Uganda Telecommunications (UTL) Administrator Bemanya Twebaze continues to come under pressure with a political analyst now accusing him of “obstruction” which he said led government to express loss of confidence in him to stabilize the company and secure an investor.
“UTL is core to both economic and national security of Uganda,” said Morrison Rwakakamba, a researcher and political analyst.
“Stonewalling government was a naive move by the Administrator. At a time when Government is reviving strategic assets like Uganda Airlines, we should not let UTL sink,” he added.
The remarks come against the backdrop of government’s decision to relive Bemanya of his position as administrator of UTL.
Investments and Privatization Minister Evelyne Anite said in a letter to Attorney General William Byaruhanga that whereas government is the only shareholder with absolute powers to take decisions on behalf of the company in accordance with insolvency Act and Regulations, and also the biggest creditor of UTL with over Shs 207bn, “we have encountered considerable difficulty dealing with the Administrator and have completely lost confidence in his ability to continue serving the role of administrator.”
Upon assuming office in March 2017, Bemanya says he found UTL with liabilities amounting to 900 billion shillings against an asset value of 148 billion shillings.
More so, employees were not paid in time, services were constantly disrupted and sites were being switched off slowly.
With no beckoning hope, Bemanya says he could have chosen to wind up the company once and for all.
Bemanya said he decided to optimize operations.
“We took the option of trying to make UTL healthier and attract investments which was the most difficult option but patriotic one,” he said.
Although the entity’s monthly revenues have stagnated at 4.2 billion shillings, he says, internal service provider collections have grown by 16 percent to Shs 2.6 bn as of now.
Loss of confidence
But Rwakakamba says it is not only government that lost confidence in the Administrator.
“Other creditors like Uganda Communications Employees Contributory Pension scheme are also on record- registering loss of confidence in Administrator. They say UTL is sinking more into debt while under Administration. In public interest, Hon. Anite was therefore right to remove Administrator,” said Rwakakamba.
The pensioners are set to petition court to facilitate Bemanya’s removal while the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has since expressed concern over his failure to comply with regulatory requirements.
Rwakakamba said the only way for government and people of Uganda to know UTL is getting out of insolvency or not is “to open its books of accounts,” adding, “Even investors interested in buying equity into UTL must see the books first before deciding.”
The Auditor General has since refused to audit UTL, saying administration is a court matter.
The Attorney General is also said to have turned down a request from Anite to file an application in court to remove Bemanya as administrator.
On his part, Rwakakamba said President Museveni moved to stabilise the company through indirect capitalization when he directed all government agencies and departments to buy internet and data through channels where UTL has shares.
“How then can anyone stone wall the President and people of Uganda from knowing what’s going on in UTL?” wondered Rwakakamba.
“No amount of wayward legalese can block people of Uganda. The Attorney General should act on Government decision through Minister Anite with immediacy.”