Why did hundreds of employees of National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) between January 2017 and June 2020 deposit over 650 million shillings on an account in Centenary Bank belonging to Bamugisha Community Welfare Limited whose beneficiaries are the NWSC Managing Director, Dr Eng Silver Mugisha, and his wife, Annet Mugisha Musoga, who is now known as Annet Katusiime Mugisha?
Why did NWSC procure two hotels; one in eastern Uganda and the other in Bushenyi, western Uganda? We also want to know why cell phone lines belonging or linked to Dr Mugisha were used to send 800 million shillings via mobile money to hundreds of beneficiaries. What was the purpose of the money? Why were employees of National Water forced each to procure a book allegedly authored by Dr Mugisha at a cost of 40,000/= to 50,000/= a copy? Why are some individuals allegedly working with NWSC paid by voucher and are not on payroll yet they are paid highly?
These are questions this media outlet cannot answer without state authorities taking keen interest in the corruption that has eaten NWSC. However, we can attempt to throw more light on what is transpiring in National Water.
A bank statement of Bamugisha Community Welfare Limited (BCWL) seen by this media outlet shows that from January 1, 2017 and June 23, 2020 over 150 employees ranging from senior managers to regular staff of NWSC deposited millions of shillings on the organization’s account. Suppliers also made huge deposits.
To highlight some of the huge deposits; on December 21, 2017, Muleme Richard, a supplier, deposited 10million shillings on the BCWL bank account. The supplier again deposited over 19m on February 5, 2018 on the same account.
On December 19, 2017, another supplier, Alitu Quality ltd deposited 15m. On February 2, 2018, Juuko Jamil, recorded a staff of NWSC deposited 20million. He again deposited another 10 million on February 14, 2018 and 15m on June 21, 2018. The same Juuko deposited 50 million on the same bank account on December 19, 2018 and on January 31, 2019, he deposited more 50m. Then on February 13, 2019, Juuko deposited 30m. Juuko’s transactions indicate a lot of suspicion as to the purpose of the deposits and source of the money considering that he is listed as an employee of NWSC, who was banking on an account belonging to an NGO managed by a wife of the chief executive of NWSC.
Another interesting case is VAMBECO ltd which was contracted by National Water to construct Kapeeka Water Project, deposited 10 million shillings on a bank account of Bamugisha Community Welfare Limited that is owned by Dr Mugisha and his wife on August 7, 2018.
Other suppliers that have made deposits to BCWL include 2ML that deposited 15m on July 17, 2018; John M Welfare, an NGO according bank records, deposited 40m on August 8, 2018 and V. Kal that deposited 30m on November 26, 2018. Another NGO, Wanyange Youth Group deposited 10m on October 7, 2019.
NWSC staff recorded by the bank to have made big money deposits include; Alinda Jessica, a Finance Manager, who deposited 25m on March 30, 2019, Sheila, who deposited 50m on November 15, 2018; Paul M. deposited 20m on April 10, 2019 and Joshua deposited 20m on October 12, 2018 and deposited another 35m on November 7, 2018.
Other NWSC staff are; Donald, who deposited 40m on August 25, 2018; Justine deposited 20m on September 7, 2018; Ibrah deposited 10m on February 14, 2018; Muhwezi William deposited 10m on March 2, 2018 and then Sarah Nabaasa deposited 18,325,000/= on November 16, 2019 and four days later on November 20th she deposited exactly the same amount 18,325,00/= again. Also Aketch Agnes, General Manager Mbale deposited 20m on October 7, 2019
Most of branch managers in all districts across Uganda deposited between 500,000/= to two million. For instance, Ekanya Emmanuel, General Manager Mbarara deposited two million on July 25, 2018; Mugenyi Joseph, Area Manager Masaka deposited a million on July 26, 2018; Ampeire Brain, Area Manger-Kasese deposited a million on July 30, 2018; Aketch Agnes, General Manager-Mbale deposited a million on August 1, 2018; Abbey Serunkuma, Area Manager-Rushere deposited 500,000/= on August 2, 2018; Walusimbi Ibrahim, Area Manager-Lira deposited a million on July 17, 2018 and Muramuzi Denis, Area Manager-Fort Portal deposited a million on July 5, 2018.
