A whistleblower has petitioned parliament’s committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) over alleged anomalies in the recruitment of staff at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA). The whistleblower alleges that the headhunting process is unfair and discriminative.
COSASE chairperson Mubarak Munyagwa says that his committee has information that a number of individuals were recruited in key positions under the guise of headhunting, even when they are not adequately experienced.
The practice of headhunting, also known as executive search in human resource management, involves identifying highly-skilled and hard-to-find candidates to fill jobs in an organization. It is usually undertaken to enable the organization to find key people at the management and specialist level with very specific personal and professional skills.
But according to Munyagwa, a number of people obtained specialist jobs at UNRA, even when they did not have any specialities that would give them a niche to take up the jobs.
Speaking during an interface with a team of UNRA officials at parliament, Munyagwa said many of the head-hunted staff are inexperienced while others have a dented record from previous employment engagements.
"Actually that in that headhunting, you have ended up filling UNRA with inexperienced staff, you got people who were laid off at district level, very inexperienced staff but you go on headhunting relatives, friends and you just go on filling them in positions. There is actually a petition that I’m forwarding to the speaker over that - mostly when it comes to engineers." Munyagwa said.
UNRA’s director human resource Jennifer Kaggwa defended the practice of headhunting for staff as a normal recruitment procedure and noted that in all instances of headhunting approval from the UNRA board is sought. But she was tasked to explain the conditions that warrant headhunting.
"In all cases where we were headhunting, we sought approval from the board…we headhunt for senior management positions, for critical skills and other areas where you need. Sometimes it is not the skills that are the issue, but some behavioral competences that you might need." she said.
Committee members equally tasked the authority officials to explain what would encourage the authority to headhunt officers who were previously interdicted from Local Governments. According to COSASE vice chairperson Ibrahim Kasozi, it would be irregular for an institution to headhunt unqualified people leaving qualified Ugandans out.
".What pushes you to headhunt for someone who has been interdicted. You headhunt a district officer who has embezzled money somewhere and you headhunt such a person and bring to UNRA. You are supposed to give a free choice to Ugandans to apply and compete freely for jobs. But if the jobs are given to a few because the executive director knows me that is why many are complaining." said Kasozi.
The committee asked UNRA executive director Allen Kagina to present a comprehensive report on staff recruitment and restructuring process for review, as part of the investigation.