Former staff of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) have petitioned Parliament over what they say were irregularities in recruitment during the transfer of agency to the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development.
The former staff presented their petition to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Tuesday, 28 March 2023.
The former Senior Planning Engineer, Patrick Mutabingwa who led the team said the Energy Ministry flouted statutory instruments guiding the transfer process which required that all REA staff are transferred to the ministry.
Mutabingwa said the ministry deployed a biased recruitment process that knocked out a number of REA staff.
“REA was to be mainstreamed into the Ministry of Energy out of statutory instrument No.29 of 2021 which stated that, ‘on commencement of this instrument, all persons who were employed by REA immediately before the commencement of this instrument shall be transferred to the ministry’,” said Mutabingwa.
He added the ministry instead issued an internal advert which excluded some of the positions under REA.
The petitioners also stated that the required job experience and qualifications were far from those that staff in REA held. “The ministry conducted a biased functional analysis of REA which it submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC). It is due to this, that PSC while defining job requirements, did not consider all academic qualifications, experience and associated job requirements of staff that were under REA,” said Mutabingwa.
The committee also learnt that staffs’ contracts were terminated on short notice and no compensation was effected.
“I was serving on a contract ending on 02 March 2023 but I received my termination letter on 15 October 2022 when REA was closing on 25 October 2022. When we asked for our pay, we were told that they were not sure how many staff would be taken to the ministry and how many would be left out,” said a former REA internal auditor, Ronald Kalema.
Kalema said the mainstreaming process disregarded their terms of contract and the REA human resource manual which provided for termination befits.
He prayed that Parliament pushes the ministry to compensate all staff whose contracts were terminated.
MPs tasked the former staff to adduce evidence to support their petition upon which the committee could hold the ministry liable.
“There is no doubt that these people were terminated outside the terms of the contract. They at least deserved three months’ notice; produce evidence upon which the committee can defend violation of your rights,” said Hon. Eddie Kwizera (NRM, Bukimbiri County).
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Emmanuel Otaala gave the petitioners up to 31 March 2023 to provide documentary evidence to support their allegations.
“Tell us how many positions were eliminated from the new REA structure, how many people were recruited outside REA versus the number of REA staff that were retained. Provide letters of your recruitment, termination and all correspondences you have made,” Otaala said.