National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has finally spoken on an alleged contract scandal reported at the authority.
For weeks now, a report has been circulated on social media platforms especially Facebook and WhatsApp alleging that NEMA board extended the contract of Dr. Gerald Musoke Sawula, the deputy Executive Director.
The report said Dr Sahura had a contract extension even after he had “hit the mandatory retirement age as per Uganda Public Service Standing Orders”.
“Sawula who made 65 years sometime in February, went carrying brown envelopes to all NEMA board members with the help of the Executive Director, Dr. Okurut Tom,” said the report.
The author described Sawula and Okurut as “biological twins when it comes to soliciting for bribes from industrialists and selling wetlands in Uganda”.
“It is not yet clear where the NEMA board borrowed mandate to extend Sahura’s contract but on whatever interpretation, the action completely is intended to misguide the Honourable Minister Ephraim Kamuntu and will automatically attract legal battles to the already highly mismanaged authority,” the anonymous author further alleged.
The report alleges that NEMA which was formed by act of parliament as an autonomous body mandated to be the watch dog of all activities on environment is now becoming “a bribery exchange point”.
That after the retirement of Dr. Aryamaya, Sawula “strengthened his mafia click by placing his nephews in the wetlands section” upon which Lake Victoria allegedly “suffered the worst environmental crimes in history”.
The author cited the Kinawataka, Nakivubo wetlands saying they have been compromised.
Sahura’s alleged contract extension
The report claims that Sawula, after learning of his mandatory retirement time, “connived with the Human Resource department and the executive director and the trio started courting the board members whose chairperson Prof. J.H. Nyeko Pen –Mogi has largely acted as a walking stick for Dr. Tom Okurut”.
“The two Executives started by baiting the board members with extraordinary allowances and increasing the members share in the National Environment Fund which is contributed to through indirect taxes and EIA fees.”
The anonymous author ended by recommending Parliament and court action against NEMA, NEMA board and specific individuals who were allegedly compromised to fault Public Service standing Orders.
After studying the report for quite some time, The Insider decided to crosscheck with the accused authority to get their version of the story.
After many attempts, we managed to get NEMA spokesperson, Naome Karekaho.
Naome told us that she was not aware of the purported contract extension.
“We don’t know. Personally, I have not received any communication on the matter,” she said.
She said there was no way she could give us a comment on something that had not been formally communicated to her.
Dr Sawula denies the allegations, reports case to police
When we talked to him on phone, Dr Sawula told us that he has seen the report but rubbished it as false.
“Everything is not true. I don’t know the person doing it,” he said.
He observed that as people who work for the government, it is a norm for hooligans to pick up on them in a bid to taint their reputations.
He said they (NEMA) had already reported a case of cyber-crime to police.
“The report was intended to malign institution and spread hatred.”
He said they at first ignored the report but decided later to bring in police and get to the bottom of it.
He added: “If you tell lies, they will catch up with you.” “If you hate me or don’t like me, you don’t have to use social media to malign people.”
Police told him that they had received similar complaints before and would follow up on the matter.
Sahura said he had a five-year contract with the authority which will end next year.
“I will renew it necessary.”
MPs dissatisfied with NEMA’s performance
In January 2015, MPs on the Parliamentary Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) accused NEMA of failing to stop the continued degradation of major wetlands in the country.
Ibrahim Ssemuju, the Cosase committee chairperson, put NEMA among the worst performing government entities “because people are degrading wetlands and excavating everywhere with the support of NEMA”.
The MPs cited wetlands in Kinawataka, Banda, Kanyanya and Lwera in Lukaya that are being destroyed as NEMA looks on.
Dr Sawula explained that the current status of the demarcation and management of wetlands is due to the administrative decision that was taken by the Ministry of Water and Environment.
According to Daily Monitor, the committee while handling NEMA’s Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2011/2012 and 2012/2013, revealed that one company where the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire is director, is being accused of renting NEMA premises and disappearing without paying rent amounting to Shs15m.