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Court Quashes PPDA Report Incriminating Former OPM PS on Covid-19 Food Relief :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Court Quashes PPDA Report Incriminating Former OPM PS on Covid-19 Food Relief

According to Guwatudde, the PPDA exhibited bias against her by failing to take into the government urgency for procurement and distribution of Covid-19 relief food ideas which procurement process was started by the Commissioner, Disaster and Preparedness Management on the April 1st, 2020, and commenced distribution of Covid relief food items on April 4th, 2020.
12 Mar 2022 11:13
Guwatudde on the left with her lawyer after court at Kololo
The High Court has quashed the report by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority -PPDA incriminating the former Permanent Secretary in the office of Prime Minister, Christine Guwatudde Kintu of flouting procedures when awarding tenders to supply Covid-19 food relief to the vulnerable poor in 2020.

The report was quashed by the High Court Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana on grounds that Guwatudde was never given a right to a fair hearing.

Following the outbreak of COVID -19 in 2020, President Yoweri Museveni directed the Office of the Prime Minister to purchase food for the most vulnerable Ugandans in Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, and Mbale districts who were affected by the two-week nationwide lockdown. 

Between March 31 2020 and April 9, 2020, Guwatudde reportedly issued an award letter to various companies to supply maize, beans, milk, and sugar amounting to 32.340 billion Shillings in total disregard of the procurement procedure. She reportedly inflated the prices of the above commodities.  

As a result, the PPDA on April 13, 2020, made a procurement Audit report on the emergency procurement and amended the same on June 5, 2020, and found that Guwatudde had initiated the process to procure food for the distribution to the vulnerable poor prior to the approval by the accounting office. 

She was further implicated for preparing and issuing false entries in the award of letters to several companies to supply Covid19 relief items purporting that the same entry was allocated by the OPM contracts committee whereas not.

Consequently, the  PPDA report recommended that she should be held responsible for flouting the PPDA procurement procedures during the emergency procurements of Covid- 19 relief food items.  

However, Guwatudde through her lawyers Tom Magezi and Aretha Uwera petitioned the High Court seeking several orders including stopping the implementation of the Audit report saying it was illegal because she was not accorded a right to a fair hearing.  

Guwatudde argued that she only became aware of the audit report when it was disclosed by the Director of Public Prosecution at Anti-Corruption Court on August 27 2020 when she was being prosecuted in connection to the recommendations of the said report.

According to Guwatudde, the PPDA exhibited bias against her by failing to take into the government urgency for procurement and distribution of Covid-19 relief food ideas which procurement process was started by the Commissioner, Disaster and Preparedness Management on the April 1st, 2020, and commenced distribution of Covid relief food items on April 4th, 2020. 

During the hearing, the PPDA through their lawyers led by Sheila Abaamu asked Court to dismiss Guwatudde’s petition on grounds that the reports dated April 13th, 2020, and June 5th, 2020 were issued to the Criminal Investigations Directorate which had sought their opinion in order to facilitate its investigations so as to make an independent decision.  

In his judgment dated March 11, 2022, Justice Ssekaana says the action by the PPDA was illegal because she was not given a right to be heard.  Ssekaana argued that it would have been right if PPDA accorded Guwatudde a hearing to determine the allegations that had been made in respect of the emergency food relief before making any recommendations in its report faulting her.

“It can be seen and deduced from the above statements that the respondent did not summon, seek or hear the applicant’s explanation or defense in the process of making any findings and/ or recommendations on the procurement of the emergency food relief before holding her responsible for flouting procedures”, said Ssekaana.

He added that the failure by the PPDA to summon Guwatudde and any other officers that were concerned with its investigations was an illegality PPDA Act and thereby an error of law in the decision-making process.  

 Justice Ssekaana quashed the PPDA report and issued an order restraining PPDA or any other person or institution from implementing it.  

The Judge also ordered PPDA to pay costs to Guwatudde. 

The decision to quash the PPDA report has come almost six months after the Director of Public Prosecution dropped criminal charges against Guwatudde and three other officials from OPM who were accused of inflating prices of food meant for the vulnerable poor during that nationwide lockdown due to covid-19.

The others whose charges were dropped included the Head of the Procurement Unit Fred Lutimba Kyeyune, Under Secretary Joel Wanjala and Martin Owor, the Commissioner in charge of Relief and Disaster Preparedness and Head of the COVID-19 relief management.

In July 2021, President Museveni retired Guwatudde and six other Permanent Secretaries in public interest.