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Grief as Cancer Victim Fights to Retain Job at National Drug Authority

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Infighting and power struggles continue to undermine the effectiveness of National Drug Authority

A cancer victim is struggling to retain her position at the National Drug Authority (NDA) after being ‘arbitrarily’ kicked out of office, officials told ChimpReports on Tuesday.

Florence Obiocha Nakachwa recently dragged NDA and its Secretary, Donna Kusemererwa to the High Court, challenging the termination of her appointment as Head of Drug Assessment and Registration.

Nakachwa has sought leave to see a doctor managing her cancer condition when she was informed that she could not retain her job.

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ChimpReports has learned that on 16 March 2017, Kusemererwa reviewed and appraised the personal performance of Nakachwa without inviting her to respond to any queries and without recourse to rules of natural justice, terminated the latter’s contract.

On 17 March 2017, Kusemererwa wrote to Nakachwa: “The 6th Authority at its sitting on i6 March 2017 resolved that they were unable to confirm you in the position of Head Drug Assessment and Registration.”

She added: “I note that you were scheduled to take a week off effective 20 March 2017 to meet your doctor. You also have not taken any annual leave since you were appointed Head of Drug Assessment and Registration. Please consult with the Head Human Resource and Administration to formalize these absences at the end of which your engagement with NDA as head of Drug Assessment and Registration will cease.”

Sources at NDA say they were “disturbed” by the development.

“It’s was a painful story for most of us who have worked with Nakachwa,” recounted a source, adding, “It’s inhumane.”

Amid pressure from workmates, Kusemererwa on May 2, 2017 wrote to Nakachwa, urging her to return to work albeit temporarily.

“I am pleased to offer you a temporary assignment within the Drug Assessment and Registration Department pending the conclusion of the operationalisation of the organogram,” Kusemerwa wrote to Nakachwa.

It is alleged Kusemererwa, in connivance with the board, has been quietly purging NDA staff opposed to her work methods.

Kusemererwa’s appointment as Executive Director to NDA is also being challenged in court on grounds that the position is “non-existing” and that it contravenes Section 54 (2) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act Cap 206.

Realising that her job was in danger, Nakachwa rushed to the High Court which has since issued an injunction blocking her removal from office.

The Court registrar issued an interim order quashing Kusemererwa’s letters terminating Nakachwa’s contract of employment “until the final disposal of the main application for judicial review.”

NDA was also ordered not to appoint anyone else to serve in the position being held by Nakachwa.

NDA said those who lost their jobs were victims of the authority’s new Macro Organisation Structure.

Court decided that the new structure should not be operationalised until the main suit is disposed of.

NDA was further instructed not to prohibit Nakacwa from executing his assignments and that she should be paid full remuneration and benefits.

The NDA has been in turmoil in recent months, with internal power struggles and bickering undermining the effectiveness of the drug authority.

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