MPs have recommended that current and past executives of Uganda Airlines should be punished for mismanagement and flouting procurement regulations.
According to a 50-page report seen by this publication, MPs on the Cosase committee say the airline’s chief executive officer Jennifer Bamuturaki, who has since changed her name to Jennifer Lenkai, should refund Shs156 million paid to online bloggers to burnish her reputation and that of the national carrier during a recent storm of bad publicity.
MPs argue that the controversial contract flouted procurement regulations and was mired in influence peddling. The name Lenkai, the report details, is linked to one Mark Arnold Odeke Lenkai, the chief executive of a public relations company—Abbavater—which Uganda Airlines hired in April 2019 to organize a function for receiving the first two Bombardier aircrafts and Abbavater was paid Shs779 million for the work.
MPs found that Ms Bamuturaki and Abbavater shared a postal address.
“The committee cited clear conflict of interest and influence peddling from Ms Bamuturaki in the award of the contract to Abbavater Ltd contrary to Sections 8 and 9 of the Anti-Corruption Act,” the report notes.
On October 24, 2019, Ms Bamuturaki was fired as the airline’s commercial director for incompetence, but bounced back as chief executive in December 2021. Soon after which she hired a group of online bloggers at a monthly fee of Shs13 million without the knowledge of the company secretary.
Following concerns expressed by the Auditor General, Cosase hearings investigating Uganda Airlines operations began in July. The committee finished its investigation in September, but before it could deliver its report, Parliament was sent on a month-long vacation.
The Cosase hearings highlighted operations of the national carrier dogged by scandals since the company was incorporated in 2018.
The airline has had three chief executive officers and two boards of directors since. The last board was sent packing early last year to pave way for an investigation into corruption and flawed procurement deals.
While the Auditor General put Uganda Airlines’ loss in Financial Year 2021/22 at around Shs232 billion, Cosase says it is almost twice as much, around Shs500b.
In addition, the airline’s strategic business plan is not in sync with the National Development Plan III.
Cosase wants all middlemen eliminated from the airline’s fuel procurement chain. They also want Ms. Bamuturaki to be held responsible for failing to pay Shs. 16 billion in arrears that have been due for more than six months and for failing to properly inventory the airline’s assets in violation of the Public Finance Management Act.