Gov’t Urged to Re-evaluate Absorption of Former REA Staff

Government has been urged to re-evaluate the absorption process of former Rural Electrification Agency (REA) staff into the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD).

This call emerged during the plenary sitting on Tuesday, 02 April 2024 when the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources unveiled discrepancies in the absorption and compensation of the employees into the ministry.

The report, stemming from a petition filed against the alleged irregular recruitment and mistreatment of former REA staff, sheds light on significant shortcomings in the implementation of the merging and mainstreaming process of government agencies initiated in February 2021.

Key findings highlighted in the report include the failure to absorb all 192 former REA staff into the Ministry of Energy as promised.

The committee was informed by the Ministry of Energy that there were 96 staff with contracts with the Government of Uganda of which 61 were recommended for different positions, while four positions were declared redundant and 32 staff were not recommended based on different grounds, including failure to meet basic requirements, age for recruitment into public service and availability of vacancies.
According to Tororo South County Member of Parliament, Hon. Fredrick Angura who presented the report on behalf of the committee, the validation committee tasked with assessing staff for absorption lacked adequate representation from former REA employees, disadvantaging them in the process.
Additionally, concerns were raised over the termination of staff contracts without proper justification and inadequate compensation provided to terminated employees.
"The process has raised serious concerns regarding the treatment of former REA staff. Many of them have not been absorbed into MEMD as promised, nor have they been fully compensated in accordance with their terms of engagement," he noted.

AUDIO Angura

The committee recommended that the Ministries of Energy and Mineral Development and Finance and Economic Development expedite the payment of all retirement and pending benefits, including NSSF contributions, ‘golden handshakes’, severance allowances, certificates of service, transport for self, baggage, immediate family, and any other outstanding benefits to all terminated staff.

“These payments should be made within three months from the time of adoption of this report, as stipulated in the REA Human Resource Manual and General Contractual Conditions,” the report states in part.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa advised that Parliament should not delve deeply into petition issues, as most are best handled by the Judiciary.

However, the Minister of State for Energy, Hon. Sidronius Opolot countered by stating that 87 per cent of the REA staff were absorbed, and only 13 per cent were not due to lack of required qualifications adding that, all staff who were not absorbed received their due benefits.

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi expressed concerns over stalled projects and employee complaints due to the rationalisation of REA.
He called for clarity on the future direction of projects and employee welfare.