By Umaru Kashaka and Paul Kiwuuwa
Former Finance Minister Syda Bbumba has advised the former employees of the defunct Coffee Marketing Board (CMB) who were retrenched between 1991 and 1998 after its privatization to wait for Court judgment since the matter has reached an advanced stage.
Appearing before the Parliamentary committee on legal and parliamentary affairs Wednesday to explain why she never implemented the president’s directive of paying sh11b to the ex-workers as terminal benefits during her tenure, Bbumba said she could not act (pay) against a claim under a case pending in court.
“I couldn’t disregard the advice of the Attorney General (Makubuya) who is the legal advisor to the Gov’t and okay this payment. The Solicitor General also in his wisdom guided that the case had good chances of success and should be argued on its merits,” the Nakaseke North MP told the committee chaired by the Mitooma Woman MP, Jovah Kamateeka.
She added: “Really as a mother I do sympathise with the former workers, although I think they should be patient and wait for the case outcome.”
Last year on April 26, the High Court presided over by Justice Benjamin Kabiito disposed of the matter and confirmed that the unionized employees had no further claims against CMB limited.
However, the former workers immediately expressed dissatisfaction with Kabiito’s ruling and some (over 200) appealed to the Constitutional Court demanding sh1.3b, while others, totaling to 1568, petitioned parliament seeking over sh10b.
They say the decision by the Attorney General to revisit his earlier opinion is a disappointment, and that he is colluding with some elements in the finance ministry not to pay them.
“The baseless claim that all former workers of CMB were duly paid even when the Auditor General has verified it is not only unconstitutional but absurd and malicious, intended to protect those who stole the ex-workers’ terminal benefits and squandered the assets of CMB and paid out huge bill of costs outside court,”