Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Vincent Ssempijja (pictured) has admitted to having slaughtered 15 cows from government owned Lusenke stock farm for his private function.
However, the Minister says the cows eaten were not breeding bulls, but castrated ones and those of poor quality.
Ssempijja’s admission is contained in a leaked statement he is slated to table before Parliament next week after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ordered the Minister to explain under what capacity he used public breeding bulls for his private function in Kalungu East, a constituency he represents in Parliament.
In his statement to Parliament, Ssempijja said he took the bulls from Lusenke stock farm and ate them during a public function organized to publicise Government achievements by leaders of Greater Masaka region, in fulfillment of the requirement of NRM Party where it urged Party leaders to make sure that Government programs were properly monitored, coordinated and whatever achievements that have been attained were highly popularised as a way of accounting for the public.
The Minister admitted having solicited for support from public entities requesting for support, a communiqué he sent on 8th October 2C19, to the Executive Director, National Animal Genetic Research Centre & Data Bank (NAGRC &DB) inviting the entity to participate, exhibit and demonstrate the achievements attained.
“In that same letter, I requested the Agency to make financial contributions to the Organising Committee. I did not request the Agency to give me cows,” Ssempijja says in a statement.
He adds: “The Management of National Animal Genetic Research Centre & Data Bank in their own wisdom and following the organization internal management system decided, through their contracts committee, to approve and contribute 15 (fifteen) steers (castrated young bulls).”
The Minister further defended the ‘donation’ arguing that these steers were delivered to the venue of the function by the Agency itself using its own vehicle and that the 15 animals in question were not bulls used in breeding programs, but castrated young bulls (called steers).
“The impression that these bulls come from South Africa is also not true. The 15 steers in question were of small type “East African Zebu cattle. That the donation of steers (animals), and chicken by National Animal Genetic Research Centre for purposes of supporting public functions is not irregular and did not start with this particular function.”
He added that the cows they ate yield small amounts of meat as opposed to the high bleeding animals that are maintained for breeding purposes.
The Minister’s statement follows concerns raised by both Medard Lubega (Busiro East) and Theodore Ssekikuubo (Lwemiyaga County) who accused Ssempijja of undermining the directive of Parliament to explain the matter and instead chose to address the bull theft in the media.
Ssekikubo described Ssempijja’s decision as a worrisome trend that renders Parliament as a laughing stock, adding that Uganda is grappling with a crisis in the livestock sector of lack of the best breeds for farmers and at one time, Government was forced to buy breeding bulls at Shs6bn from South Africa, and these particular bulls slaughtered by Minister Ssempijja were bought at Shs100M.