Uganda: NRM Officials Miss Salaries for Three Months

NRM employees, including the ruling party's secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba, have not been paid for at least three months, a senior party official has confirmed.

The NRM director for Finance, Dr Hassan Galiwango, told The Observer in an interview on Thursday that the ruling party's staff were paid their March salaries a week ago.

"We have not paid only for the months of April, May and June this year and even the SG [secretary general] herself has not been paid for those months," Galiwango said by telephone.

These revelations came in the wake of complaints by some NRM leaders in Busoga sub-region that the ruling has not paid them for up to 18 months. The officials, from Kamuli and Kaliro districts, have been secretly mobilising against Lumumba, who they accuse of sitting on their salaries.

The Observer has learnt that the anti-Lumumba mobilisation effort, which comes on the heels of recent unrest at the NRM Secretariat, was led by NRM district administrative secretaries. At the district level, an administrative secretary carries out similar party duties to those of a secretary general (SG) at national level.

BLAME GAME

Among the complainants is Sanubi Namusisi of Kamuli district. She told The Observer on July 1 that they are tired of being fooled.

"When Lumumba took over [as NRM SG] in December 2014, she told a national delegates' conference at Namboole stadium that she had been given our arrears by the party leadership but up to now we have not seen the money. She has avoided us as much as possible," she complained.

Namusisi revealed that up to 10 district NRM leaders from Busoga had discussed the matter at a secret meeting, whose resolutions they intend to present to President Museveni.

"She [Lumumba] is doing everything possible to block us from meeting the president but we shall also use all the means possible to ensure that he gets to know how much Lumumba is determined to kill our party," she said.

Asked whether they were not being used by those who don't want Lumumba in that position or by those eying it, Namusisi said they were fighting for their own rights.

"We are not after her but our money because we worked for it. And, by the way, we can't just look on as the house we have built [NRM] is being demolished by one member," she added.

However, Galiwango said the Busoga officials were taking out their anger on the wrong person. He clarified that it was only President Museveni, the party chairman and candidate in the February elections, with the mandate of appointing and paying his own agents.

"You can't blame a secretary general because she was not a candidate. She couldn't know how they were supposed to be paid," he said.

MISSING FUNDS

Just after elections, party officials discovered that billions of shillings of money meant for party activities were unaccounted for. In fact during a nine-day retreat at Kyankwanzi, it was found out that part of the money had been pocketed by unidentified NRM officials from village to national level. The money was meant for the party flag bearers, mobilisation and lunch allowances for the presidential polling day agents.

According to party sources, each polling station was supposed to have four polling agents for President Museveni and each of them had to get Shs 60,000 that very day. One supervisor per parish and one for the sub-county would get Shs 100,000 and Shs 200,000 respectively.

"Why hasn't [Lumumba] gone after the errant party members if she gave them our money? Why?" asked one party member who was an agent of candidate Museveni in Nawanyago sub-county.

During a March 2016 NRM caucus meeting, it was resolved that any party officials who stole money should be investigated and prosecuted. However, three months down the road, no action has been taken.

Although the extent of NRM expenditure during the campaigns is not known, a report by the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), a loose coalition of CSO activists, indicated that candidate Museveni spent Shs 27bn on campaigns in the two months of November and December alone. Separately, the party also spent at least Shs 10.5bn to facilitate its delegate's conference in November last year.

The Observer has established that the administrative secretaries are collecting signatures to petition the president to remove Lumumba.

"We have many reasons to support our case. Lumumba has not helped the party. We are still here [in NRM] because she [found] some of us here," Namusisi said.

The petitioners accuse the SG of not sitting in office at the secretariat, demoralisation of staff and complete lack of motivation, and causing inefficiency, redundancy and idleness.

Another administrative secretary, who requested anonymity, accused Lumumba of sidelining the party's administrators and mobilisers when it came to handling of campaign funds. He said Lumumba solely handled the money and could entrust it only with a few people of her own choice, especially friends.

"The people she assigned with money-related duties are those she was sure of defending her to the president in case there arose queries," said the official, known to be close to Lumumba. "This is the reason she can't even allow investigations into how party money was handled during campaigns."

Source: The Observer

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