MBALE – State Minister for Cooperatives Fredrick Ngobi Gume on Saturday came out in defence of the leadership of Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU) under Mr. Nandala Mafabi and accused a group of petitioners of sabotaging their work.
Since Mr. Mafabi assumed chairmanship of BCU, Uganda’s only surviving cooperative society, about 10 years ago, he has been dragged to court by various petitioners believed to have been backed by government.
But on Saturday, Mr Ngobi urged the petitioners to back off and stop hindering the development of the union.
“These petitioners have a hidden agenda and this endless fighting will kill the Union if they do not stop and support the revival efforts by current leadership. Petitioners are few in number and they will soon get tired of writing the petitions,” he said during a meeting of the Board of Directors at the Union headquarters.
The minister said that with a profit of UGX900 million last year, BCU is on track.
One of the key opponents of the Nandala-led leadership is Mr. John Wamulungwa, the former union vice chairperson. He claims the union is currently “in coma” due to misuse of funds by the Nandala-led board.
“We are still writing petitions because BCU leadership has ignored our issues in the petitions. We need culprits to be brought to justice,” Mr Wamulugwa said.
The BCU Vice-Chairperson, Mr John Musila, said the Union is working to revive their operations
“We are working hard to revival our Union because this is only valuable thing, we have as Bamasaaba. Currently, we have increased the working capital to about UGX15 billion,” he said.
The State Minister for Trade, Mr Michael Werikhe Kafabusa, said the petitioners are supported by some politicians in Bugisu region, who want to bring down the Union for selfish reasons.
“We are not ready to entertain rumours by some people trying to bring the Union down. The petitioners are fighting everyone in the current BCU leadership as well as in the ministry,” Mr Werikhe said.
The Union, which was formed in 1954 remains one of Uganda’s few farmer-owned entities that have survived since the closure of the Uganda Cooperative Bank in 1999.