accused of blocking new CAO
By Michael Mubangizi
The leadership deadlock in Ssembabule district has taken
another twist with the new Chief Administrative Officer
(CAO) being denied access to the office.
Even the intervention of the Minister of Local Government,
Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire has not helped the acting CAO,
as the incumbent still refuses to vacate office.
On May 14, 2008, Otafiire appointed Paul Walakira acting
CAO and directed the acting CAO, Patrick Karinkiza, to hand
over to him immediately. But Karinkiza has reportedly defied
this ministerial directive.
Karinkiza told The Weekly Observer on phone early this
week that he could not hand over to Walakira as his letter
had some “irregularities.”
“The letter did not recognise Ssembabule CAO, so Walakira
was recalled. I cannot refuse to hand over office because
I am just acting for the CAO who is on sick leave,”
Otafiire’s intervention came after the Local Government
Permanent Secretary, Vincent Ssekkono, had written two letters
about Walakira’s appointment.
The LC-V chairman, Herman Ssentongo, says the Minister of
Foreign Affairs and MP for Mawogola County, Sam Kutesa,
has frustrated the smooth hand over.
Ssentongo told a press conference at Parliament buildings
last week that Walakira cannot assume office because he
has not been approved by Kutesa.
Although Ssekkono admitted that there was “a problem”
he could not confirm to The Weekly Observer whether Kutesa
had a hand in this stalemate.
“We can’t run the ministry in newspapers, there
is a problem and we are handling it,” Ssekkono said
before hanging up.
On April 15, 2008, Ssekkono wrote to Walakira transferring
him from Mbale district where he was Deputy CAO to serve
in Sembabule as acting CAO, effective April 21, 2008.
According to Ssentongo, Walakira reported for duty but Patrick
Karinkiza whom he was meant to replace refused to vacate
office, allegedly on Kutesa’s orders.
But Karinkiza denied because being backed by Kutesa.
“I am just a simple civil servant. Hon. Kutesa is
too international to involve himself in this local politics.
I have not refused to hand over but Walakira’s letter
had some problems which had to be corrected,” Karinkiza
The anomaly in the letter was also confirmed by Walakira
when The Weekly Observer contacted him on phone.
Walakira admitted that his first letter wasn’t clear,
as it didn’t tell Karinkiza to hand over to him.
“I am not yet CAO there. We were sorting out a few
things. I will know the fate on Thursday (May 22, 2008)
that is when I will comment,” he said.
But Ssentongo alleged during the press conference that Kutesa
doesn’t want a Muganda to take over the district administration.
Asked about allegations that he was rejected because of
his tribe, Walakira was evasive.
“I wasn’t confronted directly,” he said.
On April 29, 2008, Ssekkono wrote another letter to Karinkiza
confirming his appointment and directing him to hand over
to the latter.
But Karinkiza, reportedly stuck to his guns.
When Ssekkono’s letters were ignored, Otafiire intervened
and wrote another letter on May 14, 2008 confirming Walakira’s
“This is to confirm that Mr. Paul Walakira has been
posted as acting CAO to Sembabule and to direct that the
acting Assistant CAO Mr. Patrick Karinkiza who has been
acting CAO hands over immediately to him for smooth management
of the district,” Otafiire’s letter read in
But even Otafiires directive was ignored.
The Weekly Observer has learnt that Walakira has since been
appointed CAO of Apac district to replace one who has gone
for further studies.
Ssentongo said the absence of a CAO puts the district in
“There is a crisis. The absence of CAO puts the management
of a district in a quagmire. A lot of malpractices can arise
in the district! Who is now in-charge of the Shs 12b for
But Kutesa denied any wrongdoing. When The Weekly Observer
contacted him on phone last week, Kutesa said: “How
do I refuse? I have no part in it…I don’t even
know what the man (Walakira) looks like.”
Kutesa said that Ssentongo has problems with his councilors
and he has failed to sort them out.
He also rubbished allegations that he rejected Walakira
because he is a Muganda,
“That is stupid. I am not a fool to tow that line
and anybody who brings a tribal card in Sembabule will fail,”
During the same press conference addressed by Ssentongo,
Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo wondered why the Minister
of Foreign Affairs was interfering in Local Government affairs.
“He is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, now he takes
on powers of Local Government minister, Permanent Secretary,
district CAO; last time he appointed a returning officer,”
The controversy over the Sembabule CAO started in September
2007 when then CAO Robert Twesigye went on sick leave, leaving
Karinkiza temporarily appointed CAO until November 17, 2007.
Twesigye is still on sick leave.
The district is also plagued by lack of a functional District
Service Commission and complete district executive.
The chairman, Ssentongo, doubles as District Secretary for
Technical Service and Secretary for Production, portfolios
that are supposed to be occupied by other councillors.
Ssentongo said the people he appointed to run the above
mentioned committees declined the appointments on Kutesa’s
directives, forcing him to run them.
“It’s not that I am power-hungry,” he
Ssembabule politics is dominated by two factions; one led
by Kutesa and the other by Ssekikubo.
Kutesa’s favoured LC-V candidate, Dr. Elly Muhumuza,
has twice (2001 and 2006) lost to Ssentongo, who belongs
to the Ssekikubo faction.