Lawmakers sitting on the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) have cited death threats relating to the ongoing probe into the irregular operations of the Uganda Airlines.
Preliminary findings of the Committee have pinned down the Airlines Chief Executive Officer-CEO, Jenifer Bamuturaki, and other senior officers for lack of integrity and prerequisite academic qualifications to steer successful operations of the national flagship and cargo carrier.
The Committee discovered that the Board unlawfully endorsed the appointment of Bamuturaki by President Yoweri Museveni in July 2022, after a competitive process for the selection of the ideal CEO through a consultancy firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers was irregularly terminated.
The sudden end to the search process that cost Shillings 95 million to recruit the CEO paved way for the ring-fencing of the position for Bamuturaki, yet she had not applied for it, and 40 other candidates had already applied for the position awaiting shortlisting and subsequent interviews. The board therefore had no way of ascertaining whether Bamuturaki was certainly more competent that any or all of the 40 applicants.
Further, the Committee also discovered that prior to her elevation as CEO, Bamuturaki as the Commercial Director, and doubling as the Contracts Manager connived with then CEO Ephraim Kalyebara Bagenda to exclusively solicit for Abbavater Group Limited to undertake public relations work for the Airlines without competitive bidding process.
Apparently, three legislators who spoke to Media and requested their names be withheld to shield them against further intimidations, disclosed that they have already received phone calls from unidentified persons warning them not to probe the queries deeper or face ‘regrettable consequences.’
But for the record, Joel Ssenyonyi, the Committee Chairperson confirmed the threats, adding that similar threats recently arose from their previous investigations into the Uganda Railways Corporation-URC, with the latest being the Uganda Land Commission
Ssenyonyi reaffirmed that they won’t back off from holding corrupt public officials accountable for causing financial losses to the government, adding that they have surrendered their safety and well-being in God’s hand for divine protection.
The Ssenyonyi Committee findings further corroborate the report of the Auditor General for the Financial Year 2020/2021 implicating the Airlines for operating without the recommended staff and salary structures, operating at a loss and flouting procurement guidelines.
The MPs are also worried for the safety of their witnesses who have been crucial in sharing relevant documents to facilitate the investigation processes to hold accountable culprits who have misused public resources.