Uganda Airlines is facing corporate governance problems because the inaugural board of directors and managers lacks experience, the Finance, Planning, and Economic Development Minister, Matia Kasaija (inset) has revealed. PHOTOS/ FILE/COURTESY 

|

We appointed inexperienced board, managers at Uganda Airlines-Kasaija

What you need to know:

  • Kasaija's comments come days after the interdicted board chairman, Pereza Godfrey Ahabwe recommended to Gen. Katumba that he should consider firing the acting CEO, Jenifer Bamuturaki Musiime. Gen Katumba recalled Musiime in April following the suspension of Muleya, nine other managers, and the board.

Uganda Airlines is facing corporate governance problems because the inaugural board of directors and managers lack experience, the Finance, Planning, and Economic Development Minister, Matia Kasaija has revealed.

The government revived the national carrier in 2019 to lower transport costs, boost tourism and business opportunities for Ugandans.

Uganda Airlines currently flies to 10 African destinations, including Nairobi, Bujumbura, Johannesburg, Mogadishu, and one international route- Dubai. According to the business plan, the airline was expected to fly to at least 20 destinations by end of this year, including London, Addis Ababa, Lusaka, Mumbai and Guangzhou, among others to connect Uganda to Europe, the Middle East, West Africa, and Asia.

Now, Kasaija says that the operations of the national carrier have been dogged by mismanagement and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global travels, among other issues. He argues that the two rocky years of the national carrier have largely been as a result of the appointment of the board of directors and managers without experience in the aviation industry.

"Now, you know when you're beginning something you make some mistakes. We made some mistakes. We put people first even before vetting them and they have messed up things, but we're reshaping them...But we also don't blame them much because they didn't have much experience. So, we all plead guilty; me I plead guilty for sure, because we put in a board of people who we thought would do a good job,” he said.

He says the top management led by the second acting chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cornwell Muleya also messed up the airline because they were "silent" when things started going wrong; such as the directors interfering with management issues and trying to run the day-to-day activities of the airline.

"They were new people in the industry so they were bound to make mistakes. The only thing I can blame them for is that they waited until we discovered by ourselves the problem that was taking place. They should have told us about their problem earlier so that we see how to sort it out. Secondly, I can also excuse the management to some extent but also I would blame them for keeping quiet if they saw things not moving very well....Lack of experience is the biggest problem and lack of exposure on how to run an airline. You know it's not like running a laundry company," he argues.

Earlier on, the national carrier collapsed due to corruption and mismanagement, among other issues. The same issues seemed to have re-emerged in the revived airline resulting in the suspension of the board and some top managers. Gen Katumba justified the suspensions of the board to pave way for investigations.

Now, as joint shareholders in the airline, Kasaija says that both the Finance and Works ministries are "working round the clock" to put in place a competent board and iron out problems regarding human resources. 

"But Gen [Edward] Katumba [Works and transport minister] and I are securing that now. You know we're the two shareholders. I want to assure you that give it another four or five months, that place will be back on track. We are going to do training and recruit extra manpower to ensure that our airline does not falter or collapse," Mr Kasija assured.

Kasaija's comments come days after the interdicted board chairman, Pereza Godfrey Ahabwe recommended to Gen. Katumba that he should consider firing the acting CEO, Jenifer Bamuturaki Musiime. Gen Katumba recalled Musiime in April following the suspension of Muleya, nine other managers, and the board.

Musiime had earlier worked at Uganda Airlines as the commercial director but was dismissed over allegations of corruption. In his October 22, 2021 letter, Ahabwe, says that he has additional evidence that implicates Bamuturaki. The letter is titled "Further evidence of conflict of interest, moral turpitude and mismanagement of Uganda Airlines by Ms. Jenifer Bamuturaki Musiime aka Jenifer Arnold Lenkai."

Ahabwe claims that Bamuturaki is masquerading as Jenifer Bamuturaki Musiime because she changed her name on February 13, 2019 to Jenifer Arnold Lenkai.  On April 1, 2019, Uganda Airlines appointed Jenifer Bamuturaki Musiime as the Commercial Director.

He says she duly accepted the appointment under her signature on April 4, 2019. 

"The deliberate move to have a dual identity, one for business and other for formal employment as her CV indicates, smacks of a person devoid of the high moral standing required of a chief executive officer of an airline," he said.

As a result, he says she "should be relieved of her duties to save the Uganda Airlines image and further damage."

Ahabwe explains that Musiime, as the Commercial Director at the Airline had a conflict of interest in Abbavater Group, a company that was hired to handle events and media services for the airline in 2019.


READ MORE


At the time, Ahabwe says procurement laws were breached because Abbavater was single-sourced by Musiime out of self-interest because he claims one of the company's directors, Mark Odeke, is a pastor at Musiime's church.

He further explains that the company inflated costs for events such as the receiving ceremony for the first two CRJ900 Bombardier aircraft in 2019. At least 600 guests attended the event held at over Shillings 778million, translation Shillings 1.2 million for each guest. Ahabwe says this was "excessive and there was no value for money."

He adds that Musiime also one-time approved payment of an inflated invoice of US$ 232,000 about Shillings 820 million and yet the actual cost was US$ 172,000 about Shillings 608million. He also wants Gen Katumba to look into the revenue the airline is currently making from carrying passengers and cargo to, particularly Dubai.

The airline commenced Dubai flights on October 3. Ahabwe says Dubai passengers are allowed to board with a maximum of 5 pieces of baggage but there is no record of the extra money collected. 

As a result, he accuses the acting CEO of being corrupt, dishonest, and unfit to steer the airline in the right direction. Bamuturaki had not responded to the allegations by the time of filing this report. However, finance minister Kasaija says the shareholders are looking into everything at the airline and will resolve them by mid-2022.


Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.