Mbale farmers sack leaders of Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative

Mbale farmers sack leaders of Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative
Cooperative members during the meeting.

In an unprecedented move, members of Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative Enterprise Limited ousted the existing board led by Patrick Waniaye.

The decision was spurred by a myriad of complaints ranging from the failure to adhere to cooperative regulations to the alleged mismanagement of assets.

This significant development unfolded during a special general meeting held in Mbale City, where the frustrations of the cooperative's members reached a boiling point.

The accusations levied against Waniaye and his board include the failure to convene mandatory annual general meetings, failure to present audited accounts, and adequately represent the interests of the cooperative's members.

The concerns were raised regarding the mismanagement of Gumutindo's assets, alongside allegations of diverting a substantial government bailout amounting to shs9 billion to Bugisu Cooperative Union under questionable circumstances.

One delegate, Wanda Wilson from the Lwamboko Cooperative Society, expressed the sentiments shared by many farmers who had attempted to engage with the board  for nearly seven years without answers.

He said the lack of communication, coupled with suspicions surrounding the transfer of the cooperative's land title, have fueled profound distrust among the farmers.

"For about seven years, no AGM, no communication," lamented Wanda, underscoring the frustration and sense of betrayal among the cooperative's members.

“Above all, hearing that the land title of the union has been surrendered to other individual’s farmers was suspicious.”

Driven by a palpable sense of urgency to address these pressing issues, the farmers invoked legal provisions to convene a special general meeting, during which they unequivocally passed a vote of no confidence in Waniaye and his board.

The decision to dismiss the current board and usher in a new one was met with resounding support from the gathered farmers, signaling a clear mandate for change within the cooperative.

“We resolve here and now to dismiss the current board chaired by Waniaye PatricK and to put in place the new board,”  Wambi Nimrode a delegate from Konokoi Primary society read. .

The farmers responded in a unanimous voice in support of the resolution.

Following the decisive action taken by the farmers, a new board comprising nine members was elected under the supervision of Industrial Division Senior Commercial Officer Beatrice Namono.

In response to the allegations leveled against him, Waniaye has challenged the legality of the meeting, alleging the presence of imposters.

He also  denied claims of fraud and mismanagement, asserting that the cooperative's factory's land title remains rightfully in Gumutindo's custody.

Waniaye also cited previous general meetings held in 2018 and 2019 to address financial issues, emphasizing efforts made to secure the cooperative's future attributing the disruptions of subsequent annual general meetings to COVID-19 SOPs and financial constraints resulting from the cooperative's indebtedness.

He revealed ongoing negotiations with Bugisu Cooperative Union to secure a soft loan to alleviate the cooperative's financial burden, which currently stands at shs15 billion.

“I have been reporting and seeking authority from the commissioner cooperatives to continue operating until I stabilize the union then before I bring the farmers on board,” said Waniaye.

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