BUSHENYI – Woes surrounding Ruharo Heifer project SACCO continue to deepen as residents of Ruharo ward, central division in Bushenyi- Ishaka municipality petitioned the Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit Lt.Col.Edith Nakalema, over the looming collapse of their SACCO due to alleged abuse and misuse of the SACCO’s funds.
Sources at the SACCO privy to this information have revealed to us that a section of members on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, led by Alozio Nshemerirwe took their documents to the office of State House Anti- Corruption Unit in Kampala and met with Nakalema but did not divulge the details of the discussion.
They accuse the top management of failure to devise means on how to protect the members’ savings as it faces collapse.
These issues came to the limelight in November 2019 when members went to withdraw their savings to prepare themselves for Christmas but to their dismay, were told that SACCO has no single coin
It should be noted that Ruharo Heifer project SACCO has been one of the model projects that were started by President Museveni in Bushenyi District after identifying Ruharo parish then as his model village 2003.
In the same year, Museveni launched the SACCO with UGX.140 million as start-up capital to avail banking services to the largely agricultural community of Ruharo.
Having stood the test of time, the President in 2013, again boosted the SACCO with another UGX.100 million, later adding UGX.20million, to grow its turnover to over UGX.400 million including members’ savings.
Despite the huge presidential support and huge members’ savings, SACCO’s members were last year shocked to learn that they could not access their savings arguing that there is no money.
In fact, last Christmas none of the members withdrew money as management revealed that the SACCO had only UGX.178, 000only on its account.
The SACCO’s board chairman Fred Mugisha attributed the poor state of the SACCO to members’ failure to repay their loan commitments, saying that as the SACCO they have been unable to compel the defaulters to honor their loan commitments.
According to the SACCO’s list of defaulters seen by PML Daily, there over 80 members with outstanding loans from the SACCO, amounting to UGX.128 million in total.
Among the high-profile defaulters include the Bushenyi District LCV Chairperson Jafar Bassajjabalaba and the District Engineer Kiiza Banabas, Bonimpa with outstanding loans of UGX.2,810,000 and UGX.3,093,800 respectively.
Having failed to secure their savings, SACCO members first appealed to their area Member of Parliament Gordon Arinda, who met members last week to devise means on how they can recover the money among which was to demand a forensic audit and compel defaulters to pay. He also promised to address the same matters to the president seeking his intervention.
Steven Karuti, the LCIII chairperson central division blamed the SACCO’s woes to the SACCO management and board, accusing them of failing to hold a single meeting with members to address the now festered challenges in the SACCO when the issues emerged last.
Leticia Nshemerirwe one of the members of the SACCO and resident of Kikuba village in Ruharo ward said what annoys them is that ever since the issues started making rounds, the board has never summoned any meeting with members to address the matter and how far they have gone.
She noted that in their villages they have their women savings groups called “Obubokisi” and in the whole ward they have over 20 groups (Obubokisi) that have been depositing their savings to the SACCO.
“Even the money we deposited in October when we went to withdraw in November, we were told the SACCO has no money, we spent the whole Christmas with no money up to now we don’t know what is going on” Said Nshemerirwe.
In 2017, the then manager Auleliano Byarugaba also a resident of Ruharo ward was arrested after a forensic audit was made and found out that over UGX.170m went missing from the SACCO but was later released on bail after Mp Arinda Gordon stood him security in the Ant- corruption court in Kampala.
Members say that up to now they don’t know what happened to the case file and money was never recovered from Byarugaba. Arinda in collaboration with the RDC has asked the District Commercial Officer to initiate a forensic audit of the SACCO to guide the investigations.