In what seems like a coup of sorts, Uganda’s oldest diaspora association UNAA has received a new President despite one person claiming to be the reigning President.
Mr Daniel Kawuma on Saturday swore oath of President for UNAA in Boston having won a controversial online poll to replace Monday Atigo who refused to participate in the polls calling them illegal.
Mr Kawuma won the elections with overwhelming majority while his rival Atigo was away in Uganda to fundraise for the association through meetings in his presidential capacity.
Consequently, a swearing-in ceremony was organized to oath Kawuma into office. He was sworn in by embattled UNAA Board of Trustees Chairperson Dr. Joseph Buwembo albeit online in the physical presence of other UNAA big wigs including; Ms Rosette Sserwanga, the first and so far only female President of UNAA, Kasirye Musoke the first President of UNAAO, former UNAA Vice President John Ssemanda among others.
During the ceremony, Mathew Ssuna Mulondo, a close friend to Kawuma praised him as a leader of quality.
“I am happy to be here on this day, this is a great day and I am so happy that Kawuma is elected as our president. Kawuma has all the qualities of a leader. I thank you for voting him, we can not take for granted the fact that as a doctor Kawuma is here to serve our association,” he said.
“I grew up with Kawuma in Mutundwe, he is passionate, a decision maker, innovative and communicates efficiently,” he added.
He lashed out at Kawuma’s rival, Atigo whom he accused of rigging the initial presidential elections in Miami last year.
Another member Harriet Zaffoni Nantumbwe welcomed Kawuma’s presidency as a new dawn in UNAA, saying that his election comes to cure the association of crooks that have been defrauding UNAA.
On his part, Kawuma said the presidency is a “great honor” to him.
He promised to preach the gospel of unity among the different diaspora groups not affiliated to UNAA.
“The sun will once again shine on the priorities of those in the diaspora, those seeking for career development, those Ugandans seeking an education and those seeking medical services,” Kawuma said.
“We plan to achieve economic empowerment and financial security, for the first time members of UNAA will have the option to sign up for life insurance policies for the first time. We shall also have an investment club so that UNAA is the engine for creating jobs and wealth for Ugandans in diaspora,” he added.
Kawuma says that UNAA will launch an emergence fund to offer answers to Ugandans who get hard up or troubled abroad, and an office to handle Ugandans seeking jobs, legal assistance among others.
Meanwhile, Atigo dismisses Kawuma’s presidency, saying that he was elected in personal elections.
“Those are not UNAA elections, but elections for Kawuma and the EC chairman,” Atigo said.
Atigo further released a communique urging members of UNAA against making any payments to Kawuma’s government in regards to the upcoming convention.
“Dear UNAA members, the UNAA Executive has learned with concern about some individuals telling people that there will be a discounted price for the Seattle convention if you attend the Kawuma organized event in Boston. Kawuma is not a representative of UNAA and if you give him/ his group your registration money, please do it at your own risk,” Atigo communicated thus.
The genesis of the Kawuma-Atigo fracas emanated from elections in Miami last year in which the later trounced the former by 23 votes. However, Kawuma dashed to the Board of Trustees petitioning a repeat citing irregularities which he succeed on getting.
However, the two groups disagreed on the date to conduct a rerun with Kawuma and the board urging for 90days after nullification while Atigo, UNAA Council, and the EC commissioners wanted to have the election during the convention in Seattle in September.
As a result, the two groups fell out, with Atigo labelling the Buwembo led board as Illegal and in turn Buwembo and group calling Atigo illegal.
Atigo then withdrew from taking part in the polls, and so did most members of the EC, but the board insisted on carrying out elections under the guidance of EC chairman Franco Wantsala.
The result of the polls declared Kawuma winner.