President Museveni has called Justice Minister Hon Kahinda Otafiire and warned against taking unilateral decisions in the management of Uganda Telecommunications’s issues (UTL), a big blow to the Attorney General’s advisory that the administrator of the telecom was only answerable to court.
The caution comes against the backdrop of intense infighting in government after Investment and Privatisation Minister Evelyne Anite called for an audit of UTL’s operations.
The Attorney General William Byaruhanga and his Deputy Mwesigwa Rukutana recently authored opinions opposing the audit, saying it was not prudent as the administrator was in the final stages of getting an investor.
They also poured water on Anite’s call to remove Bemanya from the position of administrator, arguing the Minister needed to justify the decision.
Rukutana and Byaruhanga, who are under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, said Anite lacked the “locus” to remove Bemanya as he was only answerable to court.
In a fresh turn of events, President Museveni in July 3 letter said, “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/s to partner with to revamp UTL as opposed to divesting it.”
A reliable official said Museveni was informed that under fire, Bemanya could decide to liquidate UTL as the law allows him to do so, should he fail to get an investor before November 22, 2019 when his term expires.
Museveni reminded Ofafiire that the decision not to liquidate UTL was taken by Cabinet.
“Therefore no actions contrary to the Cabinet position should be taken,” he emphasised.
The President also directed that “Cabinet must always be consulted on any investment or related decisions concerning UTL before they are taken.”
Political analyst and former presidential advisor, Morrison Rwakakamba, said the President’s letter challenges Justice Ministry’s opinions on management of UTL.
“The position of Rukutana was that the UTL Administrator cannot report to government. Now Museveni says any decision on UTL must be reported to Cabinet. Therefore Government has Locus,” said Rwakakamba.
He further observed that Rukutana had advised in his opinion that dealing with one shareholder (government) would expose UTL to liability which has “been quashed” by Museveni’s letter.
Asked what Museveni’s missive means to the Justice Ministry, Rwakakamba observed: “It means that the opinion of AG/Justice Ministry is not sacrosanct. It means that cabinet can agree or disagree with AG opinion. This is healthy in a democracy.”
ChimpReports has also seen a letter from Otafiire to Bemanya, reiterating Museveni’s instructions to avoid liquidation of UTL; expedite process of sourcing for an investor and regularly update him – contrary to the earlier position of Justice Ministry that the administrator reports only to court.