Uganda Airlines' CEO search that never took off cost govt Shs98.1m

Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki (inset) has since been appointed the substantive Uganda Airlines chief executive officer pending approval of the board. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The Uganda Airlines chief executive officer job was handed to Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki, two days before the applications closed.
  • Ironically, Ms Bamuturaki had herself been forced out of the airline after completing her probation.

Government committed at least Shs98.1m on the search for a substantive Uganda Airlines chief executive officer that never happened.

Details obtained by Monitor indicate that on May 10 government had contracted PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to offer consultancy services for procurement of recruitment for a position of a substantive chief executive officer of Uganda Airlines.

However, the job was last Tuesday handed to Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki, two days ahead of PwC’s July 8 deadline for receiving applications.  

PwC had on June 24, published an advert in which it invited interested persons within and beyond Uganda to apply for the Uganda Airlines chief executive officer job, indicating July 8 as the deadline.

Monitor could not readily establish how many applications PwC had received by the time the job was given out on the instructions of Works Minister Katumba Wamala, who, quoting an April 24 letter from President Museveni, instructed the Uganda Airlines board to implement a directive to appoint Ms Bamuturaki as the substantive chief executive officer.

PwC, citing client confidentiality, declined to comment on the matter, but sources indicated that at least more than 15 applicants had expressed interest in the Uganda Airlines top job. 

Mr Uthman Mayanja, the PwC country senior partner, in an email last week, told Daily Monitor that PwC had “a long-standing policy of declining to comment on clients or the services that we may provide to them”. 

“The purpose of this policy is to protect our independence and the confidentiality of our work, which is critical to the quality of services that we provide … in accordance with this policy, we are unable to respond to your inquiry,” he said.

It is not clear how PwC will proceed now that the board has been instructed to process Ms Bamuturaki’s appointment. 

Mr Waiswa Bageya, the Works Ministry permanent secretary, has since clarified that the contract sum with PwC for the search was Shs98.1m and not Shs890m that he had given to Daily Monitor at the weekend.

Monitor has also established that the contract had only tasked PwC to search for a person to fill the position of chief executive officer and not any other. 

“The appointment of the CEO will now be done by the board up to the final end. We want to engage PwC so that it can appoint other people [senior managers]. There is one for safety, flight operations and others. They were going to handle this together,” Bageya said before clarifying on PwC’s contract terms.  

The search for a Uganda Airlines substantive chief executive officer begun in February 2020, before it was paused for unclear reasons. 

Government had then selected Profiles International to conduct the search but it choose to redo the process last month and instead of advertising bid documents were sent to four firms including  KPMG, Ernst & Young, PwC and another, before  zeroing in on PwC. 

In February, government sacked five Uganda Airlines senior managers and the then acting chief executive officer, Cornwell Muleya, who has since been charged with disobedience of lawful orders after he did not respond to IGG summons investigating his alleged  financial mismanagement, unethical conduct and abuse of office. 

First substantive ceo

Uganda Airlines had, before the appointment of Ms Bamuturaki, never had a substantive chief executive officer since it was launched in 2019. The airline was launched 18 years after it was liquidated, with government appointing Mr Ephraim Bagenda as the acting chief executive officer, before he was replaced and appointed director of engineering and maintenance.

He was replaced by Mr Muleya in October 2019, who himself was replaced by Ms Bamuturaki after months of suspension. 

Ironically, Ms Bamuturaki had herself been forced out of the airline after completing her probation. In a brief to President Museveni, Mr Muleya had accused her of insider trading and incompetence, among others.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that the contract sum regarding search for Uganda Airlines’ CEO is Shs98.1m and not Shs890m that had earlier been provided by Ministry of Works. We take this early opportunity to clarify.

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