President Yoweri Museveni has ordered the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate cases of extortion and mismanagement of funds meant for Parish Development Model (PDM) in Acholi sub-region.
While addressing the gathering at Kaunda grounds in Gulu City as he concluded his Acholi sub region tour on investment and wealth creation last month under the theme: “Securing your future through wealth creation and shared prosperity”, the President received shocking revelations and testimonies from the locals on how the wealth creation campaign has been mismanaged in its infant stages, expressing fear that its intended objectives might not be achieved and promised to follow up.
The President on Wednesday met a group of local leaders from Acholi led by the Gulu Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Jane Francis Amongin Okili to follow up on complaints made in February.
The leaders included local council chairpersons, councilors, women and youth leaders and elders. The State House Anti-Corruption Unit Head Brigadier General Henry Isoke also attended the meeting.
Adokorach Doreen, a farmer from Onyama sub county, Gulu district, told the President that the PDM is good but has been mismanaged. She said in her area, people were called to the sub county instead of the parish and Community Development Officers collected 10,000 Uganda shillings from the beneficiaries to get registered in the Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisation (SACCO) and get certificates.
Opio Ronald Zola from Awach Sub County in Gulu district, said many of the SACCOs in Awach who registered their enterprises, up to now have not received the money, blaming the extension workers for delaying the process.
“To speak the truth Your Excellency, extension workers say they’re overloaded with work and up to now they have not been paid,” Opio said.
“If those staff are few, they can go on the radio and educate people like I do and people will listen,” the President responded.
Alex Odong Okoya, the LCII chairperson- Labourline ward in Laro, Pece division in Gulu City said in his area, the PDM secretariat rushed the enrollment of beneficiaries by giving a very short time of 3 days to enroll beneficiaries. He says very few people were registered and many, especially the poor, were left out.
President Museveni asked the State House Anti-Corruption Unit Head Brig. Isoke to follow up on the matters raised for appropriate action.
“Brig Isoke, you should check with the PDM secretariat about the instructions given in forming the Parish SACCOs. What are they telling the people so that you compare with what is on ground. Also check this report of the extension workers,” H.E Museveni said.
About corruption, President Museveni said the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government will not fail to bring to book all those involved in messing up the Parish Development Model in which the government has put in many resources to get people out of poverty.
He said the NRM government has always been in direct contact with the people and its leaders.
“For the corruption in Amuru, those corrupt people are stupid and we are going to arrest them. This money came and it will be traced, that’s why I started my upcountry tour and you’re helping me. I will go to other places also because the people are there. We are going to arrest them properly, we have got some rooms at Luzira, there’s some good accommodation there. Rubanga Tye (God is there),” the President warned.
President Museveni also thanked the leaders for doing a good job and enabling him to structure the method which the NRM put in place to work unlike in the past.
“Because when we came from the bush, there was the old structure of parish chiefs, Sub County chiefs etc., I had seen in colonial times that those structures cannot work for the people. That’s why I said that no, let the people elect their own people,” the President added, but expressed dismay that some leaders have failed him.
He said the Parish Development Model is meant to get everyone involved in wealth creation without any pay.
“That’s why we said, let the money go direct to the people themselves in the parish, because I don’t want a faraway place, and all of you who want to engage in wealth creation, join without paying anything,” the President said, adding that the PDM money belongs to the whole circle of the wealth creators in the parish who are the ones to elect their own leaders.
“We’re not going to change that because that’s really the answer,” he further noted.
The President believes the PDM will empower the local people to have their own banks which will in future save the poor from borrowing from commercial banks which charge high interest rates since each year each parish will be adding more Shs100 million, making it Shs500 million in 5 years.
“I want to thank you and happy to hear that you want to engage in the 4 acre model and I will support you,” H.E Museveni said.
The Parish Development Model project was launched by the President in February 2022 in Kibuku District with the parish as the lowest administrative and operational hub for delivering services closer to the people and hence fostering local economic development.