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MPs probe 40 boards

Failed politicians dominate

Independent research on the membership of management boards of 40 state enterprises has found that at least half of them are run by retired or defeated politicians. The performance and membership of these management boards are under parliamentary scrutiny.

So are the huge disparities in the earnings of chief executive officers of statutory bodies and parastatals (See: What top CEOs earn).

According to the chairman of the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase), Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda,
previous audit reports have found that politician-led management boards have performed worse than those managed by professionals.

“[Parastatals with management] boards which are not run by politicians perform better than those run by politicians because politicians put them under a lot of pressure for money,” Ssemujju said.

At the end of the hotly- contested 2010 NRM primaries, President Museveni persuaded some losers not to run against the winners as independents by promising them jobs. Some eventually ended up on management boards of state enterprises. Our research shows that of the 11 board members of the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), at least six are politicians who lost in the previous elections.

Former Presidency Minister Beatrice Wabudeya, who lost to FDC strongman Nathan Nandala-Mafabi in Budadiri West, is the board chairperson. Her deputy is former Kapchorwa Woman MP Gertrude Kulany.

Former Busongora North MP Elijah Kyetunda, former Mawokota South MP Henry Mukasa Kityo, former Pian MP Paul Lokeris and former Rakai district chairman Vincent Ssemakula Settuba are the other politicians on the board. Wabudeya and Ssemakula also earn salaries as senior presidential advisors.

At the national broadcaster, UBC, former Jinja municipality East MP Nathan Igeme Nabeta heads the seven-member board, which also has the former LC-5 chairman and now Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Wakiso, Ian Kyeyune. Former Soroti LC-5 chairman Capt John Emily Otekat and former Kotido Woman MP Janat Akorimoe Akech are on the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) board.

Former Nakasongola Woman MP Grace Tubwita sits on the National Forestry Authority (NFA) board while former Bunya West MP and current junior Agriculture
Minister Aggrey Bagiire heads the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) board. Meanwhile, after losing the Butambala seat to Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi in the 2012 by-election, Faisal Ssali Kikulukunyu was appointed to the Immigration board where he sits with former Hoima Woman MP Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki.

Ruth Asiimwe Kanyaruju may not be known in national politics but after she led hundreds of NRM supporters in Lyantonde in the burning of party cards following her double loss to Lyantonde Woman MP Grace Namara Rutemba, she got a job on the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) board.

Ibrahim Lubega Kaddunabbi who lost to Kikulukunyu in the 2010 NRM primaries was appointed to head the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) as chief executive officer, while former Lands Minister Baguma Isoke heads the Uganda Land Commission.

Overlapping

Our research has also found there are some people, not necessarily politicians, who are serving on more than one board. For instance, former Finance Minister Gerald Ssendaula chairs the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) board and also sits on the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) board. In the energy sector, David Ssebabi sits on both boards of the Uganda Electricity distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) and Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).

Beatrice Byarugaba sits on the boards of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and UCDA.Hajjat Aphwa K Ssebyala is a board member of NEC as well as IRA. Dr Stephen Robert Isabalija chairs the board of directors of the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) and also sits on the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) board.

“These people are not angels; where do they get all the time to serve the different boards?” Ssemujju asked.

“We want to propose that one person serves on one board instead of two or three different boards,” Ssemujju said.

Bad influence

During his time as chairman of Cosase, Kumi MP Patrick Amuriat Oboi engaged researchers from Makerere University to do a study on the performance of the statutory bodies. According to their May 2014 report, the study found that the appointment of politicians on management boards had eroded the technical ability of the corporations. The report found that because some political appointees are not gainfully employed, they make endless demands for facilitation.

Some entities such as Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), among others, were found without boards. Because the power to appoint the boards lies with the line ministers, some ministers are reluctant to constitute the boards largely to retain direct control of the entities.

“It is upon the recommendations of the report that we are undertaking this investigation, and on it, we shall base our report to Parliament,” Ssemujju said.

sadabkk@observer.ug

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