6 April 2014

East Africa: Cairo Bank Stand-Off

As Cairo Bank reels over the pension money scam in which swindlers using the East African Community Beneficiaries Association (EACBA) stole over Shs 2.5 billion from the government coffers, the managers must now contend with an alarming employee turnover. So far, four senior managers have quit in the last few months.

They include RehemaNakigozi former chief cashier, Isaac Ssentongo, former assistant main operations, Margret Magambo, assistant to the executive director in charge of international division and MunaKwehangana, former marketing manager. Additionally, HeadwidgeGariyo has tendered in her resignation and MastullaKalule, the head of human resource is also heading for the exit.

The departure of the managers, according to insider sources, is a result of the deteriorating management situation, which they say is untenable. As if that is not bad enough, other senior managers at the bank are also threatening to quit, citing poor pay, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Cairo International bank employs a total of 136 staff at its head office in Kampala of which only seven are Egyptian. However, our source at the bank says up to 80% of the entire pay package of the bank staff is taken by the seven Egyptian bosses with the local employees sharing the remaining 20%. Of course the Egyptian managers are paid in dollars as expatriates while the Ugandan's are paid in shillings.

A source at the bank who asked his name not be mentioned because he is not authorized to speak to the media said, "the banks' top management have flouted the investment procedures, which stipulate that expatriate staff are not supposed to spend more than five years as top managers. Some of the top Cairo International bank bosses are now in their 10th year. For example, Nabil Ghaneem, the managing director, and OsamDarwish, the executive director, have been in those positions for over five years.

It is harder for a local employees to be promoted than for the Egyptian bosses to be demoted. When contacted for a comment on the complaints arising from the staff, Cairo Bank Marketing and Communications Manager Aisha Natukunda, dismissed the allegations, attributing them to malice. "That information is based on wrong assumptions," she said. However, she admitted that the bank was affected by the East African Community Beneficiaries Association (EACBA) pension scam but they are recovering from its effects.

"Like any other employer, Cairo Bank allows people the freedom to join and leave when they want. Whoever has left did so at his/her own will apart from those who were relieved of their duties because of their involvement in the pension scam," she said. "Don't forget that people come with their ambitions and may be one failed to achieve his/her goals and now they are turning to damaging the image of the bank."

When pressed to reveal who she thinks is intent on damaging the bank's name, Natukunda declined to disclose names. However, our source at the bank stated that what is damaging the bank's image is indeed the high employment turnover resulting from the deteriorating poor management at the bank.

Cairo International bank is not the first non-indigenous bank to have issues with employees. Late last year, some 150 Bank of Baroda employees went on a sit-down strike demanding a 20% pay rise. However, Bank of Baroda managed to resolve their issues internally. Some of the Cairo Bank employees who talked to The Independent said there is need for the management to deal with the issues affecting employees immediately. The employees also say all the key decisions are made by a clique of seven Egyptian bosses yet there are Ugandans who have more experience and knowledge of how commercial banks operate.

This comes at the backdrop of a scandal now in court involving a top manager and his assistant in the international division who swindled over Shs 400 million from the bank's coffers. The money was set apart to pay shareholders' dividends.

Cairo International Bank has been in Uganda since 1995 and has four branches that include its main branch on Kampala Road, Kikuubo Branch, Bugolobi Branch and Quality Hill Branch. According to their financial statements, Cairo Bank doubled its profits after tax to Shs 1.86 billion in 2011 up from Shs 866 million in 2010.

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