28 April 2014

Uganda: MTAC Manager Suspended

Anxiety and fear has gripped the staff of Management and Training Advisory Centre following the suspension of a senior manager over neglect of duty. Medard Nabaasa, the human resource and administrative manager at the Nakawa-based institution, was suspended on April 23 by Executive Director George Tumwesigye. In the suspension letter, Tumwesigye lists a catalogue of misdeeds on the part of Nabaasa, including losing the institution's laptop under mysterious circumstances.

"This particular case of losing your employer's property in the manner as preseanated in your report is serious and amounts to neglect of duty/conducting oneself in a manner prejudicial to proper performance of your duties," Tumwesigye wrote.

Tumwesigye also accused Nabaasa of failing to produce staff appointment letters despite several reminders.

"You are, therefore, liable to disciplinary action in accordance with regulations no. 38 (ii), (iii), (iv), (x) and (xi) of MTAC staff regulations, terms and conditions of service. Your overall conduct is detrimental to the centre... ," Tumwesigye said.

Tumwesigye wrote that Nabaasa would be on suspension until the governing council considers his matter. At the moment MTAC has no governing council. The previous one expired in October last year.

But Nabaasa, who has worked at MTAC for 14 months, has cried foul. In a letter dated April 24, he accuses Tumwesigye of witch-hunt. He says because he has always opposed some of his decisions, he is "paying back."

"The loss was through theft while in transit from duty. A report was filed both with Uganda Police Force at Bweyogerere station and with the ED. This, ideally, is not any different from many other computer losses we have incurred," says Nabaasa's letter, addressed to Julius Onen, the permanent secretary ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.

Among other things, Nabaasa accuses the ED of favouring some employees, including an unnamed cousin who was awarded a senior trainer position at MTAC yet he does not have requisite qualifications for the position. He writes that Tumwesigye has disregarded his advice several times and prefers to work outside established structures.

"I request for a fair hearing as a principle of natural justice and eventual end of suspension. My feeling of the entire deal is that I am being intimidated for whistleblowing these issues. I am fully engaged to serve my country through MTAC and I have not deliberately refused my supervisor's instructions whatsoever to warrant me a suspension," Nabaasa wrote.

Sources at MTAC told us that Nabaasa has some shortcomings but the manner of his suspension has created fear and panic among employees and many are wondering whether they could be next.

Some employees blame the ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives for failing to constitute a governing council. At the moment, all decisions are taken by Tumwesigye, who some people accused of abusing his powers.

"Before, you could lodge a complaint with the council which could give you a fair hearing. Now it is not there. We are at the mercy of the MD, whose word is unquestionable," said an employee, who requested to remain anonymous.

Permanent Secretary Julius Onen told The Observer at the weekend that he was still studying Nabaasa's letter.

"It would be premature to comment at this time. Let me first look at all the issues and I will give you a final position," Onen by telephone.

We reported last week that an investigation by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) had discovered that hundreds of millions of shillings in financial and other expenses for last financial year were unaccounted for.

The OAG also noted that the institution has outstanding PAYE arrears amounting to Shs 563m, which could become unsustainable if not cleared in time. MTAC, under the ministry of Trade, was inaugurated in 1964 to, among other things, assist government departments, public and private institutions with advisory and training services.

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