The state minister for finance in charge of general duties, Gabriel Ajedra, has distanced himself from the saga surrounding the management of Uganda Telecom (UTL). The controversy follows a complaint by the state minister for investment, Evelyn Anite, that the administrator of UTL, Twebaze Bemanya, has failed to account for the telecom’s operations.
Anite last week wrote to the Attorney General to initiate the removal of Bemanya from his position. Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana declined to grant the request. In one of her earlier statements in Parliament, Anite faulted her colleague, Ajedra, for renewing Bemanya’s contract for one year, saying the ministry was against it.
Bemanya was appointed in 2017 as a provisional caretaker manager to prepare the company to be taken over by an investor. His contract has been renewed twice. However, in an interview with New Vision on Friday, Ajedra said it was never brought to his attention at the ministry that Bemanya’s contract should not be extended.
“There had been two extensions prior to my letter. Nobody told me not to extend the contract, either verbally or on record. Why now?” Ajedra asked. According to the minister, there was even consensus at one meeting that Bemanya had done a good job in managing the telecom operator while the Government sought a suitable investor.
“We had a presentation where everyone thought Bemanya had done a good job and that he should lead again. Where is the issue of incompetence coming from now?” Ajedra asked. The minister said he was unhappy that his name was being dragged into the controversy many months after the ministry took a position.
“It is not fair for someone to drag my name into this matter at this time. Why was this not brought up in November or December? I have a name to protect,” he stated. Anite said last week that the finance ministry had lost control over UTL after the administrator allegedly to be audited and to file accountability reports to them.
Bemanya denied blocking any audit but said final accounts of the telecom operator would be availed for auditing at the end of the administration, due on November 22. He said the management has been making periodic reports every six months, for submission to court and creditors, as required under the Insolvency Act.
UTL’s problems began in February 2017, when the Libyan government, which was the majority shareholder through UCOM Ltd, took a decision to withdraw all its five directors.