Other managers are; Gang Stephen, Area Manager-Gulu, who deposited a million on July 11, 2018; Mason Andrew, Area Manager-Soroti deposited a million on July 14, 2018; Jackson Turyahirira, General Manager-Entebbe deposited two million on July 14, 2018 and another one million on September 26, 2019; Okounzi Charles, General Manager-Jinja deposited two million on July 14, 2018; Etonu Denis, Area Manager-Nebbi deposited 500,000/= on July 18, 2018; Bitwire Ronal, Area Manager-Kanungu deposited 600,000/= on July 19, 2018 and another one million on September 27, 2019; Tabu Lambert, Area Manager-Ruhama deposited 500,000/= on November 27, 2019 and Alokit Anna Racheal, Area Manager-Masindi deposited a million on November 15, 2019.
Senior managers include; Luyinda William, Senior Manager-Inventory deposited a million on August 8, 2018; Alany Eunice, Senior Manager Human Resources deposited a million on September 19, 2019; Byaruhanga Nable, Senior Manager-Procurement deposited a million on August 9, 2018; Tweteise Doreen, Personal Assistant to the MD deposited two million on July 11, 2018 and Arinaitwe Apollo, Manager-commercial deposited 500,000/= on November 30, 2019.
These transactions which total to slightly more than 655m are all suspicious. Sources reveal that to understand why these staff deposit money on the Bamugisha NGO bank account one would have to first understand the science in the billing mechanism. It is suspected that billing on water meters is inflated. In 2018, National Water thrice effected tariff increases in water bills. However, in an earlier interview the NWSC Managing Director told this online newspaper that he usually fundraises for his NGO.
“I usually appeal to anybody to help so that we can also help the communities,” Dr Eng. Mugisha said.
The NWSC Public Relations Officer, Samuel Apedel, also feigned ignorance about the deposits made by the organization’s staff. “I am not aware of those deposits. I cannot speak for that company. I speak for NWSC as an institution. If there are employees who have contributed money I don’t know. But you already have a comment from the owner (Dr Mugisha) of the company (Bamugisha Community Welfare ltd). He told you they fundraise and receive donations from friends. Please, don’t involve me in those issues,” the spokesman said in a phone interview on September 14, 2020.
In an earlier news article about his likely sacking, Dr Mugisha denied ever misappropriating the Corporation’s resources. “I am an engineer and I don’t touch NWSC money. You can’t catch me on accountability,” Mugisha told this news outlet in a phone interview on Thursday September 10.
Persistent attempts to reach the Managing Director’s wife Katusiime via her known phone contact by this online newspaper to explain why NWSC were depositing huge sums of money on her organization’s account were fruitless.
But to understand why employees of National Water have been depositing theses millions we should look into a whistle-blower’s complaint submitted to the State House Anti –Corruption Unit headed by Lt Col. Edith Nakalema.
The water corporation chief executive has been accused of using his office to finance and raise support for his wife’s political campaigns to secure a parliamentary seat. Actually his wife, Annet Katusiime Mugisha, trounced Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister for General Duties in Prime Minister’s Office, in the ruling NRM party primaries for Bushenyi woman Member of Parliament. She will again contest in the 2021 general elections representing NRM.
The written complaint states that: “…there is extortion of money from National Water and Sewerage Corporation staff to support activities of Ba Mugisha Community Development Foundation, a vehicle used for promoting Annet Katusiime Mugisha’s candidature in Bushenyi.”
“There is extortion of kickbacks from service providers and this is done by Dr. Silver Mugisha through his wife’s shadowy organization known as Ba Mugisha Community Development Foundation (BCWL). A thorough investigation should be carried out on his procurement dealings with among others VAMBECO, SOGEA SATOM and others,” the whistler-blower further states in a letter written on April 11, 2019 and received four days later on April 15th.
