State Minister for Cooperatives Frederick Ngobi Gume last week rushed to Bugisu sub-region, to resolve enduring woes among members of the Masaba Cooperative Union(MCU).
Since the beginning of this year, a section of farmers who subscribe to MCU, a coffee farmers’ union based in Bugisu Sub-region have been petitioning the Registrar of cooperatives over what they’ve termed abuse of office, embezzlement of the Union Funds and stripping of its Assets.
Most of the irate members belong to the primary societies of Bichopi, Mafudu, Bunangabo, Lwakhakha, and Makhayi.
They accuse the current board of mismanaging the Union, culminating in the loss of the Union’s assets worth billions of shillings. Some of these assets include; the 1,000 acres of land in Bunambutye – Bulambuli and Lukhonge, Bugema Ginnery, and a prime piece of land on the border town of Lwakhakha.
Also among the accusations is the failure to account for the money received from the government in 2018 as part compensation for the losses suffered by the Union during the NRA bush war, to the tune of Shs.2billion.
Last month, Joseph Wasike, the Union Treasurer, and General Manager Charles Murombo were picked up and taken to Mbale Central Police Station, where they recorded statements. The board chairperson, Eddy Bwayo Wakholowa reportedly remains on the run over the same allegations.
Asked about the progress of the investigations, the Elgon Region police spokesperson John Robert Tukei declined to reveal details but assured theCooperator that the investigation was on course.
He called upon all aggrieved members to come forth with evidence to aid speedy investigations.
Last week, led by a one Moses Wambogo, MCU members told Gume that the Union’s board had failed to perform its oversight function over the Union management, which allowed the Union leadership to abuse members’ affairs unchecked.
“The morale levels of members within the Union are horribly low because we no longer have any sort of trust in the board and its members, individually and collectively. If the ministry does not intervene with specific ultimatums, I am afraid Masaba Cooperative Union will be defunct soon,” Wambogo warned.
The members demanded that the ministry helps organize fresh board elections since the current board had not only failed to deliver but was also nearing its end of the term of office.
Speaking at the meeting held at Makhayi seed secondary school, Gume assured the members that his ministry had constituted a commission of inquiry that would be based on the field for a given period of time, so as to help conduct thorough investigations.
“We strongly believe that the commission will provide us with an informed and comprehensive picture on which to base when making the next decision in regard to Masaba Cooperative Union,” he said.
He promised that his Ministry would ensure that the Union gets a new leadership through an election as soon as the investigation ends.
“My ministry is releasing technical officers to come and conduct elections in those primary societies, after that we are going to have an annual general meeting which will culminate in an election of the top leadership of Masaba Cooperative Union.” He revealed.
Masaba Cooperative Union is one of the three established cooperatives in Mt. Elgon Zone. The others are Bugisu Cooperative Union and Sebei Elgon Cooperative Union. All the three cooperatives majorly deal in Arabica Coffee.