Ankole bishop did not raise his salary
Posted Sunday, October 6 2013 at 01:00
The March 22, 2011 Finance Committee meeting established that the claim of alleged salary increases was false since the increase for lay staff had been made following their plea to Bishop Emeritus Tibeesigwa in 2009 and thereafter their stipends were raised before Dr Mwesigwa had become bishop.
Following the Sunday Monitor story about Bishop Dr Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa, the alleged illegal increase of his and other staff’s salaries, and the purportedly worsening situation in Ankole Diocese, the Ankole Diocesan office would like to shed light on the misinformation peddled in different media houses about the bishop and the diocese.
The question raised in the story regarding the new salary for the bishop was settled long before Bishop Mwesigwa was consecrated on July 18, 2010.
Following his announcement as bishop-elect of Ankole Diocese in December 2009, Dr Mwesigwa was invited for a retreat at Sky Blue Hotel in Lyantonde during which, among others, the question of his stipend was raised in the meeting attended by Bishop Emeritus George Tibeesigwa, the Rev Canon Sam Tibyasa, then Head of Clergy and Dr Nathan Karema, then head of laity.
While explaining the stipend, Dr Karema who doubled as chairman board of finance said: “According to international labour laws, a person who moves from one job in an organisation to another is not supposed to be paid lower than what he was getting in a previous placement.”
The meeting advised Dr Mwesigwa to bring the payslip of his monthly salary at his previous workplace, Uganda Christian University. After his consecration as Bishop of Ankole Diocese, the technical officer for finance, the diocesan treasurer asked for his payslip which he tendered in. Later, the issue of his payment became a subject of debate but the treasurer, who had a conversation with Dr Karema on the same matter, decided that Dr Mwesigwa would be officially given his previous salary at UCU.
Dr Karema, who chaired the board of finance, followed up the matter with the Provincial Office to determine the right remuneration for the bishop. At the time of becoming bishop, the diocese was facing financial constraints and the bishop could not be paid his salary immediately.
Bishop Mwesigwa was paid his first stipend of Shs3, 054, 113 as per UCU temporary salary scale on September 27, 2010 and the payment was for August. When little monies started coming in the diocese, the diocesan secretary, treasurer and the bishop decided to pay lower cadre staff.
On November 2, 2010, the chairman of board of finance invited the diocesan treasurer, secretary and human resource officer to his home in Kyamugorani, Mbarara Municipality. During a meeting the trio was informed of the findings of Dr Karema about the proposed bishop’s salary. On November 3, 2010, Dr Karema wrote to the bishop and the diocesan secretary detailing the bishop’s remuneration of Shs2,146,500, contrary to the earlier stance at the Lyantonde retreat. This was lower than what was paid to Bishop Emeritus Tibeesigwa.
Earlier in September 2010 Dr Karema had reported to the board of finance that he was still trying to establish the stipend of the bishop. The second payment of stipend to the bishop was in January 2011 when arrears of July, September, November and December were paid since prior to that the money in the diocesan coffers could only cater for salaries of lower cadre staff and other diocesan programmes. The payment of the bishop’s salary by the diocesan treasurer at this stage was based on the temporary UCU salary scale and the communication made at Lyantonde meeting.
On March 22, 2011, Dr Karema wrote to the diocesan secretary complaining about illegal increases of staff stipend without passing through the finance committee and this complaint included the bishop’s stipend.
Surprisingly, on the same day, Dr Karema wrote to the diocesan secretary apologising for having miscalculated the bishop’s stipend in his November 2, 2010 letter when he suggested Shs2, 146, 500.
He said he had forgotten to multiply the bishop’s stipend by a factor of three as the case had been for all diocesan workers when their stipends were increased earlier. Dr Karema himself communicated the new salary of Shs3, 225, 450 per month for the bishop and recommended that it be taken to the Finance Committee for debate and approval.
The following day on March 23, 2011, the Finance Committee approved the Shs3, 225, 450 salary, which became effective on March 23, 2011, nine months after the bishop had assumed office. The bishop did not claim his salary arrears which he had been denied in error. The March 22, 2011 Finance Committee meeting established that the claim of alleged salary increases was false since the increase for lay staff had been made following their plea to Bishop Emeritus Tibeesigwa in 2009 and thereafter their stipends were raised before Dr Mwesigwa had become bishop.
The diocesan treasurer and diocesan secretary were, like the bishop, new in their positions and were given a top-up allowance added to their previous scales. It is therefore important to note that if the diocesan treasurer had not paid the temporary UCU scale stipend, the bishop would not have received any money for his and his family’s upkeep until the Finance Committee finally met and agreed on the bishop’s stipend on March 22, 2011.
The allegation that the bishop increased his salary is therefore false in view of the foregoing.
The Sunday Monitor story on the relationship between Dr Karema and the diocese with regard to divorce of his former wife Connie Karema and being stripped of the title of canon is a matter before court and the diocese is reluctant to discuss it.
However, the diocese would like to inform Christians and the general public that although Dr Karema’s issue is contentious, it has not in any way affected the operations and harmony of the diocese including pastoral visits, development projects and others like the roofing of St James Cathedral at Shs103m, raising of more than Shs100m to expand Mbarara Church Community building, buying shares worth Shs100m in the Kampala Church House project, raising of about Shs400m to construct a bishop’s house and several others.
The writer is the Ankole Diocese secretary,