In a shocking revelation, city lawyer Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi has accused Rukiga Member of Parliament, Hon. Rowland Ndyomugyengyi Bish, of orchestrating a deliberate plot to tarnish his reputation. Katabaazi alleges that these efforts are a direct response to his decision to contest against the MP in the upcoming elections.
Addressing the press at the Kabale District Rukiiko Hall on Tuesday, after a meeting which brought together Tea Nursery bed operators and district authorities from Rukiga, Kabale, and Rubanda, Katabaazi vehemently defended himself against allegations of misappropriating Shs 39 billion that he received from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) to compensate tea farmers.
With a group of journalists in attendance, Katabaazi began by firmly refuting the allegations, emphasizing that all tea nursery operators had received their payments. He questioned the timing of these accusations, stating, “We received the funds to compensate these farmers in 2020. Why have they chosen to complain now, three years after they were paid? Can anyone genuinely claim to have been robbed and wait for three years to voice their concerns?”
Katabaazi then provided insight into what he believes is the actual cause of the controversy. He explained, “The trouble began on 18th July this year when we received a court ruling granting the nursery tea operators Shs 70 billion. Politicians, including MP Rowland Ndyomugyengyi Bish, are apprehensive about individuals like me who have expressed interest in contesting for the Rukiga county Member of Parliament seat. They are attempting to obstruct the transaction of Shs 75 billion, which would otherwise bolster my political standing.”
Katabaazi suggested that the politicians’ intentions were to manipulate the situation to their advantage in the upcoming elections. He added, “The assertion that nursery tea operators were not compensated is baseless and is being fueled by politicians with political interests.”
Responding to the accusations, Katabaazi called on MP Bish to provide a comprehensive list of nursery tea operators who were allegedly never paid, rather than relying on conjecture. He urged, “It would be more constructive if a list of those who were not paid is produced. If there were any irregularities, perhaps they could compile a list of individuals from Rukiga County who were not compensated. I would appreciate that more than the current smear campaign targeting our names.”
Katabaazi concluded by warning that the alleged efforts to harass him and others would only strengthen their determination. He highlighted the substantial funds they had already disbursed, stating, “For example, in Rukiga County, we have already paid out Shs 4.3 billion. Moreover, there are billions of funds scheduled for disbursement due to economic losses suffered. If these disbursements were obstructed, do you believe the people of Rukiga would be content with such actions?”
The lawyer also raised questions about MP Bish’s failure to publicly acknowledge receiving funds as a tea farmer himself. Katabaazi revealed that he had paid Hon. Bish Shs 200 million as a tea farmer but that this information had not been disclosed to the public.
Last month, the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) summoned Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi to address allegations of misappropriation concerning the Shs 39 billion fund. These allegations surfaced following a query raised in the 2021/2022 Auditor General’s report, which exposed inconsistencies in the disbursement of funds intended for tea nursery operators who had sued the government for its failure to procure their seedlings.