The chaos in Uganda’s oldest diaspora association, UNAA, must have come to stay longer than anticipated. The latest is that two people all claiming to be Presidents of the association released a festive holiday communique to members.
All communications titled; State of Affairs in UNAA, were released last week, one from Monday Atigo and another from a one Julius Muwulya all claiming presidency to the association.
However, while Monday Atigo signed his communication as; “President and CEO UNAA,” and copied message to executive members, Muwulya inclusive, it did not stop Muwulya from outing another communique in which he claimed he is the interim President and CEO.
It all started when the group disagreed over elections held during their convention in Miami. The allegedly fraudulent elections were won by Monday Atigo who beat his competitor and rival Dr Daniel Kawuma by 23 votes.
The UNAA Board of Trustees (BOT) sat and annulled the elections saying they were a sham, also asking Monday Atigo to quit his position for the Vice President Julius Muwulya to take over on interim basis.
“As provided for in the UNAA constitution bylaws, the UNAA Vice President, Mr John Julius Muwulya will be acting UNAA president on an interim basis until the new elections are carried out….The repeat election will be carried out not more than 45 days of the date of this communication and only those members in good standing as of August 1, 2017 will be eligible to vote. The voting will be carried out electronically,” a statement by the BOT chair, Dr Joseph Buwembo instructed.
The BOT also reiterated that the repeat of the elections be held within 90 days from the nullification date.
However, Mr Atigo on record insisted he will not heed to the BOT’s directive since they do not wield the mandate by constitution to withdraw any member of the executive from office. He instead swore to sack the members of the BOT next year.
After back and forth exchanges between the top management, the association’s EC settled to hold the repeat of elections during their annual convention in Seattle in September 2018.
This did not go well with the BOT, who retaliated with terminating the contract of the EC secretary, Dr Peter Simbi who issued the communication stating that the election had been pushed to September, albeit by consensus.
In their reason for sacking Dr Simbi, the BOT cited “unbecoming and detrimental conduct”. Mr Atigo again reminding the BOT of their lack of mandate said he would not allow the termination of Simbi.
Atigo instead revealed that the five members of the BOT have no qualification to sit on the bench. “They were sneaked in by a recent regime, the majority did not meet requirements to sit on the Board.”
Fight between Atigo and Board
The Board insists that the repeat of the election should be held in February, but the group loyal to Atigo insist the election will be held in September next year.
A source in UNAA intimated that the Board is desperate to have elections held in February because their term expires in April, and Atigo being the incumbent President has already indicated he will not renew their contracts.
Who has the power?
UNAA’s Constitution only allows the Board of Trustees to recommend to the UNAA Council the removal of an elected official, then the Council seating with quorum adopts this resolution for the annual General meeting which will take place in September in Seattle, this resolution was supposed to have been amended in Miami but the Board of Trustees have already argued that the election was compromised which means all amendments passed are non binding.
With the exception of Miss Rossette Sserwanga and Mr. Edward Nantamu the other five members did not meet the IUNAA constitution requirement. All Board of Trustees are required to have been UNAA members for five Consecutive years, (membership in UNAA is tied to payment, this the same argument the Board of Trustees are using to recall the election because about 100 voters in Miami have no proof of membership).
Since the board is illegally constituted, the EC which was nominated by the same Board automatically becomes illegal.
The President and CEO of UNAA reserves the right to renew or not, the term of contracts for Board Members. This means that the fight remains between the Board and Mr Atigo, with the board interested in seeing him go before their term expires.
Fake emails created
With the fight intensifying, a new email has been created to push supposedly official communications from the Board and their accomplices. The email is disguised as coming from the UNAA secretariat.
Mr Atigo claims in his communication that the email is “Intended to create confusion and further divide our organization.’
Government sacks of cash the source of chaos
A $100,000 (Shs360m) government annual contribution towards the activities of the UNAA is the immediate cause of the rifts in the organisation. The government has for close to 10 years been supporting UNAA.
Indeed, in 2014, five members of the UNAA Board of Trustees; Dr Sarah Matovu (Georgia), Dr Opiyo Oloya (Ontario), Mr James Serumaga (Boston, Massachusetts), Mr Alexander Zabasajja (New Jersey) and Dr Muniini K. Mulera (Ontario) resigned over accountability and transparency issues. The board chaired by Dr Muniini K. Mulera had decried the lack of accountability, and abuse and misuse of the funds.
For the first time in 29 years, the association will carry out a financial audit to find out out hos this money is spent, with many members already trading accusations of embezzlement of the fund.
Julius Muwulya in his communication states as thus;
“One critical area is the sponsorship money from the government of Uganda. It seems that now that we are more wasteful and barely breaking even. This is not growth but rather stagnation. It is evident from the report that the majority of the questionable and un-backed up transactions without proper documentation and accountability were performed by the Secretary of the association, Mr. Peter Mukunya. His actions have put this organization in arms way with a possibility of even shutting us down. Mr. Mukunya is a comrade and he might have tried to serve UNAA as best as he could, but his actions have caused more than financial loss to the organization. Most of the controversies in UNAA today have one common factor and that is the Executive Secretary. His actions are un-professional and I humbly ask Mr. Peter Mukunya to step down for the good of UNAA. This will give the association, a proper review, an opportunity at changing and implementation of the right controls that will guide this association for years to come.”
However, Muwulya before his current position was deputy speaker of the UNAA council and by his power was responsible for approving the money spent by the association. He however turned a blind eye during the time. The fact that he comes out at the moment to pin Mukunya is questionable.
Will elections happen?
The oldest Ugandan Diaspora organisation is in for a long stretch of turbulence that even the four days of the convention in Seattle could be consumed in political chaos. It therefore remains unclear if they will resolve matters even at the convention itself.