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Uganda Airlines Board marred with sectarianism concerns

Uganda Airline’s Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft at the Old Entebbe Airport. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The appointment of board members to the Uganda National Airlines Board (UNAB) by the Minister of Works and Transport, Monica Azuba has been overshadowed by concerns on sectarianism from a section of MPs.

The legislators during a plenary sitting on Thursday, July 25 appealed to Government to consider when fronting individuals to take on positions in government entities.

Leading the call during Thursday’s plenary sitting was Odonga Otto (Aruu County) and James Waluswaka (Bunyole West) who questioned if it would kill the Minister fronting Board Chairperson who isn’t from western Uganda.

In the appointments, Godfrey Ahabwe Pereza comes on as Chairperson of this board with the Minister saying he has got proven experience from his former roles as Choir of several Parliamentary Committees on top of his high qualifications in Economics, especially the Ugandan Economy.

Ms. Rehema Mutazindwa brings to this board a wealth of experience in Human Capital Management with a background in Political Science, Social and Business Administration while Catherine Asinde Poran is on experienced lawyer who mastered in Commercial Law, has experience in institutional banking and currently heads Client Coverage of Stanbic Bonk and has been brought on board to provide ‘great’ expertise in issues of contract management to the National Airline.

Although Waluswaka pointed to the fact that Charles Hamya comes from Bunyole, he said there is need to investigate if the name is in tandem with the face. Hamya is a fellow of ACCA, UK giving him a pronounced accounting background with experience in Tax Auditing and Business Management at a very senior level.

Steven Aziku Zua has been o member of the National Airline Task Force that spearheaded the revival of the Uganda Airline and carries a wealth of experience in Aeronautical and Flight Engineering with 19500 Flight Hours, which makes him the most technical member of the board in matters to Aircraft handling.

Benon Kajuna, the Director of Transport in the Ministry of Works and Transport a Senior Government Transport Economist experienced in the development and management of Transport infrastructure and services and his membership on the board is to link to the Ministry of Works and Transport.

Godfrey Semugooma, the Director Financial Management and Acting Assistant Accountant General in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, is experienced in Financial Management Services and has seen the delivery of a number of Government Financial Systems, will be the Board link to Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

However, Moses Ali, First Deputy Prime Minister castigated the MPs for bringing up sectarianism talk describing it as divisive for the country saying, “I am a bit concerned about the message we send outside this house. It is very divisive which isn’t good for this country. I am not stopping anybody but I am saying we should be careful.”

But Odonga put Moses Ali to order castigating him for trying to gag MPs against raising issues to do with sectarianism.

Otto said, “The Deputy Prime Minister went to law school and is a practicing lawyer and he knows the law that governs sectarianism and not wanting us to talk about it is illegal. Is he in order to make a submission as if he isn’t a lawyer?”

Gen Moses Ali shot back saying, “I am not worried whether colleagues are going to judge me whether I am a lawyer or not, I am a lawyer. Much as we talk about sectarianism, the law is there for you to use it, if you know apply it. You are dividing people more, in fact you are anti- ‘sectarianism’.”

The absence of a substantive law creating Uganda Airlines raised concern with MPs wondering if Government is going to run a national airline based on existing Memorandum of Understandings.

Hon Azuba who appeared clueless about the question asked replied, “Uganda Airlines is public liability company and it is being run as such. A board is for policy, we will have CEO who will be well versed with operations of the law.

It was Markson Oboth, Chairperson Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee who took upon himself to save Azuba from embarrassment by offering to school her on company law arguing, “Her response portrays what I am fearing to say. This should be in your best interest that you run a corporation not a company.

I want to offer company law lessons to the minister. You have to have legal personality to exist, but that isn’t enough. This would clearly sort it out. It would be prudent that you commit that you are going to bring the law as an Act establishing the National Airline,” said Oboth.

Kenneth Lubogo sought clarification on why Government should bring another Act yet the Uganda Development Corporation is in place to manage the airline on behalf of the public, “There issues that Uganda Airlines run by Uganda Development Corporation and another issue coming up with another corporation. So how do we handle this issue another corporation parallel?”

“There is no legal deterrence that would stop enactment of a specific law running Uganda Airlines. Uganda Airlines would be an independent company created by an act of Parliament that is the interest of Ugandans.” Oboth replied.

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