Uganda: 130 Science Ministry Staff in Panic Over Restructuring – AllAfrica.com

The fate of at least 130 employees hangs in the balance after the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations was placed under the Office of the President.
Until the latest Cabinet appointments in June, the ministry operated as an independent entity with its own vote and accounting officer. President Museveni, however, moved the ministry to his care with new State House comptroller Jane Karekye and Minister Dr Monica Musenero calling the shots.
Last Thursday, government Chief Whip Thomas Tayebwa informed Parliament that the government would move a motion to transfer the vote of the ministry to State House, effectively ending its independence.
The developments have left the current staff of the ministry in panic, with many not sure whether they will be absorbed into the new docket.
According to the 2021/2022 ministerial policy statement presented to Parliament, the ministry has 128 staff who are on permanent employment. A further two, including the permanent secretary, are on contract. Two of the 128-strong staff were still serving their probation by the time the President made the changes.
Sources at the ministry now say there is a state of suspense that has taken hold. A number of staff this newspaper spoke to say they are sure many will not be recalled to work.
Most government ministries, departments and agencies have been operating at 10 per cent following a presidential directive that sent Uganda into a second lockdown in response to a surge of Covid-19 cases.
At the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations, almost the entire staff were told to remain home, pending further directive on their deployments.
Multiple sources that spoke on condition of anonymity told this newspaper that they don’t know whom to approach to have their concerns addressed. They said they were told by the former permanent secretary, Mr David Omara Obong, to stay home until they receive communication from the government.
Mr Obong, however, could not be reached to either confirm or deny issuing the directive.
An employee said some of the staff may revert to their parent ministries, while others may completely be dropped.
"For example all the accountants may go back to the accountant general’s office under the Ministry of Finance, while those who were picked from the ICT ministry may go back. However, such a communication has not yet been made, so we are not sure whether it will happen," the employee said.
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Another source said: "We want the ministry to come clear on this because we are permanent staff and we cannot just go like that. We were told our salary for this month will be paid by State House, but we have not been officially informed of that so, we don’t know whether we shall get it or not."
State House comptroller Barekye was not readily available to explain the matter. The Public Service standing orders on retrenchments occasioned by retirement or abolition of office make affected parties eligible for pension.
Dr Musenero, the new minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, yesterday confirmed the developments.
She, however, did not pronounce herself on whether all the current staff will be absorbed by her new docket. She added that the transition process is being handled under the existing laws and guidelines. She said as the government merger takes shape, a lot of changes could be spawned.
Both Mr John Mitala, the former head of public service, and Ms Lucy Nakyobe, his successor, were inaccessible by press time.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
The Public Service Standing Orders state that a submission that a public officer should be retired because of abolition of office must be routed through the permanent secretary. The reason for this is that the government does not consider an officer’s position abolished unless it is impossible to offer him or her continued employment in an office of broadly similar duties and on the same pay.
Read the original article on Monitor.
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