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Uganda North American Association – UNAA Post Town Hall Report & Way Forward

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Posted November 13, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in UNAA ~ 12,813 views

     

mini-UNAA DALLAS 107

Greetings UNAA Members,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who attended and participated in our first town hall meeting held on Saturday November 2nd 2013.

The town halls present a new engagement model where members can directly interact with and hold their leaders accountable. Gone are the days when UNAA leaders can be elected and expect a free hand while handling the organizations business – we urge members to be vigilant and aggressive in attending these calls and seek clarification and justification on all actions from their leaders.

According to the conference call phone log, we had 121 callers in attendance.

TOWN HALL MEETING MODERATORS.

1.  Council Member Dr. Daniel Kawuma
2.  Council Member Victor Lukandwa

AGENDA FOR THE TOWN HALL WAS:

1.   Violation of the UNAA Constitution.
2.   Dysfunctional relationship among UNAA organs BoT, Council and Executive
3.   Uncertainty surrounding the 2014 San Diego Convention.

COUNCIL MEMBERS ON PANEL.

Mr. Awichu Akwanya, Council Member, South Pacific Region 2
Mr. Ken Ddamba, Council Member, New England Region
Dr. Daniel Kawuma, Council Member, Mid-Atlantic Region 2
Mr. Edriss Kironde, Council member, Rocky Mountains Region
Mr. Victor Lukandwa, Council Member, Great Lakes Region
Ms. Haira Nalugemwa, Council Member, Female Youth, Canada
Mr. Andrew Ssembuusi, Council Member, Mountain Region Canada
Ms. Becky Wamala-Brown, Council Member, South Pacific Region 1

SUMMARY OF POINTS MADE BY COUNCIL MEMBERS:

1. The current standoff in the Council is a result of Mr. Rahim Kabagambe who was not a UNAA member in good standing at the time of his nomination participating in Council affairs.

2. Mr. Rahim Kabagambe’s nomination was invalidated by both the UNAA Electoral Commission and the Board of Trustees. Therefore Rahim is not an elected member of the Council thus the constitutionally mandated removal procedures do not apply to him.

3.  Any council business or votes that Rahim Kabagambe participated in are nullified and illegal. This includes election of council leadership, approval of Hotel contract and confirmation of UNAA Directorship nominees.

4. The UNAA President committed UNAA to the Hyatt La Jolla contract and confirmed directorship nominees illegally by ignoring the lack of quorum on the council and the proper vetting procedures that are constitutionally mandated.

5. The UNAA President has publicly rejected and refused to abide by the rulings made by the UNAA BoT and E.C. This is a coverup for his involvement in sneaking an old friend who had never participated in a single UNAA activity or attended any of the UNAA Conventions including the one in Dallas where he was illegally added to the candidate list.

6. The UNAA President under the influence of Moses Wilson has burdened UNAA members with a close to $200 per night hotel room rate at the 2014 San Diego Convention when there were cheaper alternatives.

7. The Hyatt La Jolla Hotel is too expensive for our members, too far from the airport and far from the heart of downtown San Diego. The chairman of the San Diego Convention Local Organizing Committee was working on a cheaper and convenient hotel deal for members when his efforts were sabotaged and shut down by Moses Wilson and the UNAA President.

8. Council members reaffirmed that they will continue doing UNAA work but will not participate in illegal Council proceedings involving Rahim Kabagambe.

9. Council members resolved to resist any individuals attempting to abuse UNAA, it’s Constitution and any mandated procedures put in place to govern the organization.

Q&A SESSION FEEDBACK:

Question 1: Are the Council 8 fighting the Executive because they want to have leadership positions on the Council?

Answer: NO

Inquiries regarding Rahim Kabagambe’s identity and legitimacy as an elected Council member were initiated by a Council member with the Electoral Commission prior to the finalization of the Council leadership elections. Council members had the right to be suspicious because many didn’t know of Rahim prior to this exercise. With full knowledge of UNAA’s history of election controversies, it was very peculiar to have a newly elected Council member who was not only absent at the UNAA elections in Dallas, but had also never attended a single UNAA event.

It is also important to highlight that E.C and BoT investigations exposed the rot within our Electoral process and we shall not rest until the process is cleaned up. If we had gone about Council business without any inquiries, these flaws would never have been revealed. Our responsibility as Council members is to provide checks and balances and that’s exactly what we are exercising.

