Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative Enterprise elects new board

MBALE April 13, 2024 – The Delegates from 10 primary societies under Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative Enterprise Limited [GCCE] in Mbale City have elected a new Board of Directors, even though it comprises members of the previous board established in 2017.

The new board, whose members were elected unopposed, was given a five-year term during the annual general meeting [AGM] which took place at the Union offices in Industrial Division, Mbale City.

GCCE was formed by coffee farmers from Bugisu Sub-region in 2003, even though it had been a project under Bugisu Cooperative Union [BCU], exporting specialty/organic coffee.

Moses Maberi, the Chairperson of the Vetting Committee at GCCE during AGM meeting proposed the following names that were seconded and passed by farmers.

The members who were elected unopposed are; Patrick Waniaye, the board Chairperson from Busamaga Cooperative Primary Society, Oliver Kishelo the Vice-chairperson, and Edward Magombe treasurer.

Other board members are; Difasi Wabuya, Gorret Nandala, Mary Nasasa, Richard Masolo, George Kigai, and Charles Nasuya.

Maberi also conducted another election where farmers elected Stephen Kundu as the Chairperson Supervision Committee.

He said the board members all met the minimum qualifications like being a member of a cooperative society, paying membership fees and patronising their coffee in the union as the law requires.

Leonard Kavundira, from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperative [MTIC] who presided over the special general meeting for GCCE on April 9, 2024, said the election of the new board was free and fair.

“You have shown the entire world that the union [GCCE] is still surviving and ready to resume work of collecting coffee from farmers and selling it at a good price as it used to do,” Kavundira said.

He urged framers to hold the new GCCE board to be accountable and urged the members to sell their coffee to the cooperative to enable them to grow.

Patrick Waniaye, the chairperson who retained his seat urged those farmers who are continuing with petitions to come and work with them to develop GCCE.

He promised to change the face of GCCE and make it resume selling farmers’ coffee abroad as it used to do before the end of his new term of office.

On his part, John Musila, the Vice Chairperson of BCU said GCCE ran bankrupt and collapsed with all its primary societies before being bailed out by BCU in 2018 with over Shs 400 million.

Musila who is also the Member of Parliament representing Bubulo East Constituency in Namisindwa district, said during GCCE’s AGM that the purpose of bailing out the specialty coffee exporter was to keep it in business.

He said the bail-out revived GCCE and it started exporting farmers’ coffee again, adding that the new leadership was put in place according to the laws that govern the country’s cooperatives sector.

According to him, there are some people who are not even farmers aiming to fail GCCE by petitioning MTIC and other offices with false information against its board.

Those opposes to new GCCE leaderhip are Nimrod Wambete [delegate-Konokoyi Growers Cooperative Society], John Wamulugwa [delegate- Demkata Growers Cooperative Society], Justine Chepkwurui [delegate- Sipi Organic Coop, Rebecca Kituyi [delegate- Buwambingwa Growers Society, and Adonia Gimanga [delegate-Bunabude Growers Society].

Musila further urged MTIC not to give them attention.

For his part, Mbale Resident City Commissioner, Rex Aachilla, urged the new board not to be involved in corruption such that they serve farmers better.

The cooperative had taken about seven years without election.

In February this year, a section of GCCE ousted the existing board led by Patrick Waniaye, accusing him and other board members of the failure to convene mandatory AGMs, failure to present audited accounts, and adequately represent the interests of the cooperative’s members.

The former board was also accused of mismanagement of assets of GCCE, as well as the alleged diversion of a substantial government bailout amounting to Shs 9.59 billion to BCU under questionable circumstances. BCU leadership has dismissed the allegation of receiving the money.

One delegate, Wilson Wanda from the Lwamboko Cooperative Society, expressed the sentiments shared by many farmers who had attempted to engage with the board members 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.

GCCE is a cooperative of 7,660 smallholder expert coffee farmers who live and farm on the misty ridges and in the lush upland valleys of Mt. Elgon.

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