KAMPALA – An inquiry by the Office of the President has said that an anti-poverty group operating in Rukungiri District is operating as a non-governmental organization and should not benefit from any form of government funding.
Boona Bagaigahare Nyekundire Group has since October been a subject of investigation by State House over alleged fraud after the group leader, Ms Peace Rugambwa, claimed that claimed to have spent about 1.9 billion shillings of her own money to mobilise NRM supporters in Rukungiri on behalf of the directive of President Museveni to fight poverty, which she wants him to refund.
However, after over a month of investigation, a five-member State House probe team led by Mr Francis Batinti on Wednesday presented the findings of the report, indicating that the group does not operate as a mobilization outfit but rather as an NGO since members pay a membership fee of 12,000 shillings.
The report findings also indicated that the group has a membership of 17,198 members and 2,442 of these are elderly persons over 70 years. It also revealed that the unions and mattresses which the group leaders claimed to have supplied to all members were not actually supplied. For instance, only 42 group members received mattresses and others 57 had been bought, pending distribution. For the onions, the report revealed that they had been distributed in 2016 when residents had not registered under this group.
As a result, the report concluded that Boona Bagaigahare Nyekundire Group is like an NGO and its leadership could organize funding elsewhere but not the government’s consolidated fund. It also concluded that since Ms Rugambwa collected Shs12000 membership fee from people as an NRM mobiliser, the party should pay this money back.
Ms Rugambwa was not available for a comment but said Mr Emmy Turyabagenyi, a member of the group, who attended the meeting for the presentation of the findings, said the report is biased.
“This report is biased and against a good cause for service delivery for a grass root person, a lot is missing like the many people that received onion seeds, we joined this group on a voluntary basis and saying NRM party refunds us Shs 12000 is really a shame. If they are weaknesses let them be rectified but this group stays,” said Mr Turyabagenyi.
Earlier before the report could be presented, some Boona Bagaigahare Nyekundire Group members stormed the venue, claiming that they were not invited to the meeting yet they are stakeholders. However, the group was allowed to attend by RDC Dan Kaguta.
While sanctioning the investigation in September, the State House Comptroller, Ms Lucy Nakyobe, said they wanted to establish whether Ms Rugambwa spent all the money on mobilisation.
“She said she gave out onion seedlings and mattresses to the elderly, and during the woman MP bye-election, she also mobilised the people to vote the NRM candidate and that she is in debts that are almost making her to lose her property,” Ms Nakyobe said in Rukungiri. According to group members, each one paid Shs12,000 as subscription fee so as to qualify to benefit from the different items given such as mattresses, seeds and loans.