"We were supposed to invite large numbers of people and talk to them. So, I directed my staff to go and pick the animals and have them slaughtered for the celebrations,” Ssempijja said.
MINISTER BULLS STOCK FARM
A senior Government Minister allegedly picked 15 bulls from Lusenke stock farm located in Kayunga district without paying for them and took them to an unknown destination Saturday Vision has established.
Vincent Ssempijja Bamulangaki the Minister in Charge of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries picked the bulls on October 23, 2019, from the Government-owned ranch managed by the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB) but did not pay, records at the ranch indicate.
The farm under focus is situated in Busana sub-county of Kayunga district in central Uganda and lies astride the River Nile.
Ssempijja who is in Karamoja battling locusts on Friday confirmed he had picked the bulls but said they were not for his personal use. "That was not stealing. There was a function I was having and everybody knew about it and it was announced over the media that the government was informing people of its achievements. We were supposed to invite large numbers of people and talk to them. So, I directed my staff to go and pick the animals and have them slaughtered for the celebrations," Ssempijja said.
Asked whether this was proper given the fact that these were breeding animals, the Minister noted that the law gave either him or the board chairperson the right to pick animals for slaughter during public functions.
"Check on all the ranches, it is not the first time I have done so. Check the records and see whether I have not been picking the animals on public functions," the minister stated. Before noting that, "hoping nobody is blackmailing me," he added.
Saturday Vision is in possession of a certificate permitting the movement of cows from Kayunga to Lukaaya signed by Dr. Ronald Kanakulya the Veterinary Officer in charge of the Rusenke ranch.
In an interview with Saturday Vision, Kanakulya confirmed the animals were loaded on a truck and taken to Lukaya but denied involvement.
"The animals were personally brought to me on foot by the farm manager one Daniel Epinyu and I was asked to check and determine whether they were healthy or not. My role was only to check them and determine whether they met the standards which they wanted. After checking them, I found them healthy and handed them over to the manager who directed they be loaded on a truck and after, I wrote to them a permit," Kanakulya said.
He referred Saturday Vision to Epinyu who noted that he was acting from a directive. "I received a call from the Minister to deliver healthy cows to a truck he was sending and picked the cows and took them for inspection. I cannot comment much on it. Ask the Executive Director," Epinyu stated.
Efforts to get a comment from Dr. Charles Lagu NAGRC&DB boss proved futile. The allegations also come in wake of claims that most of the chicken housing units in Entebbe were now vacant after Kuroilers that had been imported from abroad for breeding purposes were shared by top ministry officials.
In 1999, the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister without Portfolio, Kirunda Kivejinja, resigned as minister of Transport and Communications after Parliament embarked on a process to censure him for abuse of office.
Kivejinja had allegedly diverted 2,000 litres of fuel from Uganda Railways Corporation to an NRM supporter to help him in his re-election.
After his resignation, Kivejinja continued working as Director of External Relations at the Movement Secretariat until June 2003 when he bounced back as Minister in charge of the Presidency.
Following the Animal Breeding Act, 2001 and the establishment of NAGRC & DB, it was imperative that the agency acquires the capacity to spearhead livestock breeding activities in the country.
It is in this vein that 4,480 acres (7 square miles) formerly under the jurisdiction of the now-defunct Uganda Beef Company were transferred to NAGRC & DB to make present-day Lusenke stock farm as evidenced by the communication reference number MOS/AI/11 dated June 05, 2007.