By John Odyek
Ugandans living and working in Switzerland have asked the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to ask government to back them for top international positions and jobs.
Sharing several issues with the Speaker, the group said that despite the challenges they have encountered co-ordinating projects that affect Uganda, they are still committed to ensuring the best for the country.
The group under the umbrella body ASUGAS (Association of Ugandans living in Switzerland) is a cross-section of Ugandans living in and working with various International Organisations within Geneva said a statement from Kadaga’s office.
Kadaga led delegation of MPs to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the 130th Inter Parliamentary Union Assembly.
While asking government to fully supports the advancement of professional Ugandans who have hit a glass ceiling, the ASUGAS chairman, Michael Nsobaine, challenged the country to pay all her outstanding dues to International organisations.
“Secondment to International organisations involves money; the powerful are those that make their contributions to the UN,” Nsobaine said.
He cited UN Peace Keeping Missions where the representative of the UN Secretary General is usually seconded from the country contributing the largest number troops.
In Somalia for example, Uganda is contributing the largest number of troops but because the Government of Uganda did not support any Ugandan to take up the position, it was given to someone from another country. “If we don’t make our payments, we are voiceless,” Dr. Pamela Mbabazi said.
Kadaga advised the meeting that when opportunities arise for placement of Ugandans to certain positions in international bodies, where Government support is required and a request is made to that effect, a blind copy of the request should be sent to Parliament. “We are your allies,” she added.
The diaspora group highlighted the need for Uganda’s mission in Geneva to have a medical attaché with the competence to sustain high level discussions and implementation of programmes between the World Health Organisation (and other health bodies in Geneva) and Uganda.
Currently, Uganda embassy in Geneva neither has the capacity nor the expertise to handle this sector.
The medical professionals on the team decried the sluggishness with which Uganda responds to international opportunities.
Dr. Were explained that projects which would have otherwise have been implemented in Uganda had been moved to other countries because the preferred choice, Uganda has not responded as required or in a timely manner.
“For instance it has taken Uganda five years to decide on the prequalification of the Uganda National Laboratory by the WHO, and yet this had followed intensive lobbying by Ugandans working in WHO to have Uganda benefit from this,” he explained.
Kenya and Tanzania which started to lobby for the same long after Uganda have already had their national laboratories pre-qualified.
“Uganda has lost a number of opportunities as a result of the laissez-faire manner in which decisions are made in Government,” Were stated.
Another example given to illustrate the sluggishness was the lack of Ugandan candidates to fill the position of Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council where there are currently 14 vacancies.
When quizzed, officials at Uganda Embassy, Geneva said they had already written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and even to the Uganda Human Rights Commission but had received no response on the matter.
“If Uganda does not nominate anybody, other countries will fill up all the positions.”
Wrapping up her response to the various issues, Kadaga promised swift action from Parliament. “Our team shall take up the issues on the floor of the House, and with our people”, she said.
The Speaker’s delegation comprised Members of Parliament: Emmanuel Dombo (NRM-Bunyole County Easy), Betty Amongi (UPC – Oyam County South), Reagan Okumu (FDC – Aswa County) and Bbossa Kiyingi (Indep – Mawokota County South).