A top level organ of the East African Community (EAC) has rescinded punitive measures taken by the Secretariat against senior officials accused of corruption and abuse of office, a move officials said would undermine efforts to clean the organization of wrong apples.
The Audit Commission composed of Auditors General of all Partner States in October recommended an investigation into the Senior Procurement Officer Anjimbi Ponventra’s works over what they considered fraudulent processes.
To pave way for an investigation, EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko suspended Anjimbi, a Kenyan, from work.
Mfumukeko also sent a letter of warning to the Human Resource Director, Ruth Simba, a Tanzanian.
Another warning letter was dispatched to the Counsel to the Community, Dr. Anthony Kafumbe, a Ugandan.
Kafumbe is accused of clearing all irregular procurements at EAC.
Interestingly, the Coordination Committee composed of Permanent Secretaries and Under Secretaries in Ministries in charge of EAC Affairs today Tuesday met in Arusha, Tanzania where they decided that “there is need to ensure the actions taken against the three staff were in line with the staff rules and regulations of the community to avoid any litigation that would lead to costs to the community.”
The Coordination Committee, according to today’s minutes seen by ChimpReports, recommended to the Council of Ministers which will sit tomorrow to “rescind the actions taken against the three staff by Nov.30 if the due process was not followed.”
High ranking Ugandan officials said these actions frustrate efforts to address corruption at EAC and also cultivate a fertile ground for impunity at the body.
An investigation by ChimpReports shows that despite Anjimbi being suspended, he was still receiving 100 percent of his salary during the suspension period.
“This is how high ranking officials in partner states undermine the authority of Executives at EAC and make any positive change impossible,” said a knowledgeable Ugandan official who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely.
Records show every year 70 percent to 80 percent of audit queries are about procurement and Human Resource management.
And more disturbingly, over the last 10 years, no disciplinary measures have ever been taken against the corrupt individuals.
It’s understood Partner States usually defend their own when disciplinary measures are taken by the community’s Secretary Generals.
“For the Permanent Secretaries, suspension of the Senior Procurement Officer and warnings to HR Director and CTC over issues severally identified by the Audit Commission are not acceptable,” said an official, adding, “This is a total shame.”
“Discipline has never been enforced because countries defend or cover for their nationals.”
Uganda’s 2nd Deputy Prime Minister Hon Kirunda Kivenjinja was unreachable for comment when we filed this story as his known mobile phone was switched off.
Mess in procurement
But records seen by this investigative website show EAC purchased security equipments for over $580,000 in 2014 which don’t work.
Counsel Kafumbe was reportedly involved in clearing the contract.
In 2016, Anjimbi appointed an evaluation committee (against the financial rules and regulations of EAC) to procure medical insurance for EAC.
Confidential reports show the evaluation committee picked AAR Insurance which had not submitted financial statements for 2015 as required in the tender but in the evaluation report said the statements were submitted.
This was purportedly to eliminate Jubilee Insurance which had submitted all the required documentation; but in the report the committee said Jubilee had not submitted financial statements.
The contract was given to AAR (over $600,000). The Audit Commission has qualified that as a fraudulent operation.
Many other flaws were found in that procurement.
In 2017, Anjimbi appointed again (against the rules) an evaluation committee for procurement of a property management company for the EAC Headquarters.
All competitors were eliminated and the company picked, M/S Proper, had bid for $120,000 for one year.
But the next day after award of business to M/S Proper by the Procurement Committee, Anjimbi reportedly went to negotiate with the same company only to set a price of over $180,000.
Mfumukeko refused to sign the contract as the negotiation report showed figures were revised from $120,000 to $180,000.
Auditors discovered that cars at EAC were insured at their value when they were new.
Even cars which are 10 years old or which were no longer functional were insured as if they were new, costing the EAC thousands of dollars in financial loss.
Investigators also found quite a number of companies providing services to EAC without any contract or any procurement process.
Today’s coordination meeting which let EAC staff off the hook was chaired by Edith Mwanje (PS Uganda).