Set up open inquiry into affairs of UTL

Monday August 5 2019

Offices.  The Uganda Telecom Limited business

Offices. The Uganda Telecom Limited business centre in Kampala. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Editor

An open war is brewing between ministers and other government officials over Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL). Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana and Ms Evelyn Anite, the State minister in charge of Investment at the ministry of Finance, started it all.

The President intervened with guidance on how the officials should proceed with the matter, but the situation is only getting worse. The spat is now between Ms Anite and Mr Keith Muhakanizi, the permanent secretary of the ministry of Finance.

Ms Anite insists that an audit into the affairs of UTL, which she instituted on the orders of the President, will go on despite Mr Muhakanizi’s claim that it would be sub judice since Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), one of the entities which UTL owes a lot of money, has gone to court over the matter.

Ms Anite has made a number of allegations in the missives she has written over the matter, alleging connivance between government officials to rob the assets of UTL. It is easy to lose count of how many times Ms Anite has made allegations over the matter.

UTL, formerly part of Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Ltd, is an important company with high value assets. Are these assets still intact or do Ms Anite’s allegations that some of them have been stolen hold water? We have no way of knowing the truth.

As the ministers and officials squabble over the matter, they look to their appointing authority, the President, to deliver the final word. And, of course, we assume that the President has sent out a team or teams to investigate the matter to inform his next move. It would be dangerous to take a final stand on matters of a company of UTL’s magnitude without first studying it thoroughly.

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But a lot of water has flown through the tunnel since this saga started. The best way forward would be for the President to set up a high-powered inquiry, even headed by a judge, to openly thrash out the issues involved and investigate the allegations.

The team should also be tasked to investigate the options available to bring UTL back to life or sell it off or liquidate it, whatever the best option may be. It should also look into the long-standing issue of pensions for hundreds of former employees of UTL, who have for years been wrangling with the management of UTL over the issues, and have been in and out of court.

An open inquest would help to bring the matter to a fair closure.

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