OPM faces fresh iron sheets scandal: Minister Kitutu summoned

Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mary Gorreti Kitutu while in court

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In a startling turn of events, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) finds itself embroiled in yet another iron sheets scandal, with fresh revelations coming to light.

The Karamoja Affairs Minister, Mary Goretti Kitutu, who is already facing trial over a previous iron sheets scandal, has brought a new twist to the ongoing saga.

In a recent letter addressed to President Yoweri Museveni, Kitutu expressed concern over missing iron sheets at the OPM. The letter disclosed that she had directed the new Permanent Secretary to investigate a shortfall of 11,006 iron sheets from the OPM stores. This discrepancy appears to be separate from the 14,500 sheets previously alleged to have been stolen, raising questions about the extent of the issue.

“Your Excellency, I have directed the new permanent secretary to follow up on how a shortfall of 11,006 iron sheets came out of the OPM stores because this is not part of the 14,500 sheets which were alleged to have been stolen by the ministers,” reads part of the letter to the president but not copied to the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.

What adds another layer to the unfolding drama is the fresh summons issued by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) Beti Kamya Turomwe  to Minister Kitutu over the controversial iron sheet saga.

In a letter seen by the Kampala Dispatch, written on December 6th, 2023, Kamya ordered Kitutu to appear before her office on Thursday, January 11th, 2024.

The letter says the Minister is required to give information about the ongoing inquiry.

“And also bring with you and to produce at that time place any documents or information in respect to the management of supplementary funds that were released to the Office of the Prime Minister to support peace-building activities in Karamoja Sub-Region in FY 2021/2022,” says Kamya in her summons.

The letter referenced inquiry: HQT/CO/186/2023 was received by the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs on January 4th, 2024.

Dr. Mary Gorreti Kitutu lawyer, Jude Byamukama, has however protested these summons, arguing that they seem to be an attempt by IGG Beti Kamya and her team to reopen investigations while Kitutu is already slated for trial.

Byamukama emphasized the puzzling nature of subjecting a defendant to a new investigation over matters forming the core of the pending criminal trial. This raises concerns about the legal complexities surrounding the case and the potential implications for Kitutu’s ongoing legal proceedings.

The OPM, already under scrutiny due to the initial iron sheets scandal involving Kitutu and fellow ministers, now faces renewed challenges with the emergence of this fresh scandal.

The credibility of the office is at stake as it grapples with allegations of mismanagement and the apparent loss of a significant quantity of iron sheets intended for community development programs.

Also Read: Minister Kitutu pleads to Museveni for forgiveness over iron sheets theft

As investigations unfold, there will likely be increased attention on how the OPM addresses these allegations, especially considering the call by Minister Kitutu for a political resolution rather than a legal process.

The intertwined issues of missing iron sheets and the legal proceedings against Kitutu create a complex situation that demands careful examination.

The latest developments underscore the need for transparency and accountability within government agencies. As the OPM navigates this new scandal, the public will be watching closely to see how authorities handle the investigation, the pending trial, and the broader implications for the reputation of the government and its officials involved.