Government has extended the contract of Mr Cornwell Muleya, the Uganda Airlines chief executive officer, who is currently serving in acting capacity. Mr Muleya, who has been at the helm of Uganda Airlines since September 2019, now has a contract extension of one and half years.
His contract is being extended for the third time. All previous extensions have been between six months and one year. However, the new extension will run for more than a year and will expire in September 2022.
Mr Bageya Waiswa, the Works Ministry permanent secretary, confirmed the extension but noted that although the process to recruit a substantive chief executive officer had taken longer than planned, it was still on course.
“The process of getting a consultancy to help us in the recruitment is taking longer,” he said, adding that the extension had been informed by the need to have stability in leadership of the airline ahead of the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) review.
ICAO is a specialised aviation agency that monitors international air navigation and fosters safety and orderly operation of international air transport. Mr Muleya told Daily Monitor he was “not privy to that information at the moment, so I cannot comment”.
Before the launch of the airline, Mr Muleya had served as a technical adviser with Mr Ephraim Bagenda, an aeronautical engineer, holding as managing director.
However, government, in September 2019 announced the need to recruit a new a chief executive officer, who would be tasked with building a highly competitive airline.
The process, which had been delayed by a number of other factors, was however, further interrupted by Covid-19 last year. However, government, which in March last year said it had resumed the process, noted that although there has been some delays, the search for a new chief executive officer was on course.
“The exercise for the search of the new chief executive officer is still on although it is taking a bit of time,” Mr Waiswa said. Initially, the search had been expected to end within six-months ahead of March last year. Government in January last year had identified Profiles International, a recruitment firm, to lead the search but it was not immediately clear what had happened to that process.
However, earlier, Ministry of Works had told Daily Monitor that Profiles International had to first obtain approval from the Solicitor General before it could sign the contract.
Sources at the Ministry said then the contract had not yet been signed and the process, which had been in the last leg, had been interrupted by Covid-19.
Profiles International had beaten three other companies in the process that the procurement and disposal unit of the Works Ministry had started in January 2020.
MULEYA IS BEST BET
Uganda Airlines, just like other operators, was thrown off balance by Covid-19 and the search for a substantive chief executive officer, which had started in 2019, will now have to wait for at least another one and a half years.
However, some players in the aviation industry have been wondering why government does not appoint Mr Muleya, whose experience in Uganda’s aviation industry dates back to the years at Air Uganda.
Captain Mike Mukula, who has investments and interests in the aviation industry, recently told Daily Monitor that Mr Muleya was one of the best bets government could hold onto to rebuild Uganda Airlines, which had been liquidated in the early 2000s.
However, government has previously said, the search will be open to everyone and Mr Muleya would be free to take part in an open and competitive process.