The cabinet sitting in State House Entebbe has appointed Joachim Buwembo and seven others to make up the new board members of the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC).
According to Minister for the Presidency Milly Babalanda, whose docket supervises UPPC, the approved names include (veteran scribe) Joachim Buwembo (Wakiso), who will be deputised by Sadat Kisuyi Sadat Kisuyi (Bugweri), Jolly Kamugira Kaguhangire (Mbarara), Alice Muhoozi (Rukungiri) and Andrew Kibaya (Wakiso).
Others are Hellen Icumar Judith (Katakwi), Karugaba Jimmy (Kabalore) and Bukenya Nooh (Butambala).
“The process of identifying these individuals has lasted for three months because we needed to be careful about the composition of the board to avoid previous mistakes,” Babalanda told the parliamentary committee on commissions and statutory bodies (COSASE) chaired by Joel Ssenyonyi.
The minister had appeared before this committee to respond to its queries arising from the auditor general’s report.
Among the issues raised by members were the absence of the UPPC board, substantive managing director and other issues related to the governance and management of the corporation.
In absence of the substantive board, the minister explained that she assumed the board powers as per the UPPC Act which empowers the minister to be a caretaker to avoid paralyzing the operations of the corporation. The minister told the committee that the previous board is currently in court over mismanagement of the corporation and abuse of office.
“I had to stand in to undertake the responsibilities of the board because UPPC being a corporate entity, cannot suspend its business due to lack of a board,” she told members.
Babalanda attributed the hitherto absence of the board to ongoing criminal investigations in the corporation which started on August 16 2021 following her request.
She said this led to the interdiction of board members and some staff on request by police when they interfered with investigations. She said her decision was based on a whistleblower who alerted her ministry of alleged corruption in UPPC by board members in connivance with some staff. So heinous the scandal was, that the same group had hatched a plot to fraudulently withdraw more billions from UPPC accounts.
“I immediately forwarded this intelligence to CID director on August 16 2021 requesting for investigations into corruption allegations because it’s not my mandate to investigate corruption cases,” she said adding that when she called a meeting the following day for the board and staff of UPPC, majority board members snubbed that meeting.
She said when the group boycotted her meeting and coupled with their suspicious actions on August 22, this prompted her to interdict them the following day on August 23 to deny them access to other files. The minister said on that very day, the CID director asked for interdiction of more staff for interference with investigations in a letter referenced FAP/CID 50/154!
STATUS OF MANAGING DIRECTOR
She, however, attributed the delay to appoint a new managing director to legal implications as there was no board in place. Secondly, the contract for the previous managing director Prof. Tom Davis Wasswa who was on interdiction only expired while he was on interdiction reading from August 23 2021.
“On December 3 2021, after confirming that one of the senior managers at UPPC Mr. Kenneth Oluka; the editor was not involved directly in the scandals under current investigation, I assigned him the role of acting MD because he’s an insider with vast knowledge of the business at UPPC replacing Mr Tweheyo James whom I had posted there as a temporary caretaker of UPPC,” she said.
“Hon. members, there are five files under police investigation. Investigation for one file (involving theft of money paid by the electoral commission to UPPC was completed and suspects were charged. Among these included Prof. Tom Davis Wasswa. The investigation on four other files is still ongoing” she told members, but however informed members that one of the challenges delaying the process is the fact that some of the key suspects involved are still at large,” she said.
The minister described the situation at UPPC as a crisis as a result of many senior managers being implicated in ongoing corruption investigations and others already in an anti-corruption court. She said the investigations created a huge gap in the leadership of the corporation but however, said this investigation was in the national interest to clean the corporation.
Babalanda told members who were satisfied with her submission and interventions that for the time she has been minister and overseer of UPPC, she has noted some challenges the biggest being of internal fights.
“There are many internal fights that will require dealing with probably through restructuring of the organization. This will be a priority and I will deal with many areas of concern” she pledged.
The other milestone was for the corporation to engage in private sector business unlike before when it largely depended on government jobs.
About this issue, Babalanda told members that she had not fully read the agreement and in addition, some information was still lacking and yet it was not started during her reign. She, however, said the joint venture is for the good of the country.
“Government is spending a lot of money in printing security-related documents outside the country. This is an opportunity for us to build capacity in printing security-related documents” she said citing the fruits of the venture as being reducing congestion during the acquisition of driving licenses and passports. She added that the biggest achievement for the year 2021 was the fact that the construction of the security printing factory under the joint venture was started.
Committee members including Elijah Okupa, Yusuf Nsibambi, and Gafabusa Richard commended the minister for the presentation and her being remorseful for some of her mistakes.
“We thank the minister for appointing a representative board. It has members from all regions. This is good for our country,” MPs including Okupa said.
ATTACHED IS THE PRESENTATION BY MINISTER FOR PRESIDENCY TO PAC-COSASE
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