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PS Bigirimana: PM Mbabazi Blocked Kazinda's Transfer

Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), has today told Parliament that it was Premier Amama Mbabazi who directed Geoffrey Kazinda to stay despite his fraudulent activities.

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Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), has today told Parliament that it was Premier Amama Mbabazi who directed Geoffrey Kazinda to stay despite his fraudulent activities.

According to Bigirimana the meeting that decided Kazinda’s stay in the OPM was instructive and his own role was limited.

Bigirimana was appearing before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) for questioning over the loss of over billions of shillings in the OPM. This follows revelations from the Auditor General John Muwanga’s special audit report indicating that billions of shillings meant for the Peace, Recovery and Development Programme (PRDP) in northern Uganda was diverted by staff at the OPM.

 

The audit established that between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012, at least 16.2billion shillings was fraudulently transferred to private accounts and subsequently swindled. Kazinda, the former Principal Accountant in the OPM and main suspect in the scam, was last month interdicted and remanded to Luzira Prisons on 28 charges of abuse of office and forgery.

Maruzi County MP Patrick Akora, who is also the lead counsel of the PAC questioned how the Principal Accountant could have been left to stay in the office instead of being fired.

Akora put it to Bigirimana that on August 8, 2012, he wrote to the auditor general indicating that Kazinda was involved in fraudulent activities and was defined as a mysterious character. He added that some files were missing which was an aspect for an audit to be undertaken. Kazinda was then given a directive to be transferred by the accountant general earlier on this year.

However, it was through Bigirimana’s intervention that the transfer was frustrated, with the permanent secretary arguing that Kazinda should be retained until he completed audit queries closing the financial year.

Kazinda was also to be reinstated as a signatory to the bank accounts and yet the OPM could have replaced him.

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But Bigirimana told PAC led by vice chairman Paul Mwiru that he requested for Kazinda’s transfer as far back as January 2011 but no action was taken.

Apart from the letter to the Accountant General Gustavo Bwoch, Bigirimana says he also made several telephone calls to Prime Minister Mbabazi. The Prime Minister then asked him why the transfer and if there was a way that accountants are transferred.

He explained that accountants are transferred at the end of the financial year because they help in answering audit queries, close books of accounts and handover to the incoming accountants.

Bwoch then replied to the letter saying they could not reverse Kazinda’s transfer and that he should go. The letter was forwarded to Kazinda asking him to leave.

Another letter was sent to the undersecretary finance and administration that the new principal accountant who had been posted should assume office. However, when he went away, Bigirimana says Kazinda maneuvered and found his way to the Prime Minister.

On his return he was summoned by Prime Minister Mbabazi to explain to him why Kazinda should be transferred. The meeting in the Prime Minister’s office involved four commissioners including Bwoch, Isaac Mpoza, the commissioner treasury services, and Commissioner Semakula among others.

In the same meeting, pleas by Bigirimana to the Prime Minister to have him get some technical staff to support his decision to transfer Kazinda fell on deaf ears as Mbabazi stated that he is the Prime Minister and gave a resounding no.

 

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Bigirimana says a month after the meeting on the March 21 2011, Bwoch wrote to Kazinda through the Permanent Secretary informing him that his transfer had been stayed until further notice and that was the conclusion of Kazinda’s matter.

Kazinda did not show up at the PAC meeting where he was scheduled to appear together with Bigirimana.

Investigations have since revealed total disregard to procedures, collusion and outright theft by several officials in the OPM, ministry of finance and Bank of Uganda.