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Matia Kasaija Resignation Reports: Here’s the Truth

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija. Courtesy Photo

In what could have been the first resignation since news of the Karamoja iron sheets (mabaati) scandal broke months ago, reports that Matia Kasaija, the elderly Ugandan minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), had either resigned – or that he was at least pondering voluntarily quitting his juicy position – have been spreading on social media.

The Kampala rumor mill had claimed that Kasaija, one of the many minister and members of the Ugandan Parliament named in the mabaati theft and diversion scandal, had reportedly been pushed to the wall by his boss, the country’s long serving president Gen Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni, who was said to have shown little interest in saving Kasaija from the long arm of the law.

According to the grapevine, high-level meetings had been held to discuss Kasaija’s fate, and that it had become clear that the only option the Buyanja County legislator was left with was to leave cabinet.

In what appeared like a surprising move, Gen Museveni recently asked his ministers involved in the iron sheets scandal to carry their crosses. Dividing the suspects into two – those who consciously received the mabaati and those who unconsciously picked them – the 78-year-old ruler from Rwakitura accused some members of his cabinet of political corruption, voter bribery and subversion. (See Details on Museveni’s decision on what he will do to his ministers involved in theft of Karamoja iron sheets Here).

Perhaps attempting to show that he was shocked that members of his cabinet had taken the iron sheets that were meant for the karachunas (Karamojong youths previously involved in cattle rustling), the president vowed to take action after the Uganda Police Force (UPF) Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) has completed its probe into the allegations.

At least three of Kasaija’s cabinet colleagues have been to prison after they were arraigned before the Anti-Corruption Court. The first to appear before this temple of justice over the mabaati saga was Dr Mary Goretti Kitutu, the Minister for Karamoja Affairs. Kitutu, who first appeared at the court in a veil to hide her face from press cameras, spent her 2023 Easter break behind bars before she was granted bail.

Then followed Amos Lugolobi, the Minister of State (junior minister) in charge of planning, the man whose actions shocked the nation weeks ago after it emerged that he had used the Karamoja mabaati to roof his goat shed!

The next to be grilled by CID officers, face the Anti-Corruption Court and get remanded was Agness Nandutu, the junior minister in charge of Karamoja Affairs after she took herself to police following days of hiding from the men and women in uniform. Nandutu is currently on remand and will be arraigned before the High Court to which she was committed this week. Meanwhile, Lugoloobi is out on bail – just like Kitutu.

With the arrests, arraignments and detention of Kitutu, Lugoloobi and Nandutu, several ministers named in the iron sheets scandal are said to be living in fear, wondering who will be next. Reports indicate that Kasaija is among those who are likely to be arrested in a few days to come. Would he want to be in the dock and prison as a former minister or as the country’s serving minister of finance? Does he want to wait to be fired (that is if sackings will be part of the political action Gen Museveni promised Ugandans)?

For now, it appears that Kasaija will not be resigning soon and may wait to be hounded out of cabinet through the appointing authority’s orders sacking and replacing him with another appointee or suspending him for a definite period of time. Renowned journalist and political analyst has quoted Kasaija as denying reports of his resignation and labelling them ‘fake news.’

“Some people are spreading news that the minister of finance, Matia Kasaija, has resigned. I have personally talked to the minister and he has confirmed to me that it is fake news!” wrote Mwenda.

It should be remembered that when he appeared before the Presidential Affairs Committee of Parliament, Kasaija told MPs that they should crucify him if they want to but he did not know how the iron sheets got to his compound (perhaps they miraculously flew there). (See Details Here).

Meanwhile, he has since returned the iron sheets, just like some of his colleagues have. But returning the mabaati has not saved some of the ministers. Will it save Kasaija? We might have the answer to this question in a few days.

About a year ago, Minister Matia Kasaija said that every Family in Uganda Will Have Shs20m by 2026 and that People Who Remain Poor Should Be Caned. (Read Story Here).

Museveni: Corruption starts from Ministry of Finance

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