UNATU leadership split over secretary general

UNATU leadership split over secretary general
Uganda National Teacher's Union (UNATU) members at a past Annual Delegates' Conference (ADC). Courtesy Photo.

There is a sharp disagreement between the leadership of Uganda National Teacher’s Union (UNATU) following the expiry of the contract of the Union General Secretary, James Tweheyo. Tweheyo’s five-year contract expired on October 16th this month. However, the union leadership is divided on whether or not to renew Tweheyo’s contract since the UNATU constitution allows him to serve for a second term.

Zadock Tumuhimbise, the UNATU national chairperson, says the Standing Committee of the union reviewed Tweheyo’s performance and resolved not to renew his contract for alleged failure to serve to their expectations. According to Tumuhimbise, the Committee resolved that Tweheyo hands over office at the expiry of his contract pending the appointment of a new Secretary General, adding that the decision was binding on the UNATU National Executive Committee.

However, a section of the National Executive Committee (NEC) members led by the Josephine Nabuyungo, the UNATU National Vice Chairperson has since declined to approve the decision, saying it was illogical. The group convened a special NEC meeting that quashed the decision and accordingly gave Tweheyo another five year contract.

According to Nabuyungo, caucused with only seven out of the 31 members of the UNATU National Executive Committee and resolved not to renew Tweheyo’s contract without giving him without giving him a fair hearing. Nabuyongo says they resolved to retain Tweheyo based on his performance record, which has seen teachers realize many achievements during his tenure.

Musa Kiganda, the Representative of Busoga on the UNATU National Executive Committee, says they are ready to counteract any attempts to throw Tweheyo out of office unlawfully. Kiganda argues that the UNATU Standing Committee is inferior compared to National Executive Committee, which is mandated to examine any administrative disputes, arguing that Tumuhimbise violated regulations in the Union’s human resource manual that allows for a fair hearing.

He says that they have also established that Tumihimbise has repeatedly dodged endorsing Tweheyo’s quarterly performance appraisal forms even when there is evidence that they were being presented to him. He says they will not let the Union to operate on the whims of selfish individuals, adding that should the current misunderstandings result in any legal suits, Tumuhimbise and his group will be held liable.

Tweheyo told this publication on Thursday morning on phone from Kampala that he was in his office at the union secretariat and slammed the resolution that threw him out. However, the latest correspondence from Tumuhimbise to all regional representatives and branch leaders cautions them against dealing with Tweheyo on administrative matters of the Union.

Barbra Nabiddo, the Masaka UNATU Regional Representative acknowledges receipt of the communication but vows to disregard it, saying it is based on selfish grounds. Asked about the likely cause of the standoff, Nabiddo claims it has its roots in the previous UNATU polls where Tweheyo declined to support Tumuhimbise’s bid for the National Chairperson’s slot despite hailing from the same district.