Labour Ministry under fire for alleged extortion from Ugandan Housemaids in Arab countries

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Under fire; Hon. Janat Mukwaya: File

A section of Members of Parliament are pushing for an inquiry into alleged fraud in the Ministry of Labour in which funds solicited from Ugandan migrant workers in Arab countries end up in a personal bank account.

MP’s claim the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development has been fraudulently soliciting billions of money from Ugandan migrant workers in form of proceeds to the External Recruitment Monitoring Fund, but the monies end up in a private account. According to reports, the fund was constituted to support Ugandan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

Led by Western region Youth MP Hon. Mwine Mpaka, MP’s want parliament to institute an inquiry into the alleged fraud in the ministry, and punitive action taken against the culprits since the alleged fund was not legally constituted.

According to documents presented by MP’s, the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) on behalf of labour export companies remits $70 paid by each Ugandan who is exported for labour, which money is then channeled into a personal bank account held by one Mr. Yassin Abdulaziz Musoke’s.

Mr. Yassin Abdulaziz Musoke is the labour liaison officer based at Ugandan Embassy in Riyad, Saudi Arabia.

According to the bank statements the MP’s shared with the press, Mr. Yassin has received 668M Ugandan shillings in only six months which he has been freely spending on luxuries like perfume and chocolate while Ugandan girls continue to suffer in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

 MP’s want Parliament to constitute a probe committee to inquire into the status of the fund, and ascertain the legal framework under which the fund was set up since minister Janat Mukwaya has always denied the existence of such a fund. The MP’s also claim they have an audio recording of Hon. Janat Mukwaya threatening to revoke licenses of labour companies that fail to remit the money to UAERA.

The legislators say the fund was proposed as a precondition to lift a ban on exportation of housemaids to Saudi Arabia, but there is no legal framework under which the fund was set up.

They now demand to know why money is deposited on a personal account, and who Yassin is accountable to.

They claim that with 185 registered labour companies taking an estimate of 50 Ugandans abroad every year, the ministry collects about 30BN annually, which they say exceeds the annual budget for Uganda’s embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Manjiya County MP Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe says without the law, the action of the ministry is extortion and broad day-light robbery which must be investigated with the Minister Janat Mukwaya and the PS James Ebitu out of office.

Nambeshe said the act is double punishment for unemployed Ugandans who are seeking employment in Arab countries since many are employed there “against their will” regarding the harsh working environment in Arab countries.

The UERA Spokesperson Ronnie Mukundane confirmed that indeed a fee of $70 is charged for every Ugandan housemaid recruited to work in Saudi Arabia, but under the arrangement agreed between the association and labour exporting companies that subscribe to the association.

Mukundane says the fee was agreed upon between member companies and the association to facilitate monitoring of Ugandan workers in Saudi Arabia, and for funding running of day-to-day activities of the association.

He also said Mr. Yassin is paid by UAERA to undertake monitoring and supervision on migrant workers, but he is also an employee of Ugandan embassy in Saudi Arabia as claimed by MP’s.

Yassin Adulaziz Musoke’s employment records, he was appointed by Uganda’s Ambassador in Saudi Arabia Amb. Ahmed Ssenyomo on 1st May 2018, earning 6M salary every month on top of other privileges of a public servant including gratuity.

Efforts to reach the spokesperson for the Gender Ministry for a comment were futile as our calls remained unanswered.

 

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