin to that which had failed previous projects.
But one leading businessman and farmer now thinks otherwise and wants Museveni to know this sad truth.
“You had much confidence in the UPDF/OWC Coordinators but [they] have betrayed you,” writes Arnold Mushabe in his letter to President Museveni months ago.
Mushabe runs Bunyonyi Coffee Nursery in Lwamanyonyi, Lwengo District.
In his three-page petition titled ‘Irregular Operations of OWC Coordinators, civil servants, leaders and investigators in Operation Wealth Creation Programmes in Lwengo District,’ Mushabe exposes a cartel that “connive and sabotage your [Museveni Government’s] programmes and efforts of fighting poverty among Ugandans.”
IGG, OWC BOSSES, FORMER MAAIF MINISTER SSEMPIJJA ON THE SPOT
According to the businessman and farmer, several offices that should have helped fight corruption and rot in OWC have greeted his complaints with deaf ears.
He has told President Museveni that on June 16, 2016, he wrote to minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (Maaif) Vincent Ssempijja complaining how coordinators had refused to include local coffee nurseries in OWC activities and supply chain.
“There has never been a response or any kind of action taken as far as this issue is concerned,” Mushabe said.
The president replaced Ssempijja with Frank Tumwebaze as Maaif minister.
Not ready to give up, Mushabe petitioned Inspector General of Government (IGG) Irene Mulyagonja (now a member of the Court of Appeal bench) showing “empirical evidence” regarding “fraud in coffee seedlings distribution and non-involvement of local coffee nurseries in OWC programmes.”
“I followed up the complaint addressed to the Inspector General of Government on March 05, 2017 and on April 04, 2017, but all in vain.”
Mushabe then ran to the then OWC deputy chief coordinator (DCC) Lt Gen Charles Angina, penning a letter to the general on August 10, 2017.
“The deputy chief coordinator responded by sending investigators on August 17, 2017, but didn’t solve the problems and transferred/suspended the OWC coordinator,” further wrote Mushabe. “There has never been any official communication from the DCC.”
He added that he had “tried to report this concern to the chief coordinator, Operation Wealth Creation, but all in vain.”
CORRUPTION CARTEL THRIVES ON CONNIVANCE
According to the petitioner, it has become difficult to have relevant authorities take action against those alleged in alleged fraud because of connivance.
Mushabe also seemed to suggest that the mafia cartel had devised mechanisms of punishing those that opposed its schemes.
“You urged us to be vigilant, to write and report to you through your agencies and representatives but we are not given any opportunity to be heard since they are the ones involved in these malpractices and complaints are left hanging in balance,” he said.
“Investigators connive with the culprits and frame the vigilantes deliberately with intention to break them down and feed the government with wrong information leading to failure and difficulty in fighting corruption.”
INFLATED SEEDLING PRICES
He also talked of how OWC coordinators connive with suppliers to cheat government.
“The OWC coordinators also connive with the suppliers in the distribution of inputs and inflate figures and suppliers claim for huge payments from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) while feeding the government with wrong information by arranging paperwork for accountability purposes only,” he continued.
“The information in the paperwork neither represents nor matches what is on the ground.”
When he opposed this crooked method of theft, further reveals Mushabe, the mafia cartel had thrown him out of the supply chain.
“The LCV Chairperson Lwengo [George Mutabazi] asked and demanded 50 shillings per seedling while the OWC coordinator insisted that I sell to him seedlings at 100 shillings each of which I didn’t accept,” he narrated.
“After failing to fulfill their demand, I was denied a chance to supply coffee seedlings to farmers. I personally lost 580,000 elite coffee seedlings and other genuine nursery operators also lost their seedlings in large quantities but didn’t raise up their complaints though they were trained, certified and recognized by Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).”
He added that he had tried to inform DCC Lt Gen Angina in writing but “the cartel, together with investigators, devised plans to intimidate and other means to break me down so as to maintain their positions.”
Mushabe also reveals how much he is tired of reporting to relevant graft fighting agencies which have failed to help. He now wants Museveni to “intervene in this matter high handedly and prosecute the culprits that sabotage and undermine your efforts of fighting poverty” or get ready to see more people hate his government.
“I have tried to write and report with empirical evidence to different organisations that deal with fighting corruption but all have kept silent. We lost our nurseries and we have lost confidence in raising complaints since they are not worked on,” Mushabe continued.
“Since the complaints have been left hanging in balance, the cartel have continued with their impunity, fraud, malpractices and conflict of interest. People have ended up hating NRM government and leaders because of these culprits.”