The former chairperson board of directors Uganda Airlines, Perez Godfrey Ahabwe has accused President Yoweri Museveni of wrongly appointing Jenifer Bamuturaki as the Chief Executive Officer-CEO of the entity.
On 7 June 2019, Ahabwe was appointed by Monica Azuba Ntege, the then Minister of Works and Transport as the Chairman Board of Directors to superintend over the inauguration of the national flag carrier of Uganda.
However, Ahabwe and other board members were sent on forced leave and later disbanded on the directive of the President through then Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda over allegations of corruption, and mismanagement among others.
While appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority, and State Enterprises-COSASE on Thursday, Ahabwe argued that the President interfered in the affairs of the Airlines by issuing unlawful directives to appoint the CEO, thus usurping the role of the Board.
The former chairperson told the committee that the President made a mistake to appoint Bamuturaki. He said that as then commercial director, Bamuturaki was found incompetent, underperforming, insubordinate, and involved herself in financial impropriety.
Ahabwe and the former Airlines CEO Cornwell Muleya who appeared as witnesses before the Committee on separate occasions explained that Bamuturaki influenced and handpicked Kenyan-based promotions and advertising company, the Abbaverta Media Agency to do public relations for Uganda Airlines.
Her actions led to over-invoicing of the Airlines of USD 404,000 for the media promotional services instead of USD 172,000, resulting in an inflated amount of USD 232,000.
The board would later discover that Bamuturaki had an intimate relationship the Mark Arnold Odeke, the CEO of Abbaverta. Ahabwe’s testimony was last month in July corroborated by Muleya, whose contract was also terminated on orders of the President.
The MPs linked a deed poll document dated March 2019, filed and stamped by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau-URSB, where Bamuturaki denounced her childhood name (Musiime Bamuturaki Jenifer) and adopted Jenifer Arnold Lenkai as a new name. The evidence proved Bamuturaki’s conflict of interest in the deals she sanctioned.
Ahabwe pointed out that the Airlines Act and the Board Charter empower the Board to hire staff and directors including the CEO as well as discipline them if they acted contrary to the interest of the shareholders. Uganda Airlines is jointly owned by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and the Ministry of Works and Transport on 50/50 percent shares.
Further, Ahabwe pointed out that his team discovered that procurement guidelines were grossly flouted to award the supply of staff uniforms which were of substandard quality; overpricing of food in the economic and business classes of the Airlines, fuel supply, insurance and media contracts that were clandestinely benefiting top staff who included Bamuturaki.
The committee led by Joel Ssenyonyi is investigating the Airlines following irregularities that the Auditor General raised in his report for the Financial Year 2020/2021. The queries include lack of job grades, strategic plan, poor management of contract files, and failure to seek approval from the National Information Technology Authority – NITA Uganda, for procurement of IT software among others.