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REVEALED: Tension at Equal Opportunities Commission amid tribalism, corruption allegations

(Right – left) Ms. Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi, Chairperson Equal Opportunities Commission, Hon. Jovia Kamateka – Woman MP of Mitooma district and Hon. Bitekyero – MP of Kabiramaido listening to different questions on human rights and equal opportunities at the Human Rights Council. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), the government agency that is mandated to eliminate discrimination and inequalities against any individual in state institutions, is in the spotlight amid allegations of tribalism and corruption.

The allegations, which are a subject of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, are allegedly orchestrated by the chairperson of EOC, Ms Sylvia Ntambi Muwebwa.

Ms Ntambi is accused of superintending over unethical practices that have seen staff polarized along tribal lines, which has created a toxic working environment.

The allegations are contained in a petition by a whistleblower to President Museveni detailing cases of unfair staff dismissal, irregular interdiction, resignations and refusal to renew staff contracts amid allegations of tribalism.

“There is a clear divide between the Westerners and the Baganda. The Westerners are blacklisted, side-lined and fought up to exit. “Some officers who were given the jobs without interviews are indeed very difficult to work with and/or supervise because they belong to the “royal family” of the Commission,” the report reads in part.

It is alleged that Ms Ntambi has been recruiting her relatives and tribe mates without following the due procedures.

It is also alleged that she has been embezzling the Commission’s funds through inflated and non-existent trips abroad, workshops and seminars. The funds came from the government and donors.

In one instance, the petition indicates that in March, she travelled to New York for the Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). For this meeting, she was paid Shs36.8m for 17 days yet the meeting was for 13 days.

Between April 6 and April 16, she is reported to have received Shs27.2m for 12 days of a benchmarking trip in Sweden and Finland, which according to a whistleblower did not take place.

Ms Ntambi has also been accused of using her powers to direct payment of salary advances to herself. There are longstanding salary advances of Shs37.3million paid to her on March 4, 2016, and another payment of Shs40.3m she received on February 2, 2017.

There was also payment in lieu of leave equivalent to Shs13.2million. These payments, according to a whistleblower, have remained unrecovered and unaccounted for since Financial Year 2016/17 to date “due to her domineering instructions”.

Ms Ntambi was not immediately available for comment but while appearing before MPs on the Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on Monday, she begged for more time to read the petition so as to respond.

The MPs gave her two weeks to respond to all the issues in the petition.

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