RWAMPARA – After a few stumbles, the long-shelved election of leaders of Bugamba People’s Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) was held on May 20 in Rweibogo village, Bugamba Sub County in Rwampara district.
The tense election was conducted under the watchful eye of security officers camped at the venue of the special general meeting after two previous Annual General Meetings (AGM) were aborted.
Out of 1,744 members, about 600 turned up to elect new committee members whose term of office expired in 2019.
The special general meeting was presided over by Moses Magumba, a senior officer at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.
“Some of your members petitioned our office that the previous two AGMs were held but elections were not conducted. Since the term of office had expired and we never wanted a leadership vacuum, we came to conduct a special general meeting today, May 20,” Magumba said.
According to Christopher Ahimbisibwe, the General Manager of Bugamba People’s SACCO, the latest standoff has its roots in an April 2021 petition lodged by SACCO members with the Office of the Registrar of Cooperatives seeking clarity on who should take up leadership positions after the first and second AGMs conducted ended prematurely.
“At the close of the year 2020, members were to elect a new board but to their shock, the chairperson of the vetting committee had elected the full board committee without their approval. Members then wrote a petition in April 2021 to the Registrar of Cooperatives about the failure to elect new statutory committees. The request was honored by the Ministry of Trade who instructed that a special general meeting be held on 20th May 2021, which is today,” Ahimbisibwe said.
However, the anticipated tumultuous special general meeting on May 20, ended peacefully.
Members re-elected Alfred Ainembabazi as the new chairperson of the board committee deputized by Joselyne Nantale.
“On the position of the chairperson, we’ve not gotten any other member competing therefore I declare Mr. Alfred Ainembabazi Bazira as the dully elected chairperson of Bugamba People’s SACCO,” Magumba announced.
Members also elected the new supervisory and vetting committees.
After elections, Alfred Ainembabazi, the new board chairperson accused Amon Mutabarura, the Rwampara District Commercial Officer of causing financial loss to Bugamba People’s SACCO.
Herbert Ndibarema, another elected member, asked the registrar’s office to punish Mutabarura.
“If it’s possible you should either first discipline this district commercial officer or change him from Rwampara because he was behind everything that happened,” Ndibarema.
The new chairman promised to open a new chapter.
“We shall always tell the truth, I promise to unite you all and do whatever you want. I request you to always ask us and get to know what you don’t understand instead of listening to rumors,” Ainembabazi said.
Christopher Ahimbisibwe, the SACCO General Manager, said, “It is now a new beginning and the fact that I have an operating board we are going to cooperate and make sure that the SACCO stabilizes.”
“Our hope is that by the end of this year, our Bugamba People’s SACCO will have reclaimed all its lost glory,” he said.
Magumba said the errant District Commercial Officer will be summoned for disciplinary action.
Interviewed for comment, Amon Mutabarura blamed his troubles on the political mafias in Rwampara that were protecting the former chairman.
“This SACCO was earlier hijacked by the mafias who were at the apex of loan defaulters. As a commercial officer I cannot support something, which is wrong and the moment you support what is right then culprits will find all the means to fail you,” Mutabarura said.
Asked why he suspended the former chairperson, Mutabarura said he was conniving with management to swindle members’ savings.
“Alfred and Centenary were both political agents and due to the fact that politics was still active and fresh in the minds of members, we wanted to change the whole leadership so that they can get someone who is neutral and able to bring the two sides on board but the old board couldn’t concur with me. And then allegations that I was sidelining with some of the aspirants had to arise,” Mutabarura said.
Mutabarura said he is not worried about being punished by the registrar of cooperatives.
“Cooperatives are usually private sector developments unless I did something irregular like causing financial loss or taking a bribe but with an advisory service people may talk irresponsibly. Bugamba People’s SACCO is one of many cooperatives so I am still a custodian in the district,” he said.
Vicent Nuwagira, the deputy Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Rwampara adds that the politics involved within the SACCO could not cause punishments to their staff.
“Issues of Bugamba People’s SACCO seem political and they wanted to intimidate one of our staff but otherwise Mutabarura is still our staff and he is working. We can’t suspend our staff just because of your chaos in changing leaders to me there was no case to answer” says Nuwagira
In his closing remarks, Magumba representing the registrar of cooperatives’ office said it was unfortunate for their staff but thanked Bugamba People’s SACCO members for exhibiting total discipline and patience to elect a new leadership.
Bugamba People’s SACCO which was formed in 2005, has a total of 1,744 members, with a share capital of shs 270,917,400, total savings of shs 227,102,653 and a loan portfolio of shs 707,917,587.
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