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Museveni directs quick handover of maize mills to Amolatar women

By Eddie Ssejjoba

Added 25th October 2020 11:29 AM

The head of the Anti-Coruption unit, Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, said two weeks ago, the President was surprised to learn that the mills have never been operationalized.

Museveni directs quick handover of maize mills to Amolatar women

Nakalema (left), Acan and Milly Cong after a media briefing about the handover of five mills to the women of Amolatar.

The head of the Anti-Coruption unit, Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, said two weeks ago, the President was surprised to learn that the mills have never been operationalized.

President Yoweri Museveni has instructed the State House AntiCorruption Unit (SHACU) to expedite the process of handing over maize mills he donated to the women of Amolatar district ten years ago.

In 2010, the President donated five maize mills to the women of Amolatar, bought them land and also constructed blocks to house the mills as one of the strategies to help them generate revenue and improve their general welfare.

The head of the Anti-Coruption unit, Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, said two weeks ago, the President was surprised to learn that the mills have never been operationalized.

She said the women, who were supposed to be direct beneficiaries, have never owned the mills and their leaders have been blocked from accessing them.

This, she said, became a serious concern, especially after the Office of the President released money to purchase the land on which the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) engineering brigade constructed blocks and later installed the mills.

In a statement she read to the press, Nakalema said the donation was instead taken over by a private group, which she said was fronted by Caroline Amali Akako, the former state minister for planning, who was the district woman Member of Parliament at the time.

She said Akako allegedly personalised the mills and registered the project in the names of Amolatar Women in Informal Groups Organizing and Enterprising (AWIGOE), a privately registered company where she is one of the three directors.

Nakalema said the move caused a lot of discontent among the women and other leaders, but for some reason, they did not inform the State House. According to Nakalema, there are five sub-counties in Amolatar and women in each of them were supposed to get one mill.

These included Amolatar Town Council, Awelo, Namasale, Muntu and Aputi, but because the areas did not have a three-phase power connection, it was decided that the mills should be installed in the town council, each under separate management.

"The land was acquired in 2012 and the donated facility was completed in 2013, after which the mills were installed," she said, adding that the facility has never been handed to the women.

The press conference, held at the unit's boardroom, was attended by leaders from Amolatar, led by the LC5 chairperson, Simon Peter Ongwom, former resident district commissioner (RDC) Canon Richard Ogwang and his successor, Lillian Eyal, and women leaders, including Molly Amera, Judith Acan and Milly Cong.

Akao did not attend the meeting, but Nakalema said the former minister had informed her that she was sick and had been hospitalised.

In an earlier meeting on Monday, October 19, Nakalema instructed Okao to relinquish ownership of the project and submit to her office minutes of the board meeting indicating that they had lost interest in the project.

She also instructed her to write to the registrar of companies to de-register the project before it is handed back to the women.

She said the President had promised to witness the handover of the project to the beneficiaries. "The President has instructed that the mills be handed back to the women in the shortest time possible as investigations into the matter continue," she said.

Nakalema said the UPDF engineering team had been dispatched to the ground to revamp the buildings.

She said the State House comptroller, Lucy Nakyobe, had contacted the supplier of the mills to verify their status before they are handed over.

Nakalema told journalists that she was not happy that Okao was instead trying to twist the matter and turn it political, yet it had nothing to do with politics.

She also assured the women that the mills would be delivered soon and before the elections and dismissed public talk in the district that the move was intended to excite the women to vote for President Museveni and later abandon the project.

Ongwom, however, said Okao became defiant and ‘silenced' everyone who tried to pursue the matter, adding that many feared her because the President often referred to her as ‘my daughter'.

He said the project had been abandoned and people guarding it had turned it into a pig-rearing ground. Acan, who is an activist, said the women want to fully own the project and elect their own leaders to manage it.

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