The Inspector General of Government (IGG) is set to investigate circumstances under which Mr Twebaze Bemanya, the embattled Registrar General of Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) had his contract renewed nine months before expiration of his current tenure.
The contract renewal, which caught many including employees at the bureau by surprise, was sanctioned by Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, on June 19, 2019, to take effect in March 2020 till 2025.
According to the renewal letter signed by Minister Otafiire, Bemanya’s reappointment cones with terms and conditions which include a consolidated salary of Shs 159m; a chauffeur driven vehicle; medical care for his family; gratuity and other benefits.
The renewal came in the midst of confrontation between Bemanya and State Minister for Privatization, Hon Evelyn Anite, who wanted him removed as administrator of the cash-strapped Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), over his refusal to allow and audit into the telecom’s operations.
A whistle-blower has since petitioned the IGG, Mrs Irene Mulyagonja, asking her to investigate what he sees as deep seated corruption at the bureau.
Particularly, the whistle-blower wants the IGG to probe Bemanya’s contract renewal at URSB, which he says didn’t follow due process.
“Madam IGG, this is July 5, 2019. However, Mr. Bemanya Twebaze already has a contract in his hands renewing his services for extra 5 years starting March 2020. This is 9 months in advance. Why the haste?” the whistle-blower wondered.
“What happens if he messes-up in the 9 months before expiry of current contract? Isn’t it common practice that renewal is done 3 months to expiry of contract? This is highly irregular and corrupt.”
The whistle-blower claims among others that several key steps were deliberately skipped in renewing the contract.
“His performance was never done. The claim that the Board of Directors of URSB sat to review performance of Mr. Twebaze is false. On pressure of Gen. Otafiire, the Board Chairman of URSB Amb. Canon Francis Butagira wrote a lone letter to the Minister recommending renewal of Contract for Bemanya without unanimous decision of the Board.”
“As I write to you, Mr. Twebaze and his inner circle at URSB are cooking Board minutes and mobilizing Board members to approve backdated minutes. The pressure of Gen. Kahinda Otafiire on Amb. Francis Butagira to recommend renewal of contract for Mr. Bemanya should also be investigated.”
The whistle-blower went on to question the minister’s motivation to hastily hand Bemanya another term.
“Is it because Gen. Otafiire’s wife is a senior manager at URSB who was recruited not in line with procedures? Isn’t this a conflict of interest since the Minister is the supervisor of Mr. Bemanya?”
The IGG was also called to look into the manner Mr Bemanya has been handling the bureau’s finances.
The whistle-blower claims large sums of money have been withdrawn from the bureau’s bank accounts, where Bemanya is the only signatory.
These accounts include, the Companies Contingency Fund Account in Stanbic Bank Metro Branch; the Companies in Liquidation Account in Standard Chartered Bank, Speke Road and the Companies in Liquidation Account in Standard Chartered Bank Speke Road.
“On some of the Accounts above, big amounts of money have been withdrawn without trace and large amounts of money also were fixed and interest earned cannot be traced,” noted the whistle-blower.
Officials at URSB were yet to respond to our request for comments, while Mr Bemanya didn’t pick our repeated calls.
But the IGG Spokeswoman Ms Ali Munira confirmed that the office had received the complaint on Friday morning, which she said would soon be forwarded to the IGG herself for sanctioning.