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Minister accused of mistreating staff

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Minister accused of mistreating staff

More than 40 of the affected technical staff petition Parliament and Prime Minister

Minister for Science Technology and Innovation Dr. Monica Musenero

The atmosphere at the Ministry of Science and Technology has turned poisonous and staff have been gripped with anxiety following the appointment of a new minister for the vital docket.

The Staff of the Ministry of Science and Technology have pleaded with the Speaker of Parliament and the Prime Minister to rescue them from what they describe as unfair and unjust treatment by the new Minister Dr. Monica Musenero.

While forming his new-term government, President Yoweri Museveni abolished the relatively new Ministry of Science and Technology, when he retired its Permanent Secretary Obong Obong.

Although the President appointed Dr. Monica Musenero, who was previously his top scientific advisor, as the new Minister for Science and Technology, he ordered that she would operate under the President’s Office.

Since then, there have been attempts including a request to Parliament to allow the budget of the Ministry of Science to be moved to State House.

On the contrary, there has not been any effort to formally dissolve the former ministry, but instead staff have been sidelined and maligned as incompetent.

The behaviour of the new Minister, according to the Petition and people knowledgeable about the embarrassing dispute, points to a serious breach of the Constitution, and most of the employment related laws including Uganda’s civil service regulations.

Besides, the development threatens to undermine the image and relationship of the ministry and it’s various stakeholders.

In a petition signed by 44 technical staff members of the Ministry of STI, the angry civil servants say they have been denied entry into their offices, in addition to being denied salaries for two months now.

Besides not receiving pay, the staff have complained of a state of uncertainty about their job security brought about by lack of communication from the Minister since she took office and obstruction by State House security personnel.

Below is an extract from the Petition detailing the numerous grievances the staff have sent to the Speaker and Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja

Lack of a transition roadmap

Following the President’s Directive to transfer the Ministry to the Office of the President, there has been no proper transition roadmap developed and lack of engagement of the stakeholders. This has created unnecessary delays, mishandling and anxiety in the entire process negatively affecting the staff of the ministry.

Denial of Staff Salary

With no justification, we the staff at the MoSTI, have gone two months (July and August, 2021) without salary and no formal communication has been made as to why our salaries are not being paid. This contravenes section B-a (9) of the Public Service Standing Orders of 2010 which stipulates that salaries of public officers shall be paid monthly by the 28th of every month. We painfully lost one of our staff last week who suffered in the hospital and his family couldn’t afford to pay the medical bills.

Locking staff out of office

On Monday 16th August 2021, MoSTI staff were verbally informed by AIP Omoding, Head of Security at MoSTI and Mr. Andima Oyo Alfred the MoSTI Undersecretary that on instruction of the Hon, Minister, they had been directed by SFC Capt. Matembele that staff were not allowed to access their offices.

Indeed on Tuesday 17, August 2021 everyone who turned up at Office was denied access to office premises to date. This again is another illegal act as public office are created by a resolution of Cabinet or Act of Parliament as such a public office can only be closed with approval of relevant authority. Now we cannot guarantee the safety of government and personal property in our offices.

Blocking of STI Sector Approved funds FY 2021/22

In her letter dated 14 July 2021 captioned “Request to Halt Transfer and Expenditure of Funds for FY2021/2022 for Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation” the Hon Minister of STI requested for the Ministry of Finance to halt the transfer and expenditure of funds of MoSTI, contrary to the Public Finance Management Act.

Withdrawing Benefits from entitled staff

Staff were instructed to surrender government vehicles which had been allocated to them to facilitate their official operations. No reasonable justification was given to them.

Alleged incompetence of MoSTI

The Hon. Minister’s only interaction to some technical staff was through a one hour zoom meeting which took place in July 2021. She grouped staff randomly into give groups of average 10 staff each but only managed to interact with four groups. During these meetings she asked staff only three questions.

1 What went well over the years, What did not go well and Suggestions on what can be done better. Despite this seemingly positive interaction, staff were shocked to learn of the allegation that the Hon. Minister found all of them incompetent and not worth working with in the new dispensation.

Applying Duress on Staff to provide information

Staff at MoSTI have been variously compelled to provide all policy documents, strategies and information including soft copies thereof to the Hon. Minister and her team at Preside. In many instances the officers from Preside call staff at MoSTI directly demanding for government information of their interest. The approach contravenes section 91 and 92 of the Penal code Act.

The aggrieved staff have asked the Ministry of Public service to implement a transition roadmap based on relevant laws and procedures in order to ensure smooth transition.

Efforts by The Sunrise to reach the Minister were futile as her known telephone was not going through.

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