At least eight top officials of the Electoral Commission (EC), including secretary Sam Rwakoojo and spokesperson Jotham Taremwa have been fired over alleged corruption.
The shock sackings happened on July 21, hours before President Yoweri Museveni addressed the nation on the Coronavirus situation in the country.
Before the address, Museveni tweeted he had had “a fruitful day of meetings and consultations in Entebbe.”
As it has now turned out, one of those meetings sealed the fate of accounting officer Rwakoojo, and Taremwa.
Also fired are 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.
Museveni had reportedly unearthed rot in the procurement of communication services, and expenditure of a Shs17bn budget warehousing services for electoral materials.
This included over Shs165m meant for consultancy services on public engagements strategy, which the EC failed to account for since there was no strategy to show.
Another amount that reportedly irked Museveni was Shs150m meant to produce a documentary to look at Uganda’s elections, with a view of marketing NRM’s record on electoral democracy compared to past regimes.
Also, Museveni is said to have learnt that top officials had chewed Shs310m meant for building public trust and confidence in the EC and the 2021 election process.
Other reports indicate that Rwakoojo, Taremwa and their colleagues were shown the exit over a printing deal.
They had allegedly opposed the awarding of a contract for printing of 2021 election ballot papers to German firm Veridos Identity Solutions against Museveni recommendation.
ENTER BOBI WINE NATIONAL UNITY PLATFORM PARTY
Other observers are pointing to EC’s decision to allow the change of name of Moses Kibalama Nkonge’s National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party (NURD) to NUP.
That Museveni was annoyed to learn that over a year ago, the EC okayed the change, well aware that Bobi Wine, a new kid on the political block, was taking over its leadership.
Analysts fronting this theory to explain the EC sackings argue that it can’t have been a coincidence that the EC officials got fired a day before Bobi Wine and Kibalama unveiled their NUP alliance.
It is said that Museveni was shocked to learn that Bobi Wine had acquired a party from little known Kibalama Nkonge.
He was reportedly furious that the EC had kept him in the dark over what is obviously an important development to him.
Bobi Wine has already declared he will challenge President Museveni in next year’s presidential election.
In power since 1986, Museveni is seeking to extend his rule beyond 35 years.
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) chairman reportedly told his party’s top leaders in Entebbe that EC had been infiltrated with elements working for Bobi Wine.
Museveni had reportedly been reluctant to fire Rwakoojo, Taremwa and others over the corruption scandals, that included alleged inflation of the 2021 elections budget, a matter State House Anti-Corruption Unit’s Lt Col Edith Nakalema was investigating.
But on July 20, the president is said to have got intelligence reports that Bobi Wine and Kibalama Konge were planning to unveil NUP at Kamwokya.
Bobi Wine had caught Museveni and his NRM off guard.
Looking for answers on how Kyadondo East MP had outsmarted him, Museveni concluded that Rwakoojo and the others had colluded with Bobi Wine.
That Bobi Wine had used the EC team to acquire a party without him knowing anything about the 11-month process enormously made Museveni lose trust in Rwakoojo, a long-serving commission official, in ensuring that NRM is not cheated in next year’s election.
In most of the by-elections NRM lost in past five years, Museveni and his party claimed the opposition had rigged him out.
Museveni was, therefore, convinced that Rwakoojo and other alleged Bobi Wine men in the EC could shock the NRM by handing the opposition victory.
Bobi Wine’s attempts to register People Power as a party had hit a snag after NRM-leaning events promoter Balaam Barugahara allegedly registered it as an NGO.
Additional Reporting: Courtesy