14 February 2018

Uganda: Hotel On Racist Job Advert - We Want Someone With International Exposure

Photo: The Monitor
The advert that appeared in a local daily on Monday.

Serene Suites and Hotel says a job advert that appeared in a local daily and widely criticized by the public for being discriminatory was intended to recruit a talent with expert experience and international exposure.

In response to concerns raised by the Equal Opportunities Commission on Tuesday, the Mutundwe based hotel says: "The management's intent was never to discriminate or offend the public but rather to recruit a talent with expert experience and international exposure to train and upscale local staff in the current competitive leisure and hospitality market."

On Tuesday, the Equal Opportunities Commission asked Serene Suites to explain the basis of a job advert in which they ring-fenced top managerial jobs for specific racial groups.

This was after a local daily on Monday carried a job advert by the hotel in which they indicated that the preferred a white Hotel Manager and an Indian Restaurant Manager. The advert triggered public ire and ridicule for discriminating against local labour.

Other jobs advertised which were not ring-fenced for whites and Indians include; waitresses and waiters, kitchen chefs, receptionists, pool attendants, gym instructor, housekeepers, outside cleaners, social media manager, car drivers, boda-boda motorcycle rider, saloon attendant, gardener, accountant and human resource manager.

The Secretary to the Equal Opportunities Commission Mujuni Lawrence in a letter, asked the hotel manager/proprietor to explain why they specifically want to give the two jobs to the groups they indicated.

"You are hereby ordered to make a written explanation as to why your hotel seeks to recruit for the mentioned positions taking into account the prospective applicant's race and origin. The written explanation must reach the commission by close of business on Thursday, February 15, 2018," the letter reads.

The commission noted that Article 21 of the constitution of Uganda prohibits discrimination based on race, colour or ethnic origin. "Discrimination on these grounds is also prohibited in several provisions of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act of 2017. Section 6 of the Employment Act specifically prohibits discrimination in employment... the commission, therefore, found your advert discriminatory and an affront to the concept of equal opportunities," the letter further reads.

The commission further ordered to halt the recruitment process until when hotel management is cleared.

In their explanation, the hotel says it has given priority to the employment of local Ugandan staff and is an equal opportunities employer.

"We therefore, welcome the equal opportunities Commission's intervention in rendering guidance in the matter and will ensure full cooperation and adherence through this process," further reads the hotel's statement dated February 14.

According to its website, Serene Suites is located within a 10-minute drive from Kampala city centre.

Three years ago, a private citizen Kenneth Kaggwa dragged Shell and Bolton International Ltd, a hospitality and construction firm, to the Constitutional court over a similar job advert.

Mr Kaggwa said that the advert was discriminative against Ugandans in what is supposed to be an impartial local job market.

The advert calling for applicants for the position of an administrative assistant who "must be a foreigner (Indian, Phillipino, white)," ran on page 49 of the same local daily on October 20, 2014. It attracted criticism from the general public.

Kaggwa later stated that the advert was racist and contradicted several provisions of the Constitution as well as the employment act which bar prejudice in race, colour, and national extract and social origin.


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