Minister of Trade, Hon. Mwebesa Initiates Action: UNBS Executive Director to Face Suspension Over Allegations

The Minister of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives, Hon. Francis Mwebesa has said that he will cause the suspension of David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) over allegations of misappropriation of funds and misconduct.

This revelation came after he expressed shock at Ebiru still holding office despite having ordered the board to suspend him in June 2023.

Mwebesa made the disclosure while appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE), which had summoned the bureau to respond to the Auditor General’s queries for the financial year ended June 2022.

On Wednesday, 19 July 2023, Ebiru confessed to bribing the Chairperson and Board of UNBS with Shs100 million to avoid his pending suspension.

Both the Inspectorate of Government (IG) and the Minister of Trade had recommended for the suspension of the ED.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi asked the minister to explain if he was in charge of supervising UNBS, given reports of mismanagement of funds and corruption within the entity.

Ssenyonyi also tasked the minister to explain why he wrote a letter to Ebiru, suspending him for six months on 26 June 2023, but on 27 June 2023, he wrote another letter to the Chairperson of the UNBS Board rescinding his earlier decision.

He also tasked the Board Chairperson, Charles Musekuura to state why he was given the authority to suspend Ebiru but he didn’t.

Musekuura told the committee that Ebiru actually rejected the suspension.

Mwebesa on his part said that he was shocked to see Ebiru still in office yet he had suspended him.

Mawokota South MP, Hon. Yusuf Nsibambi read for the minister the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act, which gives the minister powers to appoint the Executive Director, stating that the suspension, therefore, can only be done by the minister not the board.

This prompted Ssenyonyi to ask the minister to explain what his next step would be.

Mwebesa said he will write a letter suspending the Executive Director immediately. “I am going back to write a letter telling him that I thought you had gone on leave following the earlier suspension and yet you are here and have not gone on leave.  I will tell him to go on leave,” he said.

Ssenyonyi directed minister to copy the letter to the committee so that they can include it in their report.