An interesting thing happened at St. Francis yesterday. For the first time in more than two years, the Executive Director held an Annual General Meeting (AGM). The AGM is called for in the Constitution of St. Francis in that every year, the clients, other interested parties, and staff gather to review the reports of what happened the previous year and vote on any major decisions. This meeting was also important in that a new Board of Directors would be named. The previous board had been in place for longer than the allotted time – two three year terms – such that many of them had been in place since 2003! The Guest of Honor was the female MP of the District.
The ceremony began with the singing of the Ugandan and Bugandan anthems, followed by a prayer. The previous board officers then gave their reports starting with the Board Chairman. This was followed by the Executive Director and then the Treasurer. There was a procedural vote on whether to accept the reports. Once accepted, the next phase was for the elections. This was interesting (and difficult) process for me to follow. One thing was that it was held mostly in Luganda but I managed to understand the basic gist of the process. So basically, nominations for each position were called for and then the general audience could nominate members. The facilitator for the ceremony was the District Health Officer (DHO) for Buickwe District. The Chairman position fell to a Mr. Patrick Rujumba who was the sole nominee. The Vice Chairperson was between the previous Vice Chairperson, a woman, and another woman, Margaret, who is the Program Director for an NGO – Foundation for Sustainable Development. This turned out to be the only moment that required a ballot vote from the crowd with the winner being Margaret. The other positions included: Representative for Clients, Representative for Disabled Persons, and general board members. The general board members were again nominated by persons from the crowd. Even I nominated a person – a Rwandan person born and raised in Uganda and now is the Executive Director for an NGO in Lugazi. The facilitator indicated that only six members would be selected and with mine and another person’s nominee, it raised the total number to eight. The process for a vote was about to commence when the Executive Director raised his voice and stated that the Constitution did not specify a number for the general board members and he recommended keeping all of them. This was warmly received and all eight were elected.
I was personally excited about the election since it signaled a new focus on developing more fundraising for St. Francis and that the board is now comprised of several members with NGO experience which can be of great help to the Executive Director.