Over the last 4 weeks, BugandaWatch has received emails with attachments showing that some senior Buganda Government officials are part of a scam to defraud members of a Mengo sponsored savings and credit cooperative (SACCO). The sender also provided evidence that he is a member of a Mengo promoted Esuubiiryo – Zambogo SACCO who is simply upset that a few senior managers lend themselves and their friends large sums of money and the institution may collapse any time. According to initial BugandaWatch investigations, nearly all the SACCO’s upcountry branches have been closed and although members have never received a dividend, they are now unable to make make withdraws or borrow.
The headquarters of Esuubiiryo – Zambogo SACCO are located in Masengere Building, Bulange complex. The chairman of the board is Mr. Anthony Wamala who is also a principal at Buganda Royal Institute of Technical and Business Education, Mengo. Others are Ms. Mary Kakembo, Vice Chairperson, Ms. Nassejje Luyombo, Treasurer and Mr. Joseph Senkusu Balikuddembe, Member. Balikuddembe is also Dean of Students at Buganda Royal Institute of Technical and Business Education, Mengo.
In 2011, Mengo established Ssuubiiryo Development SACCO through the Buganda ministry for youth and employment, then headed by Mrs. Florence Bagunywa Nkalubo. Due to marketing challenges, the organization grew very slowly until 2014, when Katikkiro Mayiga’s administration rebranded it as Esuubiiryo – Zambogo SACCO. After that, membership grew fast partly because many young Baganda mistook it to be part of the popular Baganda Nkoba za Mbogo Students Association. It is now estimated to have over 4,000 members who paid UGX 10,000 to join and start saving.
According to documents in the email attachments that BugandaWatch has received, a few people with strong connections to the SACCO board or Mengo have borrowed tens of millions of shillings based on using applications that provide no evidence of ability to pay. On May 7, 2015, a woman who is widely known to be close to Mengo minister got UGX 10,000,000 after writing down “Business” as the purpose for the loan. The approved interest rate was left blank, suggesting that the loan was interest free.
In yet another case, man UGX 150,000,000 S on June 12, 2104, for construction purposes because he had a signed contract. Many of the big borrowers have refused to pay, which has emptied the SACCO’s accounts.
BugandaWatch is still trying to locate the manager Esuubiiryo – Zambogo SACCO, Mr. Steven Wampamba, to help verify claims by the unhappy members that he was fired for opposing the reckless unsecured lending of large sums of money by senior management to themselves, other Mengo officials and close associates.