MPs, Minister Nsambu Clash Over Laptop Deal in Uganda

Computing

The ICT junior minister, John Alintuma Nsambu, has denied accusations that he used his position to do personal business with the government. "It's not true that I am using my position as a minister to avail laptop computers for public servants, for personal gain," Mr Nsambu's statement dated September 25 reads in part. "I did this before I became a minister and therefore, I don't need to be a minister to do what I am doing for public servants and students today."

MPs had accused the minister of initiating a personal $150 million project called "Laptop Computers for Public Servants Programme" and claiming it was a government venture. Nsambu has been spearheading a drive for civil servants to acquire computers on lease arrangement and officials who acquire the laptops have their salaries deducted until they have paid the full sum. The laptops, are, however, said to be valued a little below market rates.

But in his three-page release, Nsambu insists that the laptop programme under the ICT ministry largely aims at accelerating computer literacy skills among public servants. "My office didn't commit government to $150 million," Nsambu stated.

"These funds were committed by our genuine friend (Douglas Tausik of Tropix Technology) to make sure that there are always enough funds at the factory to manufacture and supply affordable quality top-of-the-range computers for public servants and students," the statement adds.

Last month Parliament requested a detailed explanation into allegations that Nsambu conspired with Tropix Technology, a US-based computer firm to accomplish personal business which has nothing to do with government.

In his explanation, Nsambu said; "As you all know, it has almost become my hobby to help others in my private capacity so that they can have access to computers. This hobby for lack of a better word, started even before I became an MP in 2001 and a minister in 2006."

In a direct response to the MPs' suspicions, Nsambu said in monetary value, the personal initiative has saved the government Shs3.2 billion which would have been required to install computer laboratories in the ICT needy schools.

The Monitor