President Yoweri Museveni has said any decision involving the process of identifying a suitable investor in the effort to revamp Uganda Telecom (UTL) should be made with the direct approval of Cabinet.
On Wednesday, Museveni, in a letter to the Justice Minister, Kahinda Otafiire and copied to the Prime Minister, Attorney General, and finance minister said the Government should be involved in finding an investor to partner within revamping UTL.
“As I have guided on several occasions, given the strategic importance of UTL to the economy, Government has been in the process of identifying a suitable investor to partner with to revamp of UTL as opposed to divesting it.
The above position was also taken by Cabinet,” Museveni noted. He warned that no actions contrary to Cabinet’s position should be taken and added that, “Cabinet must always be consulted on any investment or related decisions concerning UTL before they are taken.”
The President’s guidance comes on the heels of a bitter exchange between junior investment minister Evelyn Anite and UTL’s provisional caretaker manager, Twebaza Bemanya over accountability for UTL’s operations since it went under receivership in 2017.
Whereas Anite wants Bemanya purged for failing to account for UTL’s operations by refusing to comply with the Auditor General and rejecting directives of Uganda Communications Commission, which is an encumbrance to attracting suitable investors,
Bemanya, on the other hand, insists that his management has been making reports every six months for submission to court and creditors as required under the Insolvency Act.
Bemanya denies blocking any audit but says final accounts of the telecom operator would be availed for auditing at the end of his administration term on November 22, which prompted Anite to call for his removal.
However, Bemanya’s position has been backed by a recent legal opinion by the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga, advising the finance ministry to back off any process to remove the administrator of UTL, causing a stalemate. Byaruhanga argued the finance ministry has no locus to initiate the removal of the administrator.
“The ministry of finance, planning, and economic development as a shareholder of UTL has no locus to apply to the court to remove the administrator and any such application is bound to fail,” Byaruhanga warned.
Bemanya was appointed in 2017 as a provisional caretaker manager to prepare the company to be taken over by an investor.