Kampala/Iowa (USA): It will need more than a diplomatic approach to bring together the membership and leadership of Uganda North America Association (UNAA) after a serious misunderstanding due to a huge grant from Uganda government.
According to a verified report, two-thirds (2/3) of the UNAA Council representatives have requested for an urgent meeting to “sort out the greviances” and this is being championed by Mr Georgina N. Kirunda, Council representative South-East Region.
On 8 October 2020, Uganda’s Ambassador to U.S, H.E Mull S. Katende wrote a letter to UNAA President, copy of the letter was sent to Chairman UNAA Board of Trustees, Seattle, Washington, USA.
In his letter under the title: “Uganda Government Grant to UNAA Convention and Community Development Fund – 2020/2021“, Amb Mull wrote: “This is to inform you that Uganda government grant of US$100,000 has been remitted to this Mission to be utilized as follows:
1. US$50,000 for UNAA Convention for FY 2020-2021
2. US$50,000 for UNAA Community Development Program Fund for FY 2020-2021.
“In accordance with the guidelines for the UNAA Annual Convention grant and UNAA Community Development Program Fund, the Embassy would like to communicate the following expectations,” Amb Mull says in his letter.
Some of the key expectations are: acknowledgement of receipt and accountability of grant funds from the Uganda government.
Secondly, a list of eligible UNAA Chapters indicating addresses, bank account details, amount to be received and contact persons be submitted to the Embassy by UNAA Executive. The Embassy will then proceed to remit the funds directly to the respective UNAA chapters.
Three, he demanded that accountability of funds from the beneficiary UNAA chapters including reports on the impact the funds made to the respective chapters.
In her response to Amb Mull on 9 October 2020, UNAA Council Speaker, Maureen Asiimwe Kalemba “greatly appreciated the government of Uganda for acknowledging the immense contribution of Ugandans in the Diaspora”.
Ms Asiimwe, in her letter replied: “This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated October, 8 2020 ……”
“Your Excellency, as Speaker of the UNAA Council, i wish to inform you that the UNAA Council is yet to debate or approve transparency and accountability guidelines for the Community Development Program Fund (CDPF). I can also categorically inform you that what ever guidelines and accompanying list of potential recipient organisations that were forwarded to your office were not properly discussed or approved within the relevant UNAA governing organs or, in accordance with UNAA’s Constitution,” Kalemba’s letter to Amb Mull further reads.
She says to her knowledge there has not been a single UNAA governing organ (Executive, Board of Trustees or Council) that “has ever formally met to discuss the above, and no invitation/announcement was ever sent out to community organisations to apply for this money”.
“While we greatly appreciate the government of Uganda for acknowledging the immense contribution of the Uganda diaspora community in North America, and for providing this grant money, we also know that these are Uganda tax payers’ funds – that should be properly accounted for,” she adds.
As such, she appeals, “I kindly request you to hold-off on the distribution of these grant monies to irregular list of organisations that the UNAA Executive has forwarded to your office, until such a time that UNAA governing organs (Executive and Council) have reached an agreement on transparency in the application processes and accountability guidelines for this grant.”
TND News has learnt that a meeting called by Georgina Kirunda, and 9 other councillors to be attended by UNAA Council Board of Trustees has been proposed for Saturday 31 October or Sunday 1 November 2020.
The meeting is intended to “arbitrate greviances raised by 2/3 of council members against council leadership in hope of alleviating a collaborative and a unified council”.
“Dear Board of Trustees”, the letter starts.
“This letter is to request for a formal meeting between UNAA Council and BoT to assist with resolving greviances raised by council members against council leadership pursuant to paragraph 5.2(e) of the UNAA Constitution which states that;
5.2: Powers and responsibilities of UNAA Board of Trustees: The UNAA Board of Trustees shall:
(e) Act as arbiter in conflicts between the Association’s organs or among the Association’s leaders and members.
“This document and its contents are made official by the signing of 2/3 of the UNAA council members and hence evoking the UNAA Constitution articles 7.10 and 7.11 which states that:
“7.10: Quorum: The presence of two-thirds (2/3) of members of the UNAA council shall constitute a quorum for purposes of conducting business, where there is an even number of the council members at a meeting, the Vice President shall cast the tier-breaker.”
Speaking to this publication on Friday, James William Mugeni, a council representative for Central Plains Region, 2019-2021, said: “If possible, we need to move to a direction where UNAA is dis-registered since it has moved into a political organisation.”
Mr Mugeni added: “I have served one of the two year term and realized it’s not worth. However, I think rather than drop out like most people do, it’s better to try to fix UNAA.”