The conviction of Herbert Kabafunzaki, the former State Minister for Labour has drawn mixed reactions in Rukiga county, Rukiga district.
Last week, Justice Margaret Tibulya of the Anti-Corruption Court found the former minister guilty of soliciting a bribe of 5 million Shillings in 2017. According to the prosecution Kabafunzaki directly solicited and accepted the bribe from Hamid Muhammed, the Chairperson of Aya Group of Companies as an inducement to clear him of sexual abuse allegations by his former employee, Jamila Opondo.
Justice Tibulya ordered Kabafunzaki to pay a fine of 10 million Shillings or serve a three-year jail term. Kabafunzaki was also barred from holding any public office for ten years and ordered to forfeit the 5 million Shillings he paid for his bail for absconding from the court proceedings.
The judge also issued a warrant of arrest directing security agencies to arrest Kabafunzaki on-site and produce him in the court to comply with the respective orders and sentence.
Sabitti Gonza Patirisi, a resident of Mukibaati in Kashambya sub-county, says that Kabafunzaki should pay for his sins. He says that being a Minister at the time of his arrest, he should have led by example.
According to Gonza, the conviction of Kabafunzaki should be an eye-opener to other government officials.
Francis Byamukama a resident of Nyakasa village in Bucundura parish, Kashambya sub-county says that Kabafunzaki should have been fined shillings 50 million and handed 10-year imprisonment at the same time.
Agnes Success, a resident of Muhanga town council says that fining Kabafunzaki and barring him from holding office for 10 years is not fair. She says that several government officials have engaged in corruption tendencies but are still holding ministerial positions.
She claims that barring Kabafunzaki from holding any public office for 10 years is politically influenced and aimed at suffocating his political future.
Gibbs Barigayomwe, the Rukiga District Youth Chairperson says that the judge should have been lenient and bar Kabafunzaki from holding any public office for at least five years but not 10.
Mark Muganda, a voter from Bukinda sub-county says that the judge should have ordered Kabafunzaki to only refund shillings 5 million that he solicited from Mohammed.
Muganda also says that the judge should have sentenced the former minister to at least six months instead of barring him from holding public office for 10 years. According to Muganda, many voters in Rukiga still have hopes in Kabafunzaki.
Kabafunzaki came to the limelight in Rukiga county in 2015 while promoting tea growing and sports in Rukiga County. In the same year, Kabafunzaki who was the then Makinde A Division LCV Councilor started Kigezi Good Samaritan Football Club.
In the same year, Kabafunzaki surprised voters when he contested for the Rukiga County Member of Parliament on the National Resistance Movement party ticket.
In 2016, Kabafunzaki defeated Jack Crissy Sabitti, of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party.
Last year, Kabafunzaki was defeated by Adison Kakuru in the NRM party primaries. Kabafunzaki then contested as an Independent candidate in the 2021 general elections but lost to Roland Ndyomugyenyi.