• August 19, 2021
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How Museveni’s letter to investigate corrupt Uganda Airlines bosses disappeared In Thin Air

How Museveni’s letter to investigate corrupt Uganda Airlines bosses disappeared In Thin Air

A letter by President Museveni directing the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to investigate and prosecute Uganda Airlines bosses named in corruption scandals has gone missing.

Daily Monitor reported that the letter disappeared exactly 33 days after President Museveni issued it.

The July 17 letter was addressed to Works minister Gen Katumba Wamala and copied to IGG and other high-ranking government officials.

It targeted senior members of the board and management, accused of mismanagement and engaging in corrupt deals.

In the letter, President Museveni ordered the dissolution of the board of directors of the national carrier following an investigation that revealed widespread corruption, collusion and mismanagement.

The President accused the Uganda Airline officials of extorting money from job applicants, bungling procurement contracts, recruiting relatives, friends and church members across the network, maintaining ghost workers on the airline’s payroll and giving jobs to unqualified pilots at the expense of the safety of passengers.

“All disciplinary, dismissals, termination of contracts, prosecutions and interdiction should be carried out expeditiously and following legal procedures,” the President wrote last month

“All implicated officers should be referred to the IGG for prosecution and possible recovery of public funds,” he added.

At the IGG’s office, officials from the registry combed all the files and could not trace the letter.

The IGG spokesperson, Munira Ali, told the newspaper that the letter had not been delivered to the office as of Tuesday.

“I have crosschecked with our records for the letter on the matter you have requested but we do not have anything up to now, so we do not have any directive as it stands now,” Munira is quoted as saying.

Lindah Nabusayi, the senior presidential secretary, confirmed the directive and said it had been delivered to the office of the IGG.

She wondered where the letter could have ended, but promised to make sure that the IGG gets the directive.

“I don’t know why the letter has not reached, but what I can authoritatively tell you is that the President wrote to the IGG, asking her to investigate the corruption at the Uganda Airlines,” Nabusayi said.

“If they have not received it, it must still be on the way, they will receive it. I can’t explain where the delay originates from because we have a delivery system which takes care of such issues,” she added.

The State Minister for Works, Mr Musa Ecweru, told Daily Monitor that the letter had been delivered and that the IGG could simply be denying receipt.

“Sometimes the IGG wants to work in confidence that is why they don’t want to say that they have received the letter, but what I know is that they have already got the President’s letter,” Ecweru said.

Mafias

Monitor reported that a cabal of mafias is working round the clock to ensure that the letter does not reach the IGG in order to frustrate the investigations.

Ecweru said all those implicated would be summoned to appear before the ministry team and defend themselves against the allegations.

“We are compiling the replies and we are meeting them soon. After we meet them, there are some issues which we will forward to the IGG so that they can proceed with specific instructions,” Ecweru told the newspaper.

The President listed a total of 14 grounds against six board members led by former local government state minister Prerez Ahabwe, Benon Kajuna, Godfrey Ssemugooma, Catherine Asinde Poran, Charles Hamya, and Rehema Mutazindwa.

The board members are accused of incompetence, ignoring security vetting, perpetuating corruption in recruitment, grounding the two airbuses for eight months, collusion with management, mismanaging contracts and micromanaging the institution and sloppiness.

Cornwell Muleya, the chief executive officer (pictured left), was accused of failure to curb corruption of the errant officials such as Paul Turacacysenga (director finance), Joseph Ssebowa (HR manager), Moses Wangalwa (Procurement manager), Deo Nyanzi (sales and marketing manager), Roger Wamara (commercial director), Andrew Tumusiime (senior administration manager), Michael Kaliisa (quality manager), Bruno Oringi (safety manager),Harvey Kalama (ground operationa manager), Kenneth Kiyemba (first officer), Alex Kakooza (first officer) and Juliet Otage Odur (crew training manager), Moses Wangawa and Tom Gidudu both from procurement department whom the President accused of messing up a good project.

Ecweru has given all suspended Uganda Airlines bosses five days to explain and defend themselves against allegations of corruption and other malpractices at the national carrier.

The officials are accused of indulging in corrupt practices such as pocketing bribes and mismanaging the national carrier.

Other accusations include extorting money from job applicants, bungling procurement contracts, recruiting relatives, friends and church members across the network, maintaining ghost workers on the airline’s payroll and giving jobs to unqualified pilots at the expense of the safety of passengers.

Issues for board members

1. The board’s involvement in recruitment leading to corruption.

2. Collusion with management in recruitment of relatives and friends.

3. Flawed procurement and contracts mismanagement.

4. Poor risk analysis, management, implementation and follow-up

5. The board involvement in the day to day operations- micromanagement

6. Certification of Aircraft –inability to supervise the process as the board.

7. Ground handling wastage by the board

8. Aircraft maintenance organisation.

9. The board approval of high costs/ expenses without due diligence due to self-interest.

10. The board‘s lack of a performance score card for Senior Management team.

11. The board’s lack of functional and active committees

12. Ignoring security vetting.

13. Retaining pilots that failed simulator training.

14. Reports of bribery solicitation.

Conclusion by the President:

Uganda National Airlines has a dysfunctional, if not incompetent board. I would require them to defend themselves as to why I shouldn’t dissolve it and relieve it of its duties with immediate effect.   

Management Issues

1. Cornwell Muleya- Chief Executive Officer

-Failure to curb corruption of the errant officials

 2. Delayed operations of the Airbuses into service.

3. Delayed Self Handling project.

4. Gross procurement exceptions.

5. Poor market price assessment on procurements.

6. Lack of transparency in purchases.

7. Retrospective procurements

8. Instances of possible collusion and misuse of public funds.

9. Irregularities in bidding opening.

10. Awarding contracts to non-compliant bidders.

11. Signing contracts against expired bids.

12. Missing contract signatures.

13. Failure to appoint contract managers.

14. Irregular advance payments.

15. Award of contracts without approvals from Solicitor General.

16. Different bidding documents to same bidders in the same procurement process.

17. Receipt of unsolicited bidders.

18. Differential rates.

19. Glaring revenue leakages.

20. Unethical human resource practices in recruitment.

21. Retaining pilots that failed simulator training.

22. Ignoring security vetting

23. Uncoordinated crew training.

24. Lack of transparency in purchases.

Way forward

The president directed the new Minister for Works and Transport to conclude discussions with investors to help Uganda start a national airline as a matter of urgency.

The Uganda Airlines then resurrected, and was officially registered in 2017 and had its maiden flight to Nairobi in August 2018.

 The Uganda Airlines, which was established in May 1976 under the Idi Amin government, was in 2001 liquated over heavy debts that stood at a tune of more than $6m (about Shs21b).

The debt had been reduced from $12m (42.8b).

The liquidation, a painful reality, did not settle in well with a number of stakeholders, who blamed the government for deliberately killing the airline.

Source: Daily Monitor

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