Kampala- The State Minister for Privatisation and Investment, Ms Evelyn Anite, yesterday insisted that the administrator of Uganda Telecom (UTL), Mr Bemanya Twebaze, must leave office despite the Attorney General ruling otherwise.
“My position is final. That man has to go home and there is no debate over that one. I am not going to change my position,” Ms Anite said.
She said Mr Bemanya’s continued presence in office until November 22 when his tenure elapses will inflict more harm than good to government.
After writing twice to the Attorney General William Byaruhanga asking him to apply to court for change of UTL administrator without success, Ms Anite wrote to President Museveni asking him for further guidance on the matter.
The President returned from a four-day visit to China and was expected to chair Cabinet yesterday.
Asked whether she was to table the UTL issues in Cabinet, Ms Anite answered: “Definitely, there has to be a response.”
Mr Bemanya, who is the Registrar General of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), was appointed UTL administrator in May 2017 after the company went into insolvency following the departure of the Libyans who commanded a majority 69 per cent shareholding.
However, when Ms Anite wrote to Mr Byaruhanga to petition court for replacement, his deputy, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, reject her decision and wrote back arguing that the Ministry of Finance does not have power to control UTL operations, adding that any such attempt would legally fail.
Ms Anite accused Mr Rukutana of making an “offside reply” to her prior instructions to file an application in the High Court to have Mr Bemanya removed.
She accused Mr Bemanya of insubordination and lack of transparency by blocking government from accessing the UTL books of accounts for audit.
Ms Anite also Mr Byaruhanga to proceed with the application to court without delay.
“I will be pleased to swear an affidavit to support the application wherein the supporting reasons will be elaborated. I implore you to have the petition filed without delay to assure that the administration of the company progresses without any issues,” she wrote to the Attorney General on June 26.
“The purpose of this letter is to implore you to have the petition to remove the Administrator of Uganda Telecom filed in court without further delay,” she added.
Attorney General responds
Yesterday, Mr Byaruhanga wrote back to the Ministry of Finance confirming his deputy’s earlier position.
He asked the ministry to back off UTL administration and reiterated that the ministry has no control over the company in the current status.
The July 1 letter seen by this newspaper was instead addressed to Ms Anite’s superior, Mr Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance, and copied to the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Secretary to the Treasury and Mr Bemanya and Ms Anite among others.
Quoting Section 174 (1) of the Insolvency Act, which provides that only listed creditors are competent to apply to court to remove the Administrator from Office, Mr Byaruhanga emphasised stated: “The Minister of Finance as a shareholder of UTL has no cannot apply to court to remove the administrator and any such application is bound to fail.”
He said the ministry can only succeed if it requests government parastatals that are UTL creditors to make the application to court.
Mr Byaruhanga said that can only happen if there is evidence that the administrator is not executing his duties in compliance with the Administration Deed, the Insolvency Act or any other law or orders or directions of court.
He also stated that under Article 163 (6) of the Constitution, the Auditor General shall not be under direction or control of any person or authority while performing his functions.
“Given that the Auditor General has already declined to carry out an audit and stated his reasons, it would be contrary to our Constitution to direct him to do otherwise,” Mr Byaruhanga wrote.