President Museveni has for the first time commented on the ongoing chaos surrounding the management of the Uganda Airlines.
Earlier this month, it was reported that a storm and battle for control were brewing at the national carrier and that the same was threatening the success of the revived airline.
However, on Thursday, Museveni who for the first time flew aboard the airline confirmed there were “a few spots of corruption” that were affecting the operations of the airline but said these had been dealt with.
“The airline had been infiltrated by some alleged corruption which I have smashed by disciplining the board and some elements in the management,”Museveni said on Thursday.
He however assured the public that the national carrier has a bright future.
Earlier this month, the lid was blown off the storm that has behind the curtains been brewing at the Uganda Airlines for months as power struggles became pronounced.
A January 27, 2021 dossier to President Museveni by the national carrier Chief Executive Officer, Cornwell Muleya indicated that intrigue, corruption and interference were the order of the day.
According to the report, some board members have on several occasions met with some members of the management team to inflate invoices in a bid to make money out of the airline and that this has led to division among the management team as well as inefficiency in the management of the airline.
The report indicated that managers working with backing from some of the board members to inflate invoices have on several occasions to slow down some of the airline projects as they push their own selfish agendas with protection from the “godfathers” on the board.
The report indicated that some board members view the CEO as being too rigid and not flexible on the issue of corruption as people find it hard to work with him.
“They advised that I must try to understand how business is done in Uganda because these practices are normal in this country, otherwise I will find myself alone. They have gone so far as to suggest that our ethical approach management may be one of the reasons why we are experiencing delays in the release of company project funds from the ministries within government.”
According to the Uganda Airlines CEO, it has been told him directly in the face that many projects have failed to take off because he has refused to give kickbacks to some government officials to give a green light to the projects.
It was reported that in 2019, the airline contracted services of Abbavater as its publicity and promotions agency to design and perform sales and marketing activities but little did they know that the Commercial Director then had connections in the company yet it was under her department to supervise it.
“When the company was contracted to do this work, management was not aware that some of the managers within the airline, including the Commercial Director whose duty it was to manage this service, had intimate connections with this company. This only came to light after the agency’s services to the airline were found to be below par to a point where management had to recommend to the board to terminate their contract.”
The report said that investigations found out that the agency had either bribed its way into the airline or attempted to bribe some managers in order to get the contract.
“Apart from the poor performance on marketing activities, the company had issues of over-invoicing, non-payment of subcontracted media houses and other suppliers for services arranged even without permission from the airline accounting officer at the time.”
It was also reported that the agency contract suppliers under authority of the then Commercial Director and that despite submitting claims to the airline and being paid for the costs of the sub-contracted parties, the monies didn’t reach the intended suppliers who have since gone to court demanding for their money.
The report noted at one time there was approval of payment of US$232,000(Shs 1.48bn) to the agency yet the actual cost was US$172000(Shs631.2million).
It however remains to be seen who among the members of the Uganda Airlines board and management has been disciplined, if President Museveni’s words are to go by.