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Minister Hillary Onek Threatens to Resign Over Disregard by Nabbanja

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Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hillary Onek has threatened to resign over the conduct of the new Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.

Onek expressed his displeasure in a letter to the Prime Minister dated October 29th 2021.

In the letter, the Minister accuses his senior of micromanaging his ministry and taking over all activities of his and his deputy.

Onek accused Nabbanja of calling meetings behind his back, interdicting his line staff without investigations and taking decisions for his ministry without his input for which he says he won’t allow to be held accountable.

Onek’s latest protest letter comes on the heels of another September 15 letter in which he roundly disagreed with the premier’s decision to divert Shs 5bn from the Shs 15bn allocated to his docket as contingency budget. Onek could not be reached for comment as his known phone number was off while calls to Nabbanja went unanswered.

Read Onek’s full 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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