Coffee farmers under Bugisu Cooperative Union – BCU are accusing government of politicizing the management of their union.
It follows a decision by the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM to front two candidates ahead of the BCU board elections on Friday.
They are Charles Walimbwa Peke, the incumbent Manafwa district LC V chairperson and James Netalisire, a businessman in Mbale also husband to Sarah Netalisire, the Manafwa district woman MP. The duo is scheduled to face off with Nandala Mafabi, the incumbent BCU board chairperson, whose term was interrupted after government forcefully took over the union in 2010.
It came after a group of former BCU board members accused the Nathan Nandala Mafabi led board of alleged mismanagement, financial impropriety and abuse of office. Mohamood Masaba, the Mbale district NRM treasurer has confirmed the appointment of the two candidates. Masaba claims that they took a decision to be involved in the administration of the biggest farmers union in the region because it has been turbulent during the reign of the Nandala Mafabi led board. However, Damascus Wangolo, a farmers’ representative wonders why government has continued to disturb them over their property.
He says BCU is a private institution belonging to farmers and warns government to stop interfering with their business. He wonders why government would want to bring politics into their business, which they are opposed to as farmers. He says they elected Nandala Mafabi not because he supports FDC but because he is clear minded and developmental. Wangolo says government has already inflicted a lot of pain on the farmers and shouldn’t plan of taking over their union.
Wangolo warns government to be ready for any consequences should it insist on forcefully taking over their property.
John Musila, the outgoing BCU board vice chairperson says it is outrageous for government to drag politics into the farmers’ business. Musila says he is an ardent NRM party member but does not support the idea of bring politics at play in the farmers’ issues.
He says whereas Nandala Mafabi is an opposition leader, he contributed a lot including among others attracting a 4 billion shilling profit margin for the union just during his two years in leadership and purchasing FM radio equipment for the union something he says is not easy. He says they will still elect Nandala back to head the union arguing that all the issues brought against him and his board members were fabricated by government something he says they cannot consider.
Nandala Mafabi says he is not moved by the threats of NRM to throw him out of BCU. He says he is ready for anything and is optimistic that NRM would lose in the election. Mafabi says he wants to serve the union as the son of the area but not because of any political interests.