Question 2:  How do the Council 8 plan to counter/expunge some of the decisions that might be rammed through the Council without protocol including Budget, selections of next convention city and appointing of new BoT members?

Answer: Given the nature of our organization, we do not have a UNAA police force that can enforce UNAA laws. We expect our leaders to follow protocol and the counsel of the organs that were put in place. When our leaders fail to abide by the UNAA constitution, our job is to point out these violations to the BoT and our members who elected them. The power squarely lies with the people who are the legitimate owners of UNAA.

Counter measures by the Council 8:

(a) Refusal to participate in unlawful procedures in the Council.
(b) Filed petitions with the BoT to highlight executive overreach and abuse of UNAA constitution.
(c) Informed the UNAA treasurer that the contracts presented before him are illegal and were approved without the constitutionally mandated quorum of the UNAA Council.
(d) Held a Town Hall meeting to inform and engage UNAA members.
(e) Council members will employ all avenues to hold the executive accountable, including using federal legal resources to put an injunction on any unconstitutional actions or activities being carried out by the leaders.

Question 3:  How can we redeem UNAA’s constitution from further bleeding since it is clear that the Executive is applying it selectively as they go along?

Answer: Since the power lies squarely with the people, we will need members to attend the AGM where constitutional amendments are made. Members and non members of UNAA must make it their top priority to pay the $50 membership fee or $20 for those renewing before December 31st 2013. (Please insist on getting your receipts emailed to you). Plan to be in San Diego so your voices can be heard at the Annual General Meeting. The only way the constitution can be upheld is if the people remain engaged in the process and reject individuals from taking over their organization.

Question 4: Should a member who has never been a part of UNAA or participated in any activities be elected for leadership positions? Similarly, can we have a new member elected as Council Speaker without any prior knowledge or participation in UNAA activities?

Answer: Though we believe in expanding the UNAA tent and bringing in new and talented individuals, we recommend that the Constitutional Review Committee can address this issue in the future. It is important to have leaders who are seasoned, experienced and deeply understand the Vision, Mission and Constitution of UNAA and what the organization stands for.

The recent crisis in UNAA is a result of systematic ‘Council Packing’ with inexperienced leaders by the UNAA President to achieve favorable rulings. The fact that the UNAA President seconded Rahim Kabagambe as ‘a member in good standing’ to run for a Council position yet he had never participated in any UNAA activities prior to the election demonstrates not only poor judgment on his part but also the need for a constitutional provision to curb such abuses in the future.

Question 5: Should members running for UNAA positions be elected in absentia? Should such rules be changed or completely removed? When should we expect to see a CRC in place?

Answer: This particular question is what led the council 8 to start questioning Mr. Kabagambe’s legitimacy, before uncovering the electoral malpractices that took place. The answer is NO. If you are not allowed to vote in absentia, why should you be elected in absentia?  What will stop unscrupulous individuals from seconding someone in Uganda into a position of power? Unfortunately, like so many other obvious oversights in our constitution, this issue was not addressed, and sure enough, some people have decided to use this loophole to meet their questionable objectives. We hope the CRC will tackle and fix this loophole in the UNAA constitution.
In addition to that, it should be a top priority for the UNAA leadership to put in place a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) as soon as possible.

Question 6: Why did the San Diego Convention Local Organizing Committee (LOC) step aside? Is that the best hotel deal that UNAA could find in San Diego? Who conducted the Hotel search? Did the alternative Hotels have the capacity to host the convention?

Answer: The LOC San Diego’s input towards convention planning was comprised. On the second joint call between the BoT and Council, Mr. Wilson told those on the call to leave convention planning to people like himself who know ‘a thing or two’ about convention planning. He vowed not to allow anybody to interfere with the process he had started. According to Mr. Wilson, of all the hotels he ‘single handedly’ checked out in San Diego, the Hyatt La Jolla had the best deal.

