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Why Uganda Airlines bosses face heavy jail terms in looming graft trial

Uganda Airline CEO Cornwell Muleya was suspended after President Museveni received intelligence briefs on his dealings with mafia (PHOTO/Courtesy).

KAMPALA — Following months of investigations at Uganda Airlines about suspended bosses, finally President Museveni has received all he needed and ordered Works and Transport Minister, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, to dissolve the board of directors of the carrier over shocking revelations headed by rampant corruption, collusion, mismanagement to mention but a few.

Media reports indicate that the President has further ordered that after Katumba axing the filthy, corruption stinking board, he should hand them all over to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to be squeezed and cough back the public funds they scooped through bribery and corruption. Failure to do so, Museveni has directed, they should face the full wrath of the law.

“Rubbish,they should return back all that they’ve been stealing. My girl (Col.Edith Nakalema) recently forced some thieves to return over shs 26B back into Government coffers, the same can be done to these ones,after the report implicating them”, Museveni was heard ordering.

“All implicated officers should be referred to the IGG for prosecution and possible recovery of public funds. But ensure that disciplinary, dismissals, termination of contracts, prosecutions and interdictions are carried out expeditiously and following legal procedures,” our source quoted President Museveni having further added.

He said in the meantime, the permanent secretaries of the ministries of Works and Transport, as well as that of Finance should handle matters of Uganda Airline Ltd.

A number of these officials have been accused of extorting money from job applicants, bungling procurement contracts, recruiting relatives, friends and church members across the networks, maintaining ghost workers on the airlines’ payroll and giving jobs to unqualified pilots at the expense of the safety of passengers, noted our source inside the Airline.

According to the report compiled by the State House investigations team, it has been revealed that the board members connived in a couple of acts that risked the re-collapse of the airline and these include;

1. The board’s involvement in recruitment leading to corruption.

2. Collusion with management in the recruitment of relatives and friends.

3. Flawed procurement and contracts mismanagement.

4. Poor risk analysis, management, implementation and follow-up

5. The board’s involvement in the day to day operations- micromanagement of the Airline

6. Certification of Aircraft –inability to supervise the process as the board.

7. Ground handling wastage by the board

8. Aircraft maintenance organisation.

9. The board approval of high costs/ expenses without due diligence due to self-interest.

10. The board‘s lack of a performance scorecard for the Senior Management team.

11. The board’s lack of functional and active committees.

12. Ignoring security vetting.

13. Retaining pilots that failed simulator training.

14. Reports of bribery solicitation among others.

In the same vein, it has been resolved that the management was also as toxic as the airline’s board and they are accused of;

1. Cornwell Muleya- Chief Executive Officer -Failure to curb corruption of the errant officials

2. Delayed operations of the Airbuses into service.

3. Delayed Self Handling project.

4. Gross procurement exceptions.

5. Poor market price assessment on procurements.

6. Lack of transparency in purchases.

7. Retrospective procurements

8. Instances of possible collusion and misuse of public funds.

9. Irregularities in bidding opening.

10. Awarding contracts to non-compliant bidders.

11. Signing contracts against expired bids.

12. Missing contract signatures.

13. Failure to appoint contract managers.

14. Irregular advance payments.

15. Award of contracts without approvals from Solicitor General.

16. Different bidding documents to the same bidders in the same procurement process.

17. Receipt of unsolicited bidders.

18. Differential rates.

19. Glaring revenue leakages.

20. Unethical human resource practices in recruitment.

21. Retaining pilots that failed simulator training.

22. Ignoring security vetting

23. Uncoordinated crew training.

24. Lack of transparency in purchases.

Background Of The Matter.

It’s worth noting that President Museveni in May 2021 sent the Airlines top managers including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cornwell Muleya, a Zambian national on a three-month suspension, and then ordered for forensic investigations on a number of allegations, among them; using a national carrier to smuggle alcohol into Somalia, an Islamic state, nepotism, corruption among others.

After firing Cornwell’s team including Andrew Tumusiime, who would go around bragging that he works closely with President Museveni, yet it’s the same man from Rwakitura who sent him packing and ordered for full investigation against him and his team, before he brought back Ms.Jennifer Bamuturaki, whom the then CEO Muleya had fired after her six months probation period, claiming she couldn’t match with his ‘brilliant team he wanted to assemble to run business at the airport.

Also, after firing Cornwell’s team, Museveni immediately deployed no-nonsense investigator Brenda Wadri from State House to investigate the rot in the Airlines.

Meanwhile, Wadri’s audit has since found the team connived in fraud and forgery, falsification of documents, best-evaluated bidders presenting forged tax clearance certificates; poor record-keeping, poor planning, unfair evaluation, unjustified use of direct procurement, missing payment records, contracts signed against expired bids and irregular procurements among others as summarized above. Watch the space.

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