11 October 2018

Uganda: Museveni Directs Umeme to Get Bigirimana On Board

Kampala — President Museveni has ordered an immediate investigation into the composition of the board of electricity distributor Umeme, with a view of confirming Gender, Labour and Social Development permanent secretary Pius Bigirimana as workers representative.

The President's September 7 directive to Finance minister Matia Kasaija will likely resolve an impasse that followed the rejection of Mr Bigirimana as representative of National Social Security Fund (NSSF) on Umeme board during an annual shareholders general meeting, held on May 17.

The reasons for Mr Bigirimana's rejection on the Umeme board were unclear, but Daily Monitor understands consultations are now underway to resolve the issue following the President's intervention.

NSSF is the majority shareholder in Uganda's main electricity distribution company Umeme.

"The workers are, therefore, concerned that Umeme has intentionally left out their representative on the Board and have appealed to me to intervene in protecting their interest. As you are aware, NSSF is the majority shareholder in Umeme. Since the fund handles workers savings, their interests must be duly protected by a government representative, who is the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development," the president wrote.

The President's directive follows a meeting by representatives of the National Organisation of Trade Union (Notu), who complained that Mr Bigirimana, who was nominated by NSSF as its representative on UMEME Board, was not confirmed.

At the time, a source who attended the closed-door meeting told Daily Monitor that the shareholders had rejected Mr Bigirimana's nomination, accusing him of being a "spoiler" in the different ministries he has worked in. But Mr Bigirimana later told Daily Monitor that his rejection and the war against him could have been the handiwork of "mafias."

"I heard that some people in the meeting claimed I'm involved in different scandals. But I have helped NSSF [through its board] to grow. I thought I would add value to Umeme," he said.

Following the directive, Notu chairman general Wilson Owere said they have given Mr Kasaija up to only 15 days to sort out the matter. "I was only waiting for the presidential directive, there are three ministries involved and they need a period of two weeks, failure to do that, Umeme may regret," he warned.

Indeed, Mr Kasaija in a telephone interview yesterday confirmed he had received the letter and had passed it on for resolution to his representative on the NSSF board, Mr Patrick Ocailap, who is also the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury.

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