Bamuturaki grilled over foreign trips

The Uganda Airlines chief executive officer, Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki (right), appears before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) at Parliament on September 13, 2022. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The investigations into the operations as raised in the 2020/2021 Auditor General Report will continue today with Ms Bamuturaki expected to return with all documentation as requested by the committee.

The Uganda Airlines chief executive officer (CEO), Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki, yesterday appeared before the accountability committee of Parliament to account for  $12,750 (more than Shs48 million) advanced to her to facilitate her trips abroad. 

Evidence before the  Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) shows that the CEO was meant to visit 10 destinations to assess the work being done to promote the airline in the areas but some of the trips did not take place.

According to documents presented before the committee, the Ministry of Works and Transport cleared Ms Bamuturaki, who was then the acting CEO of the airline, to travel to Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Juba, Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Mogadishu, and Burundi between June 28 and July 30, 2021.

“Ms Jenifer Bamunturaki, Ag CEO, Uganda Airlines, is cleared to travel to the above stations from June 28 to July 30, 2021 to hold meetings to prepare stations regarding sales and marketing and to go through their marketing strategies,” the Ministry of Works told Uganda Airlines management in a June 28 letter, the same day the said trips were meant to commence.

Ms Bamuturaki was scheduled to spend three days at each of the locations. 
The committee chairperson, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, tasked Ms Bamuturaki to table evidence that she travelled to the said destinations.

However, Ms Bamuturaki said she was fully aware of the details under scrutiny but declined to respond.
“We had prepared for [questions about the] Financial Year 2020/2021 [Auditor General] report. What has been brought up, I will respond in writing and give those details,” Ms Bamuturaki said.

This, however, triggered an uproar among MPs.
“Except if you want to say this inquiry is useless because we would have written to you and say write back to us. We have that option. But we call you here because we want a verbal response,” Mr Ssenyonyi said.

Ms Bamuturaki then revealed that she had travelled to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and Kilimanjaro.
However, the lawmakers asserted that Ms Bamuturaki was ‘despising’ the committee and their work.

“Before the auditor’s report came to us, we never came to you to look for you. Please, stop being arrogant,” Mr Hashim Sulaiman, the MP for Nebbi Municipality, said. 
Shs788m invoice

Ms Bamuturaki was also tasked to explain how the management of Uganda Airlines splashed Shs788 million on 600 guests that witnessed the arrival of the first CRJ900 Bombardier aircraft.

This came to light last week as the committee interfaced with the former board chairperson of the airline, Mr Perez Ahabwe.

Ms Bamuturaki asked the director in charge of finance at Uganda Airlines, Mr Paul Turacayisenga, to respond to the matter.

Mr Turacayisenga acknowledged that the invoice had been inflated and requested to be allowed time to file the said details.

“The expenditure you mentioned was on a higher side. And when we had similar and subsequent events, we negotiated it lower. So I think the other one was the first of its kind,” he said

Name woes
Ms Bamuturaki was also given seven days to iron out the inconsistencies around her names. 

A month ago, the committee learnt that the CEO had through a deed poll changed her name from Jenifer Bamuturaki Musiime to Jenifer Arnold Lenkai. 

She has persistently told MPs that she abandoned the contents of the said deed poll to retain her name Jenifer Bamuturaki.

“I am in a dilemma; I am wondering who I am dealing with here. That is why I am advising her to put her name issues right. I don’t care what you want to be called, but let it be legally put,” Mr Ssenyonyi said.

The investigations into the operations as raised in the 2020/2021 Auditor General Report will continue today with Ms Bamuturaki expected to return with all documentation as requested by the committee.