An inquiry by East African Community permanent secretaries has put the Secretariat’s Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko in the spotlight, questioning his financial stewardship and decision-making capacity, and recommending that he be held personally accountable for loss of funds.
According to a report of the inquiry, seen by The EastAfrican, the permanent secretaries who conducted the inquiry in Arusha from May 4 to 7, have recommended a raft of measures to streamline operations at the EAC Secretariat.
The inquiry was instituted by the EAC Council of Ministers after a former deputy secretary general for planning and infrastructure Dr Enos Bukuku wrote a letter levelling at least 13 accusations against the Secretary General. The PSs are technical people who advise the Council of Ministers on what normally forms the agenda of the EAC Heads of States Meeting.
Dr Bukuku’s accusations range from Mr Mfumukeko’s handling of a donor-funded project, to the award of a group life insurance cover contract to the third-ranked company, to use of the official car during holidays or leave.
He also accused the Secretary General of attending national consultations in his country, Burundi, at the expense of the EAC, using donor funds meant for strengthening of the Audit Unit to go for management training, and payment of allowances for staff while on paternity leave.
Unofficial EAC report
On operational matters, Dr Bukuku accused the Secretary General of employing staff without going through the Human Resource Advisory Committee, making unilateral decisions and disbanding the procurement committee.
The inquiry was conducted by Permanent Secretaries of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda. Burundi and South Sudan did not participate, an issue Mr Mfumukeko raised when contacted to respond to the findings of the Permanent Secretaries’ committee.
Under the EAC Treaty, the report cannot be considered as an official EAC report when it is not endorsed by all the partner states, he said.
He added that, contrary to procedure, “there was no Council directive asking the PS to carry out this investigation”. A request from one partner state is not a request from the Council, he said.
“The EAC Treaty and the EAC Rules and Regulations have set structures in charge of audit. Permanent Secretaries are not part of the audit structures,” said Mr Mfumukeko.
However, according to the report, the Permanent Secretaries interviewed Dr Bukuku, some Secretariat staff and the Secretary General during the inquiry. The report notes that the Secretary General later provided further information on the matters raised.
In the inquiry, the Permanent Secretaries established that up to $480,000 community’s reserve fund was withdrawn illegally and could not be accounted for and $200,000 was commingled in the partnership fund.
Also, a total of $29,705 meant for the inter–Burundi dialogue process was spent on facilitation of the SG travel to Burundi.
The PSs are now recommending that that the SG should be individually held accountable for the loss incurred for project funds.
©Alleastafrica and The Eastafrican