By: Javier Silas Omagor
The state minister for Cooperatives Frederick Ngobi Gume, has rushed to Bugisu sub region as Masaba Coorperative Union – MCU woes deepen.
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 termed as abuse of office and embezzlement of the Union Funds and Assets.
Most of the irate members are under primary societies of Bichopi, Mafudu, Bunangabo Lwakhakha and Makhayi, and others.
They accuse the current board of mismanaging the Union which has culminated in an awful loose of assets worth billions of shillings like the 1,000 acres of land in Bunambutye – Bulambuli, Lukhonge and Bugema Ginnery and prime land in the border town of Lwakhakha.
Also among the accusations is failure to account for the money received from the government in 2018 as compensation which is assumed to be between 2 billion to 11 billion shillings.
Joseph Wasike, the Union Treasurer and General Manager, Charles Murombo were picked up and taken to Mbale Central Police Station just over a month ago. They were later released on bond upon recording statements while the board chairperson Eddy Bwayo Wakholowa is reportedly on the run over the same allegations labeled against them by the Union members.
This morning, asked how far with the investigations, John Robert Tukei, the Elgon Region police spokesperson, said they have continued with investigations on the matter.
Tukei, is advising concerned Grower’s Cooperative Society to table evidence to aid speedy investigations.
Now, it’s against this chaotic background the Cooperatives State Minister Fredrick Ngobi Gume, accompanied by ministry officials arrived in Mbale town early this week.
Led by Moses Wambogo, the members, told the minister that the Union’s top leadership has significantly failed to run the affairs of the board includingbeing unable to exhibita transparent and accountable stewardship.
“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 ultimate parameters, I am afraid Masaba Cooperative Union will be defunct soon.” Wambogo, worryingly told the much-attended crisis meeting.
The meeting, was held at Makhayi seed secondary school, Busoba Sub county in Mbale district, yesterday.
In addition, the members demanded that the ministry helps organize fresh board elections since the current board had not only failed to deliver but also at the twilight of their finale term of office.
Speaking at the meeting, Minister Ngobi assured farmers that his ministry had constituted a commission which will base in the field (Bugisu Sub region) 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 comprehensive picture to base on when making the next decision in regards to Masaba Cooperative Union.” Ngobi said.
The minister advanced in his promise to ensure that the Union gets its new leadership team through an election, to be organized soon enough.
“At the same time, 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 –MCUis one among the three established cooperatives in Mt. Elgon Zone with Bugisu Cooperative Union –BCU and Sebei Elgon Cooperative Union being the other two.
All the three cooperatives majorly deal in Arabica Coffee.