Onen’s directive would mean that the staff contracts should have been extended up to May this year. However, Kamugisha has since refused to renew the staff contracts which expired on November 30, 2015.
By Chris Kiwawulo
The Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB) executive director, Elly Twineyo Kamugisha, has disregarded a trade ministry directive seeking to extend staff contracts pending investigations.
The trade ministry permanent secretary, Amb. Julius Onen, directed Kamugisha to extend staff contracts for six months pending an investigation by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) on alleged irregularities in restructuring at the board.
"This is to remind you, that you are expected to comply with the (IGG) directives as stated therein and ensure that all the staff cooperate with the investigations. Based on the directive, all staff whose contracts are due to expire should be extended for further six months," Onen wrote on November 26, 2015.
Onen's directive would mean that the staff contracts should have been extended up to May this year. However, Kamugisha has since refused to renew the staff contracts which expired on November 30, 2015.
When contacted on Thursday, Kamugisha picked our call but declined to comment on the issue. But earlier, Kamugisha said UEPB had reviewed the staff structure following a recommendation by the IGG and that affected staff were asked to re-apply for any position they feel they qualify to hold.
But the workers petitioned the IGG, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, prompting her to stop the restructure pending investigations by her office over alleged unfair termination of staff contracts.
However, Kamugisha defied the IGG's directive and locked UEPB staff outside office. This resulted into the IGG arresting him for disobeying her orders. Kamugisha was held for two days at the Central Police Station in Kampala before he was released on bond.
Shortly after Kamugisha was arrested on December 2, IGG spokesperson Ali Munira said they were preparing documents to have Kamugisha produced before court and be charged with disobeying lawful orders contrary to section 35(c) of the inspectorate of Government Act.
Asked when the case would be taken to court to have Kamugisha prosecuted, Munira could not give a definite answer. She instead said, "I am in a meeting. I will get back to you," which she never did. However, New Vision has exclusively learnt that Kamugisha reported to the IGG's office on January 12 and his bond was extended.
Although the affected staff members keep on going to office, New Vision has also learnt that they have not been paid their salary for December and have since been denied internet access. They also missed out on shopping vouchers that UEPB staff members usually get towards Christmas.
"We are still working and are entitled to payment as per the PS' communication but the executive director has stopped our salaries saying our contracts ended in November. We are still waiting for the IGG findings and we shall take the next course of action. We may consider going to court to recover our pay," one of the staff noted.
In September 2015, Kamugisha sacked more than half (17) of the entire UEPB staff of about 24 employees in what he described as a restructuring exercise.