LET THEM CARRY THEIR CROSS: Keith Muhakanizi Warned Museveni Ministers Against Karamoja Mabaati but They Didn’t Listen

Keith Muhakanizi. Courtesy Photo

Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Lucy Nakyobe has revealed that former Permanent Secretary of the Office of Prime Minister (OPM) Keith Muhakanizi predicted the current Karamoja iron sheets (mabaati) scandal and had warned ministers against it but they did not listen. 

Muhakanizi passed on last week in Italy where he had been flown for treatment. (Read Details Here).

Muhakanizi was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Secretary to the Treasury (PSST) for eight years, serving from 2013 through July 2021 when he has replaced by youthful economist Ramathan Ggoobi, and sent to the OPM as Permanent Secretary. (See Details Here).

Muhakanizi came in at the time when a new cabinet had been appointed for Museveni’s new term of office running from 2021 through 2026. (See cabinet list Here).

As an experienced PS and one who was renowned for being principled, Muhakanizi was shocked by the behavior of the new ministers, especially by how they wanted to distribute the iron sheets meant for the karachunas in Karamoja amongst themselves.

And soon, Muhakanizi had some disagreements with the new ministers in the OPM. In one top management meeting, Muhakanizi even quarreled with the ministers. He would call Nakyobe, whom he always referred to as ‘my boss,’ telling her of how badly the new ministers in the OPM were behaving.

According to Nakyobe, Muhakanizi had accurately predicted the mabaati scandal. But in that call to the head of public service and secretary to cabinet, the OPM PS had faulted Nakyobe, formerly the State House comptroller, of failing to induct the new ministers. He was apparently shocked that the ministers did not understand the weight of their offices.

“Keith had seen that circus coming and he’d even been to my office before it came up. He had had top management in his office. He even came accusing me of not not inducting the ministers,” Nakyobe said during the official funeral service for Muhakanizi at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala.

“I did, only that you were in Turkey,” was Nakyobe’s reply to Muhakanizi. The OPM PS then told Nakyobe: “I have been quarreling with them in today’s top management. I have warned them these stores are going to cause them problems.”

A month and a half later, the Karamoja iron sheets scandal broke after Minister Dr Mary Goretti Kitutu’s brother and their mother were arrested for reportedly selling iron sheets meant for Karamoja (See Details Here).

“Didn’t I predict so?” Muhakanizi told Nakyobe to which the concerned head of public service and secretary to cabinet replied that “this thing is making government look uglier” and went on to ask the PS what he thinks should be done.

“I warned those ministers. Let them take responsibility,” was Muhakanizi’s answer.

Nakyobe also revealed that Muhakanizi had proposed restructuring of the OPM and that he was supposed to write a cabinet memo, in which it would be clear that the OPM would only play a coordinating role while another institution would play the implementation role.

At least three ministers have been arrested over the Karamoja iron sheets scandal. There were reports that Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, who appeared panicky as he delivered his remarks at the Muhakanizi official funeral, had resigned. (Read our story on these reports Here).

Describing the late PS a principled man who wanted things to be done the right way and one who would war you never to refer to him if things backfired and the Auditor General came knocking at your door, Nakyobe also asked Museveni to appoint a courageous person like Muhakanizi who would not tolerate corruption.

You can read the ‘RIP You Fool’ tribute by one of Muhakanizi’s best friends Here.

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