Kampala, Uganda – The Anti-Corruption Court on Tuesday this week issued criminal summons to Mrs. Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi, the chairperson of Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), to answer several corruption charges.
The accused is wanted to answer charges of conspiracy to defraud, contrary to Section 309 of the Penal Code Act.
According to the Director of Public Prosecution (DP) charge sheet, Ref: E/297/2019, dated 16th September 2020, Mrs. Ntambi is jointly charged with Moses Mugabe, a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, and Mujuni Mpitsi, the Secretary to the Commission.
Prosecution states that, “between 19th November 2018 and 30th April 2019 Mrs. Ntambi and others conspired to defraud government of Uganda a sum of Uganda Shillings Thirty-Five Million, Two Thousand (UGX35,002,000). According to the charge sheet, the money was “purportedly for undertaking an audit exercise of Rural Electrification Programme in Uganda” which activity is said to have not taken place.
Mrs. Ntambi is also involved in another conspiracy to defraud charge, involving UGX9,480,000.
Africa Tembelea understands that in this particular case, Mrs. Ntambi is jointly charged with Mujuni Mpitsi, Agnes Edith Kamahoro, a Senior Personal Secretary and Olwor Sunday Nicholas, the Commission’s Under Secretary.
“Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi between July 2018 and April 2019 at Equal Opportunities Commission offices in Kampala District, being employed in the Commission as the Chairperson, neglected her duty of directing the affairs and administration of the Commission, thereby leading to gross mismanagement of the Commission Funds,” the charge sheet read in part.
Relatedly, Africa Tembelea has also obtained a dossier [Letter] in which a whistleblower further exposes the dirt at the commission.
Here below is the letter addressed to the Chairperson and members of the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Hon. Minister I would like to thank you for taking time and your delegation to visit the Commission on 19th February 2020. We were honored as staff of Commission for the first time to have a powerful delegation headed by you.
During your visit, the staff expected to have an interaction with you without the Commission Members and the opportunity was not given.
The staff was intimidated prior to your visit by the Chairperson and the Commissioner for Equity and Rights (Bernard Mujuni) not to reveal anything. The staff here at the Commission is going through hell and the chairperson keeps on intimidating staff and influencing technical decisions.
Hon. Minister, permit me to bring to your consideration the following worries for your guidance,
- Shortage of staff at the Commission: During your visit at the Commission, you noted that most of the staff were volunteers, others were in acting capacity and the majority are on Interdiction.
- She has gone ahead to vet all the requisitions generated by the technical staff and rendered the office of the Ag, Secretary useless. This is a basis for intimidation and threatening staff on contract and possibility of losing and or cancelling their contracts. Hon. Minister there is need to separate the work of the Commission Members, the chairperson and Technical staff for smooth running of the Commission.
- Chairperson’s Dictatorship: you may be aware how all members of the Commission are intimidated by the Chairperson and all the decisions are made by her as an individual though she compels the Ag. Secretary to sign the minutes as ordered by her, she is at liberty to doctor any minutes as she so wishes.
Recently the Anti-Corruption Unit of State House cleared two officials and their interdiction was lifted. Because their contracts were ending, the chairperson overpowered other members and the decision of not renewing their contracts was taken. In addition, our workmates are continuing to suffer in court and on interdiction because of the arbitrary decision she took to invite the directorate of CID to investigate and prosecute our colleagues because of personal vendetta based on their refusal to heed to her corrupt demands.
- Staff in court: As you are aware, most of our colleagues are in court on cooked up charges and the chairperson has vowed that none of them will ever come back to work. I would like to inform you that the chairperson in her capacity was the whistleblower against the Commission staff to State House Anti-Corruption Unit.
The matter before court would have been resolved by the Commission having full time members and powers of court. The Chairperson has been charged with several criminal offences by the Anti-Corruption Unit but has never been taken to court up to today to answer to those charges. She is known to be compromising all the investigating officers.
- Roles of Members of the Commission and the Chairperson Vs Technical Staff. Minister you are aware that the Members of the Commission are full time Members. This was intended to preside/ handle complaints that are discriminative in nature. Members are supposed to carry out tribunals depending on the complaints registered across the country.
The Equal Opportunities Commission Regulations 2014 mentions the process of case handling and the roles of the members i.e. lodging a complaint, receipt of Complaint, investigations, attendance to witness, production of documents, hearing of complaint, examination of witness, perusal through evidence, taking decisions, Referral to other Courts of Law among others. Hon. Minister I want to inform you that members of the commission have neglected their roles which they were appointed for under Legal Services and Investigations Department.
They are now more involved in activities of Compliance and Enforcement where they have allocated a lot of money marginalizing other departments. Our department of legal Services and investigations has been neglected yet there is a backlog of cases/ complaints reported.
- Outdated Act. Hon. Minister I know you have read through the Equal Opportunities Act, 2007 and it’s archaic. It gives excessive powers to the members of the Commission and it’s not specific on separation of powers between Commission Members, Chairperson and Technical staff. It’s high time the Act is reviewed for the betterment of the Commission.
- Qualifications of the Chairperson. Prior to the chairperson joining the Commission, she was working as GIZ technical advisor to Equal Opportunities. The best practice requires the chairperson of the Commission to be at a level of a High Court Judge. The chairperson has never been in legal practice and she has never headed any team in any government institution. It would be prudent in the next appointments to appoint a person who has worked with government and well conversant with government operations.
- Political Contribution. Hon Minister in all the circumstances, public servants are obliged to implement the manifesto of ruling government. As earlier mentioned the Chairperson has never contributed to this government, she has instead criticized it and openly harasses all employees of the Commission hailing from western Uganda.
This is clear discrimination based on ethnicity. In any case she is killing the votes of the ruling party. Our colleagues on interdiction have influence in their villages and the situation they are in can’t favor them to support the ruling government. Currently the legal officer in People Power Pressure group by names of Lewis Robogoya was once our staff working as Legal Officer and competent Constitutional Lawyer but he was frustrated/ disgruntled and he had to resign and joined opposition.
The above issues and many others continue to exist in the Commission. We recommend for an immediate intervention to be made by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and to clean up the Commission accordingly.
Hon Minister, we hope for your immediate action This is anonymous letter from the staff of the Equal Opportunities Commission. For God and Our Country.