KAMPALA – The Uganda Cooperatives Alliance – UCA has asked the public to disregard the recent media reports that deliberately painted a dark cloud hovering over the Alliance with biased statements that abuse of office, misuse of funds and corruption.
Mr. Johnas Tweyambe, Board Chairman has said that the news bulletin was from the outset misleading and the manner of reporting tended to show that this was a current matter yet throughout the entire reporting, yet the events are two years old.
“We, therefore, wish to clarify the above news bulletin which prima facie is intended to tarnish the name of Uganda Cooperative Alliance Limited,” he told the press at their offices in Kampala on Friday.
Tweyambe said that in 2017, they appointed a new General Secretary (Ivan Asiimwe) who together with the Board immediately started investigating the disappearance, fraudulent and legal sale of UCA assets.
He revealed that Asiimwe faced hostility from some members of staff and board who were implicated in such transactions.
“The said staff raised a complaint against the General Secretary regarding the conduct of his business at UCA which included forging of board resolutions and unauthorized borrowing. The Board immediately instituted a Select Committee which considered the Petition and Ivan’s defense. The Committee found that Ivan’s signature was forged on that document and even the Registrar’s stamp certifying the resolution. However, the Committee did not find Ivan of any wrongdoing.”
He said that in response to the Select Committee Report, the Board at its meeting on 18 October 2019, cleared Mr. Asiimwe of any allegation of forgery as his own signature had been forged. The board noted that it had authorized the borrowing of money indicated in the Petition.
“In addition, the 52 UCA Annual General Meeting (AGM) which is the supreme body of UCA held on 21 November 2019, absolved Mr. Ivan Asiimwe of any wrongdoing, appreciated him and the board and further tasked them to investigate UCA assets and to clear the organization of any wrongdoers.”
Tweyambe said that on 24 October 2019, the then Registrar of Cooperative Societies Mr. Joseph William Kitandwe without consulting the Board of UCA, suspended the General Secretary Asiimwe and himself (Tweyambe) and purportedly instituted another investigation against them.
“We sued the Registrar vide High Court Miscellaneous Cause No. 395 of 2019. On 14 February 2020, the High Court delivered its ruling in the above Cause and found that the suspension of the General Secretary and Board Chairman was illegal, irrational and procedurally improper.”
He said that the Court further found that;
a) That the Report of the Investigative Committee did not find Asiimwe of any wrongdoing and he was absolved of any wrongdoing
b) That the decision of the Registrar to suspend Mr. Ivan and Mr. Johnas was wrongly based on a committee report which had found them innocent of any wrongdoing
c) That the Report of the Committee did not point out Asiimwe as the wrongdoer.
“While the case was pending hearing and judgment, Mr. Jacan Oyenya Ismail (who was Vice-Chairperson Board of UCA then), Mr. Samuel Sentumbwe Magala, and Mr. Harrison Ssebuliba Kazito (who were employees then) filed HCCS No. 470 of 2019 raising the same allegations. However, up to date, they have not proceeded to have it prosecuted,” Tweyambe said.
“Having lost in Court, the aforementioned persons lodged criminal complaints against our General Secretary before all security agencies but they did not get the help they needed as the agencies determined that the matters were malicious. The alleged whistleblowers finally left UCA without officially handing over UCA Assets and instead resorted to spreading malicious propaganda to all our partners including,” he added.
He told the press that the same group working with the former Registrar/ commissioner for Cooperative Societies went ahead to register an illegal organization positioning itself to take over the roles of an apex and targeting UCA partners with the intention to divert UCA-donor funds to instead fund their newly formed cooperative.
“Due to the malicious propaganda spread against UCA, InterAction terminated the grant and sought a refund of the amount donated. Despite explanations from UCA, the donor insisted on a refund. The Board passed a resolution to have the amount refunded and duly informed the Registrar and the Minister of Cooperatives. The Minister for Cooperatives resolved that the amount refunded should not be given to scrupulous organizations to disorganize the cooperative movement in Uganda and InterAction was duly notified. The Minister’s order was to make sure that InterAction does not take the money from UCA and give it to wrong people which was the sole objective of the malicious propaganda The amount was fully refunded to InterAction and there is no complaint from them.”
“Considering that the Minister had barred InterAction from donating the money to the said persons, they instead rushed to all media houses seeking to further tarnish the name of UCA: Several Journalists sought to blackmail the General Secretary with the story and extort money from him which he refused,” he said.
Mr. Asiimwe revealed that the assets in question include among others; Double stalled house in Kansanga, five houses in Bugolobi, the stalled house at Lugogo bypass, at the plot in Lugogo, land in Mbarwa, land in Sonde, land in Namugongo, land on Nothern bypass, land in Papati, Kyagwe, and Mutuba
“The group of people who squandered the assets of UCA is the same people moving to each and every office claiming to be whistleblowers with a purpose of failing the investigations against them.”
The Board clarified that;
a) The allegations which were broadcast relate to events of 2019 which were resolved by the Board, determined by the UCA Annual General Meeting and were finally pronounced upon by the High Court
b) There is no fraudulent practices at UCA or any abuse of office and this is malicious propaganda by the said persons who are part of a larger group that is working to see the collapse of UCA
c) UCA is continuing its investigations into the illegal and fraudulent sale of its assets and all persons implicated will be prosecuted before courts of law.
d) UCA is on course to revitalize the cooperative movement and has the backing of several donors. Despite the allegations, UCA has attracted very many new donors and has embarked on several projects to assist communities. The enemies of progress are however planning to disrupt such developments but we shall not relent.
e) We consider the News Bulletin on 28 November 20121 as defamatory and we have instructed our lawyers to immediately commence court action against the Media house.
f) The general public and our good Cooperators are hereby requested to totally disregard the defamatory news bulletin and be hopeful that the cooperative movement will not be eliminated by the enemies of progress
This year, UCA celebrates 50 years of existence.