Govt on the spot over canceling 100 jobs

Thursday February 23 2012

By Chris Obore

More than 100 jobs put for grabs at a government agency have caused waves with reports showing that they had earlier been given away but later withdrawn from holders before their contracts expired.
Recently, National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITAU) advertised 112 positions for District Information Technology Officers (Dito).

However, 91 of the jobs had been given out just before the last national elections. The job holders, who have since been sacked by NITAU, have petitioned Parliament to intervene, saying they have lost jobs unfairly.
They also want Parliament to “halt NITAU’s new Dito recruitment exercise that is going on”, saying it is “full of corruption, favouritism, influence peddling and nepotism”.

But NITAU’s spokesperson Charlotte Ampaire yesterday said the contracts had a clause that stated that they could be terminated and holders compensated.
“They were recruited by the ICT ministry but we advertised the positions and they were free to apply afresh,” she said, adding that earlier, the jobs were not put up for grabs in open market.

But in a letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the petitioners argue that: “We as former Ditos were recruited by NITAU after complying with the adverts they carried out both internally and externally.”

Daily Monitor has seen some appointment letters signed by the then acting executive director of NITAU, Mr Andrew Lutwama. The petition further reads: “We underwent vigorous training by Muhlbaur high tech which trained us to handle both administrative and operator levels for the National ID project.

“We were the seconded and deployed by the Electoral Commission which was in charge of the first phase of National ID Registration also known as 2010 Biometric Voters registration exercise.

Senior officials at NITAU, speaking on confidentiality terms, said the contracts were cancelled because the initial recruitment was heavily influenced by political actors who recommended “their own people.”

Some Ditos have also confided in this newspaper, saying some of their colleagues indeed had no IT skills but were recruited “to facilitate data entry tilted to favour the ruling party” during elections.

During campaigns, opposition politicians raised concerns that IT specialists had been hired to manipulate election results in favour of NRM, a claim that was severally dismissed by the State.
While NITAU officials say they were “under pressure from above” in selecting the best candidates, the sacked Ditos say politics, money and sectarianism influenced the process that has seen some of them not even shortlisted.
They are now faced with the prospect of unemployment for years in a country of 83 percent graduate unemployment and little attention to merit.
They suspect some of them were perceived to be Opposition elements, therefore; had to be weeded out.

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