Agriculture Minister, Vincent Ssempijja
All is not well at Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), a body mandated to promote and oversee the coffee industry as a whole by developing research and controlling the quality and improving the marketing of coffee. UCDA was established by an Act of Parliament (The Uganda Coffee Development Authority Act, Cap 325 of 1991).
However, if infightings at the coffee Authority don’t stop, Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner will be adversely affected.
The latest we have gathered point to influence peddling and illegal exercise of power in the appointment of UCDA Board of Directors.
It is worth noting that the previous Board had their term expire on 3rd July, 2020 and some of them were eligible to have their term renewed while others are not eligible having served the two terms of three years each which the ACT says cannot be exceeded/extended.
However, the Managing Director of the Authority is ex-official of the Board who is not affected by the two-term limit as other members but is appointed and supervised by this very Board of Directors. The current MD is Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira.
In a letter dated 3rd August, 2020 to Vincent Ssempijja, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal, Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) obtained by Business Focus, a whistleblower reveals that the current Managing Director is “clearly involved in efforts to determine the persons who will sit on the next Board of Directors.”
The reads which was received by the Minister’s office today 4th August 2020 further reads: “This is exemplified by the many letters he has personally to the bodies represented to the Board, or stakeholders, that are supposed to nominate persons to the Board. In these letters, he is requesting for name (s) and their curriculum vitae before they can be forwarded to your good self.”
This website has obtained a letter dated 2nd July 2020 in which Iyamulemye writes to the Permanent Secretary at MAAIF regarding the nomination of the Ministry representative on UCDA Board of Directors. This is after the two terms of Beatrice Byarugaba ended and can’t be re-appointed in line with the law.
The whistleblower cites another instance where the UCDA boss is writing to the Minister in reply to his (Minister’s) letter of 20th July, 2020 on the same subject of “Constitution of the Board of Directors-Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA)” and it is dated 27th July, 2020 and copied to the three State Ministers under Ssempijja’s Ministry and the Permanent Secretary.
“It is conforming that he wrote to all “concerned constituents” calling for names of nominees and their CVs soon which he has not received yet but will forward them to you as he receives them,” the whistleblower writes.
The letter adds: “It is very clear that the Managing Director, Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira, is interfering and involving himself in choosing the Board which is supposed to supervise him as an employee of the Authority or possibly, re-appoint him in future or dismiss him if need be. This process of appointing and constituting a Board is exclusively for the line Minister and no one else under the Act.”
The whistleblower also exposes the Minister’s weaknesses in matters of law.
“I note as well that your good self have been involved in exchange of letters with the Managing Director on the same topic and I suppose it was not to encourage him to do what he is already doing because it is influence peddling and it is against good governance, the Act and the governance protocols of UCDA,” the letter reads in part.
He/she states that the above actions are illegal because they contrive Section 5 (3) of the Act as well as principles of good governance.
“I wish to point out that already the process of constituting the Board of Directors of UCDA is polluted, poisoned and littered with illegalities and no good can come out of it,” the letter reads.
The whistleblower also warns of the power vacuum at UCDA.
“You will note that the body remains without a Board of Directors since 2nd July, 2020 yet it is a very important agency in the economic development of our country not to mention that maladministration that is likely to occur in this period of non-existence of the Board of Directors,” the letter reads, adding that the National Coffee Bill, 2018 that is before Parliament doesn’t “affect my petition to your good office.”
The whistleblower wants the Minister to stem what he/she calls illegal actions and of the UCDA Managing Director. The letter is copied to the three State Ministers of MAAIF and the Permanent Secretary.