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FDC rocked by corruption scandal, cover up

Winnie Kiiza 'diverted FDC legislators monthly contributions but party looked the other way'

SPOTLIGHT | Allegations of corruption have rocked the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) with some party stalwarts accusing Winfred Kiiza of diverting contributions from legislators and that the party chose to look the other way, apparently, to avoid furore at a time it was facing intense public scrutiny.

In what appears to be a major point of divergence among top FDC officials, Crime24 understands that the Kasese Woman MP also used contributions from FDC legislators to secure a loan from Parliament Sacco without the approval of the party.

Kiiza on Saturday told Crime24 that she indeed borrowed Shs100 million from Parliament Sacco but that the money was not for her personal use but to facilitate internal mechanisms of the party

“There is no problem with that since members as individuals or a group and FDC as a party has a right to  borrow,” Kiiza said.

But stalwarts at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi claim that Kiiza did not consult before staking the party contributions as collateral and that, in borrowing on behalf of the party, she had usurped the powers of the secretary general.

Attempts to get FDC Secretary General Nathan Nandala-Mafabi to clarify on the position were futile as he could not pick our repeated calls and did not reply to text messages sent to his mobile telephone.

However, sources have intimated to this news website in confidence that the party hierarchy in Najjanankumbi was aware of the alleged embezzlement, demanded accountability and when they got none, decided to not pursue the matter any further.

“Winnie [Kiiza] diverted Shs72 million of members contribution to Kasese office instead of sending it to the party headquarters,” a source in the Opposition party told Crime24.

“When she was asked, she said she had mistakenly deposited the money on the FDC Kasese account. The party then asked Saulo Matte, FDC chairman for Kasese District, but he had no idea about the money and that it had never reached the account.”

The source claimed that there was an agreement with Kasese leadership not make the issue public.

FDC has been in a spot of bother, almost to the point of jittery, of recent, says Crime24 senior political analyst Jacobs Odongo Seaman.

“There is the issue of loyalty to the party and there are divisions created by political contests where opposition have not been united, like in Bugiri Municipality. These issues have been worsened by the recent reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet that was not taken well by some party members,” Odongo said.

“With the party unsure of the movement of some of the members in light of thickening rumours that some group from within could break away to form a new political organisation, it appears FDC is being cautious in its handling of party members so that it does not look like the party is pushing them out.”

For instance, when contacted to clarify on the matter, FDC chief administrative officer Fred Mutibwa confirmed the accountability issue but downplayed it as “a party internal matter that they were addressing with every party involved.”

The spongy manner of addressing the accountability issue turned more bizarre when treasurer Godfrey Ekenya was contacted and he denied there were any such issues.

“FDC members have been contributing 100% and they love the party very much. Even the few who had not contributed fully have since cleared,” Ekanya said. “Winnie Kiiza got approval of the party before acquiring that loan and it has since been fully repaid.”

Tracing the issue

Kiiza is said to have diverted the members contributions while she was still the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, a position she lost last week after FDC president Patrick Oboi Amuriat reshuffled the minority leadership in Parliament.

Kiiza was replaced with Gulu district woman MP Betty Aol Ochan. Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, the Cosase chairperson, was replaced with Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa.

Public Accounts Committee chairperson Angelline Osegge, the Soroti Woman MP, was replaced with for committee boss and FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi.

While explaining the reshuffle in light of the hubbub it had caused, Amuriat said: “These changes were informed by a number of factors like loyalty, financial contribution; other details underground are not for public consumption.”

Crime24 can now reveal that among the issues that Amuriat said were not for public consumption is the issue of accountability of party funds.

As parts of wider efforts to fund party activities, FDC legislators are required to contribute Shs450,000 per month to the party treasury. Shadow leaders contribute Shs500,000 monthly.

This website understands that while still LoP, Kiiza asked that the contribution be effected by way of deductions from salaries to reduce instances of members defaulting.

Since FDC has no official business with Parliament except on the political engagements, the LoP had to take charge of the contributions and remit to the party accounts after the deductions. Before Parliament can deduct, a member signs commitment authorising the deductions from their salary.

“Even recently during municipal elections, Kiiza collected money for FDC candidates but I was told that some of them [the candidates] didn’t receive money from her,” said a source, who claimed that Kiiza had used FDC legislator’s contribution as collateral to acquire a loan from Parliament Sacco on behalf the party.

“FDC chose not to embarrass her. I was one of those that thought FDC should have protested in writing so that there is a record of her behaviour. If someone has accountability issues, protest it on record,” a party official, who preferred not to be named because their position, said.

The claim of using members contribution as collateral was corroborated by Agago Woman MP Judith Akello, but as for the intended use, Eunice Namatende, who contested and lost the Bugiri Municipality MP seat to Jeema’s Asuman Basalirwa, said she she had received some money from Kiiza.

While Parliament Sacco manager Methods Mureebe would not comment on the transaction since it is a private matter, a source at Parliament who is familiar with the Sacco affair told this website in confidence that Kiiza had used the MPs’ remittances as security so the Sacco was recouping Shs10m in monthly installments from the Shs15m remittances.

‘Not aware of money being diverted’

Several FDC officials this website talked confirmed the accountability quagmire during Kiiza’s tenure.

“All FDC MPs make monthly remittances to the party. I personally remit Shs400,000 to the party and I have remitted up to July,” MP Akello said, adding that she was not aware that the MPs’ remittances have not reached the party headquarters for the last seven months.

Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, who was dropped from committee leadership in the much-talked about FDC reshuffle, said he remits Shs500,000 to the FDC headquarters to help run party activities.

He said the Shs100 million the former LoP borrowed from the Parliament Sacco was meant to fund municipal by-elections across the country. He, however, said he was not aware of the claims that the monthly remittances have not reached the party headquarters for the last couple of months.

FDC official speaks out

FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda could not be reached on his known telephone contacts.FDC president Patrick Amuriat would not delve into the detail of his statement on the reshuffle that dropped Kiiza from LoP position last week but had said during appearance on NBS television that some of the decisions that compelled the changes were not for public consumption.

Crime24 repeatedly contacted Amuriat on his known contacts to comment on the allegations that the party had swept an accountability issue under the carpet but after promising to call back, he could not be reached later and was yet to respond to texts this news website sent him.

FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda could not be reached on his known telephone contacts.

With Parliament recouping Shs10 million for the loan every month, FDC could only receive Shs5 million per month. The problem for the party, though, is that the situation took a nosedive in December last year when they wouldn’t receive anything.

This prompted the party to write to Kiiza in May demanding explanations on why the money was not being remitted. Kiiza reportedly told the party that she had sent the money to Kasese FDC account by mistake and that she was working around the clock to rectify the problem.

But when days turned to weeks and weeks to months, the party decided that they would not sit and watch the months turn into years. They contacted Saulo Matte, the Kasese FDC chairman, who denied the district office had received any such monies.

Matte reportedly told the headquarters that Kasese office had last received Shs1.3 million at the time Gen Muntu and Amuriat were tussling it out for the party presidency. The elections were late last year.

Kiiza Saturday wondered why the issue of members contribution and remittances was being brought up since she had already been dropped as LoP, adding that the reshuffle was normal changes.

Asked where members contributions have ended up over the last seven months since FDC headquarters alleges the money has not been remitted, she said she was not the accounting officer of the party so she wouldn’t delve into the detail.

“All that you should know is that the money is used to facilitate the party internal mechanism,” she said and cited another loan that was borrowed to purchase FDC headquarters in Najjanakumbi, saying this justified that taking loans for the good of the party was a normal decision for a leader.

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