Government has terminated the contracts of Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cornwell Muleya and other top managers.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Works and Transport Waiswa Bageya confirmed the development last Friday. He said that the decision was made by the interim board.
Muleya and 12 other top officials were suspended on April 21, 2021 by the Minister of Works and Transport Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala on orders of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in order to pave way for investigations into allegations of financial mismanagement, collusion, and nepotism in staff recruitment among other issues.
The other affected top managers included Rogers Wamara, the Director Commercial, finance director Paul Turacayisenga, and Procurement Manager, Moses Wangalwa. Also, the Sales and marketing manager Deo Nyanzi, Andrew Tumusiime (Senior administration manager), Harvey Kalama (Ground Operational Manager), Bruno Oringi (Safety Manager), Michael Kaliisa (Quality manager), Crew Training Manager Juliet Otage Odur, and first Officers Kenneth Kiyemba and Alex Kakooza.
As a result, an interim board of directors chaired by Bageya was put in place to oversee the airline. And after nine months on suspension, Bageya revealed that the interim board decided to terminate the CEO’s contract and that of other officials.
He however said the other managers and officers have either been terminated or reinstated while two are still on suspension pending vetting from security agencies and confirmation on whether or not they passed technical training.
Bageya however said the Inspectorate of Government had also picked interest in the allegations against the embattled staff.
“We have concluded the case against most of the suspended officials administratively. But we are also waiting for the decision of Inspector General of Government on the matter.”
“I cannot disclose the reasons for the CEO’s termination right now because the IGG is still conducting investigations. But the interim board of directors decided to terminate his contract because the allegations against him were substantial and he was found culpable.”
Muleya, Wamara, and other affected staff by the time of filing this report had not yet commented about this development.
Bageya however noted that the terminal benefits of those fired will be paid. The total payment figure remains undisclosed.
The Ministry of Works hired Muleya in September 2019 and renewed his contract three times before he was suspended. His latest contract was renewed in 2021 with the expiry being in September 2022.
Muleya, a Zambian, ventured into aviation in 1995 as General Manager and CEO of Air Botswana Corporation for eight years, moved on to Air Mauritius and worked as CEO for Zambezi Airlines Ltd and ALS Limited in Kenya. Then, he was contracted as CEO of Air Uganda in 2013. He has thereby worked in aviation for over 23 years.
The interim board’s decision comes weeks after Auditor General John Muwanga, noted in his latest report that Uganda Airlines is losing billions due to the delayed conclusions of the suspension cases.
Muwanga noted that the suspended staff remained on the same terms of the contract and those acting in their positions “receive extra pay implying double payment for the same position.
As a consequence, the company had lost Shs2.3bn from May to November 2021.
Sources at the airline indicated that Muleya earned over Shs50m every month while top managers earn more than Shs40m monthly.
Bageya also confirmed that Muleya has been earning Shs120m as his monthly gross salary.
As the result of the suspension of Muleya, in May last year, Gen. Katumba appointed Jenifer Bamuturaki Musiime as Acting CEO and other staff to carry out the roles of the suspended managers. Bamuturaki had earlier worked at Uganda Airlines as the commercial director but was dismissed over corruption allegations.
Musiime in an acting position has been earning close to Shillings 60 million monthly while Muleya continued to earn his monthly salary resulting in double payment, according to the Auditor-General.
Bageya says the shareholders will present a list of board of directors for approval in the cabinet next week.
The government revived the national carrier 2019 to lower transport costs, boost tourism and business opportunities for Ugandans.
Registered as Uganda National Airlines Company Ltd (UNACL), the airline is under the joint supervision of the ministries of works and finance, which own 50 per cent of shares each. It currently has over 300 staff including top managers who are mostly in acting positions.
In October 2021, Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija said that the shareholders had made the mistake of appointing an incompetent board of directors and managers.
He said that the two rocky years of the national carrier had largely been a result of the appointment of the board directors and managers without experience in the aviation industry.
Kasaija however said that the shareholders would resolve the corporate governance and management issues by mid-2022.
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