By VOM News Team
A section of tea nursery bed operators in Kisoro district, earlier this week openly expressed their dissatisfaction towards the way, payments by Pathways Advocate towards nursery bed operators in Kigezi region were handled.
Government, having failed to procure tea seedlings from 10 districts in Kigezi region after having popularized tea growing on a commercial scale, following a warm Presidential directive of 2008, an out of court settlement between Government and the affected tea nursery bed operators was agreed upon, amounting to 39 billion Ugandan shillings.
The mid-week meeting held at the Kisoro District Council hall with key stakeholders including Pathways Advocate Lawyer Patrick Kiconco Katabazi and Byaruhanga Frank, the Regional Chairperson of Tea Nursery Bed Operators in South western Uganda among others, gave room for the disgruntled tea nursery bed operators from Kisoro to freely express themselves.
Wilberforce Mucunguzi from Rubuguri Town Council, an educator and a seasoned farmer admits that some monies from the law firm were paid and received by all beneficiaries.
Mucunguzi says his issues of concern the alleged mischievous conduct of Kisoro District Speaker Amos Hakizimana and the Bufumbira North Member of Parliament Hon. John Kamara Nzeyimana who orchestrated the plans to be the sole beneficiaries of the mega cash pay-out.
“At the time of deducting 30% from our money there was no written documentation or attached letter saying that our money was going to be deducted, except Hon. Speaker (Amos Hakizimana) who told us to present our National Identification Numbers (NIN), our National Identity Cards which we provided and signed as we had been instructed to do”, Mucunguzi explained.
Mucunguzi further pins the Bufumbira North MP Hon. John Kamara who advised the (beneficiaries) to simply sign on blank papers in order to get their cash.
“It is true, the District Speaker said the money was available. We were asked to sign on some papers that we had all received money in cash which was not true. Hon. Kamara told me, Mucunguzi, simply sign because we are going to steal from Government”, Mucunguzi said.
Mucunguzi’s account of events, during the meeting at the council hall was fortified by more than 50 other people present.
However only a handful of men and women had the courage to speak out that day.
The negative spotlight on embattled city lawyer of Patrick Kiconco Katabazi quickly shifted onto the District Speaker Amos Hakizimana, who was also present in the meeting.
Attempts to independently verify the claims against Hakizimana and Hon. Kamara did not yield results as the district Speaker promised to speak with the media on a later date.
Hon John Kamara, who did not attend the meeting is said to have kept filters in the room and was well aware of the proceedings. He too, declined to speak to the media.
Several other tea nursery bed operators snubbed the meeting, upon hearing that the Pathway Advocate lawyer, Patrick Kiconco Katabazi, was free and about his daily business.
Katabazi, who only a few weeks back was a key suspect in the mismanagement of the funds and was even briefly detained by Police at Parliament after failing to produce adequate proof of accountability said he has not been legally implicated for any crime.
Katabazi, in fact added that it is laughable for some beneficiaries to claim money from their accounts had been removed.
He explained that it is nearly impossible under the banking laws in Uganda for any amount of money to be moved or transferred without the authorization of the bank account owner.
The English language offers a term really used today; hook, line and sinker which simply refers to a situation where someone is tricked or forced into something they do not quite completely understand.
Question, were the tea nursery bed operators in Kisoro really duped or did they agree to go along with the plans to benefit quickly from the cash bonanza?
Is there any concrete evidence to pin the District Speaker or the Hon. Member of Parliament who are the alleged mafias in this scandal in Kisoro?
Bukimbiri County Member of Parliament, Hon. Eddie Kwizera Wa Gahungu raised the alarm after randomly sampling five beneficiaries out of the 142 who confessed they had not received any money.