Disagreements between Hillary Onek, the Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees minister, and his boss Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja have escalated, with the former threatening to resign if the latter does not stop micromanaging his office.
Minister Onek, who has served under three prime ministers, says PM Nabbanja has in recent months been interdicting staff in his ministry before conducting probes.
He also questions Nabbanja’s decisions, which are reportedly taken without consulting the line minister.
The claims are contained in a letter written on October 29, the second protest note following one written on September 15.
The letter has been copied to the appointing authority President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah and his deputy Anita Annet Among as well as junior minister in charge of relief, disaster preparedness and refugees Davinia Anyakun.
One of the issues Nabbanja and Onek previously agreed on is the diversion of Shs5bn from a Shs15bn vote to the ministry of relief, disaster preparedness and refugees.
Now, Onek has made it clear he should not be held responsible for Nabbanja’s omissions and commissions accruing to her alleged micromanagement style.
MINISTER ONEK’S PROTEST LETTER TO PM ROBINAH NABBANJA
From the time of your appointment, I have been observing with total displeasure the fact that my role and that of my deputy as the Ministers in charge of refugees and disaster and the lead policymakers on the matters of refugee and disaster management have been TOTALLY usurped by your office.
This is quite evident by the way you have been calling for meetings, going to disaster-affected places and visiting refugee settlements without informing either my office or that of my deputy. To my shock, my staff who I supervise are the ones being called for meetings and not the line ministers.
On 29th October 2021, you called for a meeting with the local leadership of Bududa without involving my office or even the area members of parliament which may lead to decisions being made that contradicts earlier and official cabinet position.
You have also purged the department of disaster management, taken over the distribution of relief items and causing interdiction of staff members without proper investigation. The interdicted staff were accused of causing financial loss without conducting a forensic audit by involving the auditor general. On 5th October, you wrote to my office halting the settlement of refugees in Kyangwali over land ownership dispute, this decision was arrived at without involving either me or my deputy or any technical staff from the department of refugees.
There are several reports about the land in Kyangwali like the report by the late Gen. Julius Oketta that dates as far back as 2014, the Nakalema report and other reports from ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development that should have helped guide your decision. Undercutting the ministry of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees and directly working with local government officials will lead to further contradictions and confusion.
I have worked with the previous three Prime Ministers and all along, I know that the constitutional role is to coordinate legislative agenda and lead government business in parliament and monitor all ministries and government programs. They never got involved in micro-management of other ministries. If you decide to micromanage other ministries, what then is the role of the sector ministers who are supposed to plan, make policies and deliver on the manifesto of H.E the president.
Rt. Hon Prime minister, if you have decided to carry on working like this and rendering my docket irrelevant, kindly put it in writing to H.E the president who is the appointing authority and I will relieve myself of my responsibilities and allow you carry on with your duties. I will NOT be held accountable for decisions that have been taken without my input.