Media revelation  see axe fall on UETCL board

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) chairman Board of Directors, Mr Peter Ucanda, has resigned from his job. Photo | Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • Sunday Monitor established that UETCL is currently operating without a substantial board of directors after all the UETCL Board members were dismissed on April 12. Board members sent packing include; Mr Peter Ucanda (chairman), Mr Chris Mugisha, Ms Sarah Irumba, Mr Richard Santo Apire, Ms Grace Achieng Obura, and Mr  Abdon Atwine.

The Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development has reportedly booted the Uganda Electricity  Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) Board of Directors over the alleged rot at the energy transmitter.

Sunday Monitor established that UETCL is currently operating without a substantial board of directors after all the UETCL Board members were dismissed on April 12. Board members sent packing include; Mr Peter Ucanda (chairman), Mr Chris Mugisha, Ms Sarah Irumba, Mr Richard Santo Apire, Ms Grace Achieng Obura, and Mr  Abdon Atwine.

“Only one member—Ms Cecelia Menya—has been maintained in the new board, but she’s also being probed,” a source who asked for anonymity, said.

While a new board of directors has been instituted to run the company, inside sources, at UETCL say the new members are yet to assume office.

Several businesses of the company that require Board consultation and approval have consequently been frozen. Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, the Secretary to the Treasury, told Sunday Monitor on Friday that the ministry is “in the process of putting a new board.”

Mr Ggoobi also revealed that several members like “the board chairman [Mr Peter Ucanda] and some members” resigned, creating a void that needed to be filled.

Although Mr Ggoobi could not confirm the list, Sunday Monitor understands the members of the new board are Mr Kwame Ejalu Ejuku (chairperson), Achilo Shano Loka (member), Mr  Innocent Yokutum (member), Ms Sylvia Nabatanzi Muhebwa, Mr Julius Mukooli (from the Finance ministry) and Ms Menya—the solitary survivor from the old board.

Bowing out

Mr Ucanda, the immediate past board chairman, called it quits in early March after bad press made his position at the energy transmitter untenable. In a March 21 letter to the Finance, Energy, and Privatisation and Investment ministries, Mr Ucanda indicated that he was stepping down to “save his image from being tainted by such media reports.”

He added: “I am constrained to do this because of the manner in which the investigations into the causes of disagreements into the affairs of the board were conducted, which has resulted in several and diverse false reports appearing in the press. This does not give me confidence.”

Another source at the Finance ministry told Sunday Monitor that the decision to fire the board members was precipitated by a string of media reports and investigations that exposed fraud and abuse of office at the company.

“At first, those board members were subjected to several meetings and questioning by the ministries of Energy and Finance including the parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources over the same reports before they got relieved,” the source said.

On March 17, lawmakers on the Committee of Environment and Natural Resources probed the board members over allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

The Committee chairperson, Mr  Emmanuel Otaala, expressed concern about the mismanagement of the company resulting from a divided board of directors.

“The media has painted a picture of fusion in roles between a part of the board and management leading to misappropriation of resources, double payment of project affected persons and payment of people holding land titles in wetlands,’’ he said before asking to be furnished with a report on the controversial payment of Shs28 billion to project affected persons on the Namanve-Luzira land.

Ms Evelyn Anite, the junior Finance minister (Privatisation and Investment) who led the delegation from UETCL, pledged to resolve the impasse at the company.

Between February 27 and March 19, Saturday and Sunday Monitor newspapers published three special reports. They were the product of an intensive investigation into alleged institutional mismanagement by the company’s top organ, the board of directors.

On February 27, the Sunday Monitor ran a special report on how politics, nepotism, corruption and maladministration had cast a shadow over activities at the power transmission company.

Sunday Monitor, on March 6, published a special report on how allegations of fraud, witch-hunt, and blackmail impaired the energy transmitter’s operations in the past decades.

The last special report was carried in Saturday Monitor on March 19, and exposed how conniving officials left UETCL Shs564 billion poorer. The report illuminated connivance between UETCL project staff and project-affected people to defraud the energy transmitter via bogus compensation claims.

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