The fact is that initially CM Awichu forwarded a number of hotels with great deals that were both accessible and affordable and most important, they had the capacities and capability of accommodating our members’ needs. The hotel chosen by Moses and the executive was not on the list Awichu presented initially. The regional representative, who is also the LOC chair, continued to persuade the executive to consider the hotels he suggested in vain. The San Diego LOC was effectively shut out of this process by Moses Wilson and Brian’s group.
Awichu and the LOC did not resign but decided to step aside because they could not convince Moses and Brian to re-examine and do proper due diligence on the original list they had proposed. Knowing that his conscience would not allow him to commit members to that kind of money, the LOC Chair stepped aside until the point his team would be left to do their job. The LOC was able during that period to examine some hotels on the list and came up with hotels that proposed better terms than the Hyatt La Jolla. However, the executive ignored these proposals and declared the La Jolla without proper vetting and approval from the Council.

Question 7: Are recordings and minutes available demonstrating that there was debate, quorum and deliberations before UNAA was committed to a Hotel contract and directorship confirmations?

Answer: Council Member Wakou has failed to provide the much needed minutes or recordings as requested by several UNAA members. He continues to be used by the UNAA Executive to rubber stamp contracts and all votes through the Council without regard for protocol. We would also like to emphasize that we do not recognize Mr. Wakou as Speaker of the Council.

Question 8: Who is censoring UNAA members in good standing from unaalist? Are proper procedures being followed?

Answer:  UNAA members in good standing have been dismissed from unaalist without following the mandated guidelines. Timothy Gaburungyi who claims to be ‘volunteering’ for UNAA has unilaterally become the judge and jury and with impunity has removed members off the official communication channel without authority. He apparently is the only person the Executive nominated for Director of Communication-a position that requires an unbiased individual. He has so far suspended two members in good standing. Rev Kamugisha and Ms. Harriet Zaffoni (who has since been allowed back without explanation). Gaburungyi promised to refer these members to a non-existing Disciplinary Committee rather than allow due process, he unilaterally blocked these members. It is unacceptable for UNAA to tolerate such conduct from our leaders who are systematically targeting members with opposing views. We believe that healthy debate is good for our organization and as a result we demand the UNAA Executive to 1). Restrain their volunteer from unreasonably targeting UNAA Members and 2). Reinstate Rev Kamugisha and all blocked members to unaalist. 3). Issue a public apology to the UNAA Membership for these transgressions against our organization.

Question 9: Why can’t the Council 8 wait for the AGM to let members decide if Rahim should be removed from the Council?

Answer: The UNAA Electoral Commission and Board of Trustees both finalized that Mr. Rahim Kabagambe does not belong on the 2013-15 UNAA Council. We accepted the findings and moved on with a composition of 15 Council representatives. However, the UNAA President who was actively involved in recruiting his friend Rahim to the Council doesn’t accept the rulings and stated that he prefers non-Ugandans to come in and resolve the current crisis rather than listen to the UNAA BoT which he believes is biased and acting beyond their constitutional mandate.

The fact that Rahim is not a Council Member implies that there is no need to follow the constitutionally mandated removal process from the Council. The Council 8 shall not participate in any Council proceedings until the UNAA Executive stops interfering in Council affairs using Rahim to rubber stamp their agenda without any deliberations.

Question 10: What is the way forward?

(a) We would like to assure our constituents that we are here to listen and respond to your needs.

(b) We encourage you to pay your membership before the end of 2013 and make your voices heard at the AGM.  If you do not register before the end of year, the constitution does not allow you to contribute during the AGM.

(c) Reach out to your friends, colleagues and members of the community to engage and participate in local and national UNAA events.

(d) Take advantage of the Town Hall meetings, advise us, give us ideas, suggestions and hold us accountable.

(e) All options are still on the table if the UNAA Executive stays on the current course and that includes taking legal action.

(f) We are exploring cheaper hotel accommodation for members at the San Diego Convention who cannot afford one of the most expensive hotel room rates in UNAA Convention history. An alternative hotel is pending further negotiations. We are hoping to have specifics by the next Town Hall meeting.

(g) The date and time of the 2nd UNAA Town Hall meeting will be Saturday Nov 30th 2013 at 8pm Eastern. The conference call in number will be forwarded soon.

Thanks again for attending the first Town Hall meeting and sharing your thoughtful questions and ideas during the call. Please keep them coming at: unaa-town-hall-meeting@googlegroups.com. We look forward to your participation at the next town hall meeting.

Sincerely,

Your UNAA Council Members.


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

One Comment


  1.  
    Tigita

    Mureeba is the problem behind UNAA’s issues.





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