KAMPALA –The rift between the leadership factions at the National Organisation of Trade Unions – NOTU is steadily widening after the Governing Council referred the embattled Chairman General-Usher Wilson Owere to the disciplinary committee.
Owere has since described the Governing Council meeting that was held on Monday – leading to his suspension as illegal.
Owere – known to be one of the masters of backhand methods, landed himself into trouble when he endorsed Richard Byarugaba‘s re-appointment as the National Social Security Fund –NSSF, Managing Director, conflicting Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi, who had strongly opposed the move.
He is said to have colluded with Byarugaba in declining to offer the minister Ugx6b to run promotional campaigns for the Fund, a situation that seem to have strained both officials’ relationship with Amongi.
NOTU’s Governing Council meeting on Monday followed an earlier one in November 2022-whose outcomes were challenged through a court petition as the registrar general rejected the new officials on agreement that there were irregularities in the process.
NOTU deputy Secretary General, Stephen Mugole Mauku, who chaired the Monday meeting, said the General Council had followed all guiding principles in place.
Mugole, who has been acting Chairman General since what appeared like an internal coup, said this meeting was vital to ensure that all the vacant positions were filled, at least on a temporary basis. He said that basically, the new leaders are the same that the Registrar General had declined to gazette after a petition over the procedure.
Mugole handed over the leadership to Musa Okello who was ‘elected Acting Chairman General’ to serve until December when substantive leaders would be elected.
The others are Secretary General, Richard Bigirwa, Acting Treasurer General, Moses Mauku, and Barbara Badaru who was elected deputy Treasurer General until December 2023.
Prior to the meeting, Mike Okua of Okua and Associated Advocates had warned of consequences if it went ahead, because, according to him, it was illegally called by a Deputy Chairman General and convened by the Deputy Secretary General, Tom Amiti.
“It is on record that at the last Governing Council Meeting on October 24, 2022, you, like the other Deputy Secretaries General declines to assume the role of acting Secretary General.
“That being the case, how and when did you assume the role,” he queried, quoting NOTU’s constitution on how an officer is named to act.
The letter also accused Mugole, who is also a Member of Parliament for Kabweri County, Kibuuku district of influencing the election of his brother, Mauku as Acting Treasurer General.
On why Owere would not attend the said meeting, the lawyers said it was clear that there would be no justice for him, considering how the filling of the vacant positions had been done, adding that he would not even attend the planned disciplinary hearing.
Owere said that since the other groups had gone ahead with the illegal meeting, action, as stated in the letter to Deputy Secretary General, will follow. “Let them watch the space.”
His lawyer described the planned process as tainted, illegal, amateurish, biased, predetermined kangaroo processes, which are devoid of any semblance of fairness.
“Please, feel free to go ahead with your illegalities as you wish but be warned that NOTU as an organisation, and yourself in your individual capacity, will pay dearly should our client invoke his right to seek court redress against your manifestly illegal manoeuvres,” said, the letter to Amiti.
The Deputy Chairman, Mugole, explained how they had followed the right procedure and the advice from the minister on the way forward, adding that even the letter by Owere’s lawyers was received late.
Bigirwa, the newly-elected Acting Secretary General said they were ready to take NOTU forward, starting with rebuilding the tainted image and reviewing the constitution, among others.
Additional reporting by URN