Uganda legislators probe theft of 30,000 government goats

Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture officials will this week face Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee in connection with the alleged theft of more than 30,000 government goats. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Ugandan agriculture ministry officials will this week face a parliamentary probe team in connection with the alleged theft of more than 30,000 government goats under a $3.6 million poverty reduction programme instituted by President Yoweri Museveni.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry was prompted by a story published by the independent Daily Monitor in April 2011, reporting on findings from the Auditor General’s report for the year 2009/10 which indicated that 3,023 goats stayed at the farm in Sembabule District for five years but their offspring disappeared through unclear circumstances.

"We want to know whether these goats were on family planning,” PAC Chairman Kassiano Wadri said. Information before PAC indicates that an adult goat delivers twice within 13 months with high twining ratio.

The first batch of 3,023 goats the government procured in 2004/05 stayed at the farm and should have delivered at least 30,230 offspring in five years. However, there was no accountability for any of these offspring produced in the five-year period.

Investigation call

Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, who represents the would-be benefitting farmers, told the Daily Monitor that the company contracted to procure the goats on behalf of the government — Sembeguya Estates Ltd should also be investigated. Ministry officials are expected in PAC on Tuesday.

When asked to explain what happened to the goats, Agriculture minister Tress Bucyanayandi, said he was also taken by surprise (when he heard the story of missing goats).

“I did not know about it (the missing goats). Let me first investigate this matter, I have to ask the Permanent Secretary to tell me what happened and the people who were involved in the project,” Mr Bucyanayandi said.

The goats were meant for the implementation of a pilot breeding project for strategic export under President Museveni’s poverty reduction programme in Sembabule District meant to benefit more than 100 farmers.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Sembeguya Estates Ltd, a private firm to supply the goats to particular farmers.

Under the deal, the estate was required to supply 150 male and 200 female exotic breed goats using its own funds and 54,000 improved Mubende goats using government funding. But the Auditor General found out that some goats were not supplied.

The Presidential Goats Project received more than $3.3 million from government in the financial year 2004/2005 for infrastructure development and purchase of the first lot of goats.

However, only 3,023 Mubende goats were procured and were not distributed to farmers at the time due to lack of sufficient funds.

In the year under review, Ministry of Agriculture officials released an additional $3.7 million to the company.

Using these funds, 5,040 Mubende goats were procured and these, together with the previous 3,023, were distributed to farmers five years later.

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