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Pressure mounts at UBC, Museveni orders inquest

An investigation by the Inspectorate of Government that found several management irregularities at the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) could force a change of course at the public broadcaster.

More so, after President Museveni recently instructed Rose Namayanja, the minister of Information and National Guidance, to investigate persistent complaints of UBC mismanagement, The Observer has learnt. The probe comes after the IG in its report released last year, found that all was not well at UBC.

The report, which was copied to the president, concluded: “The manner in which UBC has been managed by Mr [Paul] Kihika [the managing director] falls short of what is required by the UBC Act and procurement laws.”

Since then, several petitions have followed, sources say, forcing Museveni to take action. Namayanja is expected to report back by the end of this month. Kihika faces accusations of incompetence, favouritisim and failure to stem the financial malaise at the public broadcaster.

Kihika was appointed to head UBC in June 2011, after Kabakumba Masiko, the then minister of Information, disbanded the board and management team that was headed by Edward Mugasa Musinguzi over financial impropriety. Mugasa’s team was accused of failing to account for Shs 13bn, which was meant to compensate tenants affected by the relocation of UBC from Nakasero to its current location along Nile avenue.

Further, there were allegations that members of management and the board were misusing UBC equipment such as masts, generators and vehicles. Kihika’s appointment, therefore, even in acting capacity, was expected to stem the financial malaise and steady the UBC ship.

However, allegations of mismanagement and abuse of company equipment are still rife, according to current staff and those who have since left or were fired. Kihika has been accused of being aloof to staff concerns and of dismissing those he deems not loyal to him.

Some of the key senior staff who have left or been sacked from UBC under a cloud of suspicion include Barbara Muchilwa, an internal auditor; James Wajjega, a senior accountant; and Dickens Kagarura, the former acting corporation secretary, who was dimissed recently.

Of all exits, the one of Kagarura, according to our sources, was most shocking because he was until his dismissal regarded as Kihika’s right-hand man. The two reportedly fell out after Kihika accused Kagarura of badmouthing him before senior government officials. Kagarura has since gone to court to challenge his dismissal.

Kihika responds

In response, Kihika told The Observer that ever since he took office, some people have tried to fight him. He alleged that a senior army officer, whose wife was fired from UBC for incompetence, could be the architect of the scheme to bring him down.

“They are saying all sorts of things, that I am rude, I am arrogant and I do no respect workers. But that is not true,” Kihika said.

Asked about the high employee turnover at UBC, Kihika said some people were fired for incompetence while others left over personal reasons. He said he was ready for any changes and was not afraid to move on.

“Before I came here, I worked somewhere. Change is normal and if it comes I will embrace it,” he said.

Mary Karooro Okurut, the former minister of Information and National Guidance, said she did not feel comfortable commenting about UBC affairs.

“I left that ministry and I would not want my name to be dragged in anything concerning UBC,” said Karooro, who is now minister for Gender, Labour and Social Affairs.

Namayanja couldn’t say much either, telling us today that she was still new in the ministry and trying to settle down.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd