Uganda’s efforts to export 20 million bags of coffee and earn millions of dollars in the near future hang in balance due to intrigue and ego-driven job fights that have rocked Uganda Development Authority (UCDA).
UCDA is the topmost agency in the country mandated to promote and oversee the coffee industry as a whole by developing research and controlling the quality and improving the marketing of coffee and to provide for other matters connected therewith.
The latest is that the job fights pitting UCDA Managing Director, Dr. Emmanuel Lyamulyeme Niyibigira (in featured photo) against Andrew Kilama Lajur, the Authority’s Board Secretary /Director Corporate Services threatening to ruin the sector’s bright future.
The intrigue in the Authority has seen Lyamulyeme allegedly illegally refuse to renew Kilama’s contract, thereby forcing him out of the coffee agency.
In the process, Kilama has dragged UCDA (first respondent) and Lyamulyeme (2nd respondent) to the High Court over wrongful dismissal.
High Court (Civil Division) Summons dated October 08, 2019 obtained by Business Focus, show that Kilama filed Miscellaneous application number 689/2019 (arising out of Miscellaneous Cause no 270 of 2019).
According to summons, Court has ordered UCDA and Lyamulyeme not to implement their decision to fire Kilama as communicated in their letter dated September 30, 2019 until the main suit is determined.
Court has also ordered UCDA boss to appear in the chambers of the presiding Judge on October 22, 2019 at exactly 12:30.
Kilama not only wants court to quash the directive and decision made by UCDA boss Lyamulyeme not to renew his contract, but also be made to pay him all the costs of the suit.
Kilama argues that his contract expired on July 1st 2019 and expressed interest to renew his hitherto unchallenged contract, but to his shock, he instead received a communication from the institution’s Human Resource Officer, saying that the Managing Director had directed him to inform him that he has been given seven days to prepare, then hand over the office and vacate the premises of the institution.
“On September 30th 2019, I received a letter from the Managing Director, informing me that the Board rejected my application and hence, I should prepare to handover office and leave the premises,” says Kilama, adding that as he waited for his application’s ‘obviously positive’ consideration, information fell on him that the would-be process to assess his performance was instead turned into a disciplinary proceeding.
“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,” Lyamulyeme’s letter to Kilama reads in part.
It is understood that the following day (October 1st 2019), Lyamulyeme 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,” the notice to staff reads.
Lyamulyeme 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, Lyamulyeme 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.
Kilama fights back
It is understood that in his October 2nd 2019 official communication to Lyamulyeme 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…”