The National Drug Authority (NDA) illegally hired an ‘Executive Director’, a position that is not provided for by law, it emerged Tuesday morning.
ChimpReports has learnt that the NDA board in 2016 invited Donna Kusemererwa and offered her the position of Executive Director on contract of 5 years effective January 5, 2016 to 2021.
Yet, according to confidential records obtained by this investigative website, the position was not advertised as required by the NDA Human Resource Manual.
This move would later spark a firestorm at the authority charged with promoting and protecting public health through the effective regulation of human, animal medicines and health care products.
Realizing that her appointment had met stiff resistance from some staff members, Kusemererwa swiftly created what she called a ‘macro organisation structure’ that saw most of her adversaries’ contracts terminated.
Upon being informed that her contract as ED was illegitimate, the board chairman sought an opinion from the Solicitor General.
In response, the SG cited Section 54 (2) of the National Drug Policy and Authority which provided that the “Secretariat shall be headed by the Secretary to the Drug Authority who shall be appointed by the Drug Authority on terms and conditions that the Drug Authority may determine.”
The SG said the legal implications of changing from Secretary to Executive Director was that the “authority would be amending the Act,” adding, “The office is established by statute and can only be changed by amendment of the Act.”
The SG emphasised that powers of amending the Constitution are vested in the “second arm of government which is Parliament” and that, “the authority would therefore be acting illegally.”
The SG went ahead to clarify that the ED cannot be used instead of Secretary because the Act specifically provides for the latter and that “the title given by the Act should be maintained.”
Despite receiving this letter on June 16, 2016, Kusemererwa’s position has never changed.
“It’s a reign of terror at NDA. Kusemererwa is determined to crush anyone who stands in her way. She has refused to follow the advice of the Solicitor General because no one out there appreciates the situation we are facing at NDA,” said a high ranking source who preferred anonymity so as to speak freely.
Efforts to reach Kusemererwa for comment were futile as her known mobile phone was switched off.
Writing for the SG, Faith Nyamwenge said considering that the person recruited was to perform the duties of the Secretary as set out under the Act, the Authority as the appointing authority under Section 54 (2) of the Act can resolve to amend the contract of the Executive Director to change the title to Secretary.
If this anomaly is not corrected, the taxpayer will lose a staggering Shs 1.8bn as remuneration for the occupant of the ghost ED position.
The ED attracts Shs 30m as monthly gross salary pay. This translates to Shs 360m per year and Shs 1.8bn for the entire five-year contract.
The taxpayer could even lose more as the appointment is being challenged in courts of law.
The occupant of the ghost ED position created by the NDA board is entitled to a chauffeur driven and fueled vehicle, unlimited airtime, leave allowance, medical cover for self, spouse and four dependants, security guarding expenses up to Shs 1.2m, house help and shamba boy up to Shs 300,000 for both, electricity and water expenses up to Shs 250,000 for both.
Other perks include membership to relevant professional bodies, business class ticket for self and spouse once a year and end of year bonus equivalent t one month salary.
The former NDA chairman Dr Sam Zaramba signed the contract handed to Kusemererwa.