December 7, 2021

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Minister Onek to resign over Nabbanja

Minister Hillary Onek

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Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugees minister, Hillary Onek, has threatened to resign saying Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has usurped his role.

This is contained in a letter dated October 29, 2021 and copied to President Yoweri Museveni, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah, Deputy Speaker Anita Among, and minister of state for Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugees Esther Davinia Anyakun.

“From the time of your appointment, I have been observing with total displeasure the fact that my role and that of my deputy as the Ministers in charge of refugees and disaster and the lead policymakers on the matters of refugee and disaster management have been TOTALLY usurped by your office,” reads Onek’s letter quoted by media.

According to Onek, Nabbanja has been conducting frequent visits to disaster-affected places and delivering relief items herself which should be his work.

He further accuses her of halting the settlement of refugees in Kyangwali over a land ownership dispute without involving the department of refugees.

He also disagreed with Nabbanja’s decision to divert Shs5bn from the Shs15bn allocated to his docket as a contingency budget.

Here is Onek’s letter:

From the time of your appointment, I have been observing with total displeasure the fact that my role and that of my deputy as the Ministers in charge of refugees and disaster and the lead policymakers on the matters of refugee and disaster management have been TOTALLY usurped by your office.

This is quite evident by the way you have been calling for meetings, going to disaster-affected places and visiting refugee settlements without informing either my office or that of my deputy. To my shock, my staff who I supervise are the ones being called for meetings and not the line ministers.

On 29th October 2021, you called for a meeting with the local leadership of Bududa without involving my office or even the area members of parliament which may lead to decisions being made that contradicts earlier and official cabinet position.

You have also purged the department of disaster management, taken over the distribution of relief items and causing interdiction of staff members without proper investigation. The interdicted staff were accused of causing financial loss without conducting a forensic audit by involving the auditor general. On 5th October, you wrote to my office halting the settlement of refugees in Kyangwali over land ownership dispute, this decision was arrived at without involving either me or my deputy or any technical staff from the department of refugees.

There are several reports about the land in Kyangwali like the report by the late Gen. Julius Oketta that dates as far back as 2014, the Nakalema report and other reports from ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development that should have helped guide your decision. Undercutting the ministry of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees and directly working with local government officials will lead to further contradictions and confusion.

I have worked with the previous three Prime Ministers and all along, I know that the constitutional role is to coordinate legislative agenda and lead government business in parliament and monitor all ministries and government programs. They never got involved in micro-management of other ministries. If you decide to micromanage other ministries, what then is the role of the sector ministers who are supposed to plan, make policies and deliver on the manifesto of H.E the president.

Rt. Hon Prime minister, if you have decided to carry on working like this and rendering my docket irrelevant, kindly put it in writing to H.E the president who is the appointing authority and I will relieve myself of my responsibilities and allow you carry on with your duties. I will NOT be held accountable for decisions that have been taken without my input.

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