In the letter, the whistle blower also points out an irregular recruitment of 18 persons into the ranks of NWSC. Some of them are; Kahiji Paul, the FDC chairman for Bushenyi District, Turibamwe John, the regional security in Mbarara; Murani Sarah (Kabale), Elineo Mwine Yeremiya (Bushenyi), Musafiri Gerald (Buhweju), Kabazeyo Lilian (Kabushaho water office); Bashasha Edrine and Jafari Basajabalaba’s unnamed son and daughter.
“It should be noted that the majority of these employees are initially recruited as graduate trainees to circumvent recruitment procedures,” the whistle complains. The whistle blower also accuses Kateebe Francis, a regional manager stationed in Bushenyi, for misappropriating 15m and blamed the embezzlement on his junior staff including Rwakitooke Allan, Sylvia and Stephen, who were instead transferred.
However, Mugisha boasts that the Inspector General of Government has investigated National Water six times and didn’t find any incriminating evidence to support all the allegations against the Corporation.
But recently, intelligence has taken keen interest in some procurement transactions by National Water. Intelligence has since established that the Corporation dubiously procured two hotels; one in eastern Uganda and another in western Uganda, which allegation has been denied by NWSC officials.
“I am not aware that NWSC has bought any hotels. Maybe it is individuals. But what I know is that we intend to establish training centers in Lira (eastern Uganda) and either Mbarara or Bushenyi (western Uganda) to equip our plumbers,” the NWSC Public Relations Officer, Samuel Apedel, told this writer.
But after he crosschecked with the procurement department, Apedel corrected his response confirming that actually NWSC had procured a hotel in Bushenyi at a cost of 5.2bn through open bidding. He also said in Lira, they intend to improve Kachum water treatment facility into a training facility.
“In Bushenyi, we wanted a facility that has space for meetings, conference hall and modest accommodation. In Lira, we are converting the treatment plant. We advertised the procurement for a contractor to handle the work and the deadline is October 26, 2020,” he clarified.
Sources though claim that NWSC procured Crane Resort Hotel from Tumusiime John Bosco in Ishaka, Bushenyi. Sources claim the hotel is valued at three billion shillings though.
But one wonders why an established Corporation like NWSC would procure a hotel in Bushenyi yet they already have a huge piece of land in Nyaruzinga in the same locality where they could have constructed a modern training facility at less the money they used to buy the hotel.
There are also allegations that some people who are not NWSC staff are paid salaries by vouchers. They are; Tenya Adrisa, Kagisha Erinal, Mushanga Parish and Byambagambe John, who are paid seven million per month. Are these payments meant to avoid external audit.
The NWSC spokesman said that all their employees are paid by an existing payroll unless those on urgent assignment to the field.
Further, investigations by this media outlet indicate that Dr Mugisha’s cell phone line has been used to send money via the mobile money platform close to 800 million shillings to certain beneficiaries. What was the purpose of this money? Could it have boosted his wife’s campaigns?
In addition, in an interview with a former NWSC staff, it has been established that employees were being coerced to procure a book authored by Dr Mugisha at a cost of 40,000 to 50,000/= per copy.
Despite being acknowledged as a chief executive of international standing Dr Mugisha has failed to live upto professional management etiquette. He is always suspicious of co-workers, which has caused friction in management. For instance, in 2015 he accused a fellow manager of being a mole for President Museveni.
“In several meetings and private discussions with some people who have told me, MD has acused me of ferrying documents to state house. In November 2015, while at work, around 3pm, the MD invited me in his office and upon my arrival, I found him alone. He immediately asked me why I was working behind his back. He told me that he had got information from special forces command officers….that I had asked the president for the job of managing director at NWSC,” Richard Bigirwa Muhangi, the then Senior Manager-western zone, formally complained to the Director of Human Resource on January 7, 2019. This matter is said to have attracted animosity within management until the Board intervened. Muhangi was later transferred to head north and east Uganda.
As debate goes on about the endemic corruption that has crippled NWSC observers and analysts suggest that the organization needs a total overhaul with new management in charge as has been done with UNRA, URA, KCCA etc. Going by what intelligence sources have revealed it is likely that the President will appoint a new chief executive to enforce a cleanup exercise.