KAMPALA, Uganda: Today (October 7th 2019), was a busy day at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA)’s head office, particularly on the fourth floor where, some members of the Board of Directors held an inevitable extraordinary meeting.
Inevitable because the impromptu matter before them involves the topmost officers at the authority, hence affecting the day-to-day running of business at one of the biggest government establishments. It’s the Managing Director Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira and the Board Secretary/Director Corporate Services, Mr. Andrew Kilama Lajur locking horns over the latter’s job contract.
The Investigator exclusively understands that yesterday, the person of the MD reportedly stormed and caused a stampede at a mainstream newspaper, the Monitor Publications Ltd base in Namuwongo. This was to supposedly stop an impending story on the subject matter. To him, it’s such a minor thing that shouldn’t attract media attention. Only he wants is Kilama out of office. Period.
It is a story which insiders at the Jinja Road premised agriculture facility say, has been long overdue, depending on the deep-seated hatred between the two men over management issues. It all unveiled when, Kilama’s five-year contract expired on September 30th 2019. In lieu of the Authority’s Human Resource Manual, Kilama had on July 1st 2019 expressed his desires to renew his hitherto unchallenged contract.
As Kilama waited for his application’s ‘obviously positive’ consideration (Its auto unless otherwise proven), it fell on him that the would-be process to assess his performance was instead turned into a disciplinary proceeding. Indeed, on September 30th 2019, he received a letter from the Managing Director, informing him that the Board rejected his application and hence, he should prepare to handover office and leave the premises.
“This is to inform you that the Board of Directors has decided not to renew your employment contract. This is therefore to request you to make arrangements to handover office and other items under your possession to the Finance Manager within seven days from the date of receipt of this letter,” partly wrote Niyibigira.
The following day (October 1st 2019), Niyibigira released a general staff notice, re-echoing the same to all staff members of the changes before announcing temporary caretakers. “In the interim, Ms. Nina Nassuuna will be running the functions of Director Corporate Services on top of her current duties of Finance Manager; while Ms. Eunice Kabibi will handle Board matters on top her duties of Legal Manager.”
Niyibigira concluded his memo with a request to members of staff to “be informed of the changes and to accord the necessary support to the new management.” In an astonishing occurrence however, Niyibigira after two days (October 3rd 2019), swaggered in, broke and replaced Kilama’s office with new locks, long before the elapse of seven days he had given his colleague to “prepare” and leave office. He further reportedly blocked his access to the group staff e-mail, hence physically and electronically cutting him off the management ladder.
‘To hell with you’
To educate ourselves on why the MD overacted on his executions even before own set deadlines, we learnt that the no-nonsense Kilama had practically ignored him and officially communicated the same to staff members. “He rightly reasoned that the MD wielded no official powers to communicate to him the Board of Directors’ decision [if any] of which he (Kilama) would be party,” offered one of the senior staff members on anonymity condition.
In his October 2nd 2019 official communication to Niyibigira and all staff members, Kilama hit back thus; “Dear all, I have been out of town on invitation of our key stakeholders and had not been able to respond to this illegal memo. Please be informed that the UCDA Board has not taken any decision regarding the renewal of my contract.
As you’re all aware, the power to appoint and terminate employment contracts of all managers and above rest with the Board. There are two statutory executive positions in UCDA that is the Managing Director and the Board Secretary. The Board is also obliged to follow the established rules and procedures in appointing and termination of the said positions including that of the Board Secretary. So, the Managing Director does not also have any powers to appoint anyone in acting position in that level.
So, all staff are informed that the status quo remains until the Board take a decision in a duly constituted Board Meeting or by circular resolution drawn properly and signed in accordance with the relevant law. Given the above, I call upon all UCDA staff to remain calm and ignore execution of any illegal instructions. Our primary focus is to continue diligently serving our stakeholders as the Board as other key stakeholders seek to find amicable solution.
You must be all well assured that there’s no one above the law (not even the MD) in this motherland that we all love dearly. I urge you that when called upon, please fully cooperate with any due process and procedures of any relevant government departments that will set in motion, shortly to address this impasse. For God and My Country. Andrew Kilama Lajur.”
Efforts to reach out to the Managing Director and or the Board of Directors Chairman Mr. Perez Bukumunhe were futile last evening as none picked our calls or responded to the same afterwards. This could have been because of the impromptu meeting mentioned earlier above. Watch this space…
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