President Yoweri Museveni has declined State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite’s call to replace the Uganda Telecom – UTL administrator.
In a letter to the Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire dated July 3, 2019, Museveni made no mention of Bemanya Twebaze, the UTL administrator. The President instead said that the government has been in the process of identifying suitable investors to partner, to revamp UTL as opposed to divesting it.
The above position, he said, was also taken by the cabinet.
“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 UTL as opposed to divesting it. The above position was also taken by Cabinet,” reads Museveni’s letter. This a blow to Anite who had insisted Bemanya must go. But the letter also sides with Anite’s call for constant updates on whatever decision is taken on the company.
Anite accuses Bemanya of refusing to be audited.
Museveni says in the letter that cabinet must always be consulted on any investment or related decisions concerning UTL before they are taken.
In a June 26, 2019 letter, Anite said that government has encountered considerable difficulties dealing with the Administrator and completely lost confidence in his ability to continue serving the role of UTL Administrator.
She says that the government which is the only shareholder has absolute powers to take decisions on behalf of the Company in accordance with the Insolvency Act and Regulations. Government is also the biggest creditor of UTL with over 207 billion Shillings.
“In effect, a decision has been taken to remove Mr Bemanya Twebaze, Official Receiver as the current Administrator and to immediately replace him with an individual that we will indicate,” reads part of Anite’s letter in which she requests the Attorney General to urgently apply to the court to replace the current Administrator.
But also, Museveni’s letter could mean that Bemanya’s actions will henceforth be keenly evaluated.
In response to the President’s letter, Otafiire writes to Bemanya that he should expedite the search for a strategic investor.
“You are required to continuously update me on the progress to enable me to report to cabinet accordingly,” Otafiire said.
In October, a Nigerian firm, Taleology Holdings GIB Ltd was announced as the buyer of UTL at 260 billion shillings. The company jumped out of the deal before making or investing a penny.
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Anite said after that she told the administrator the company was for fraudster but couldn’t listen.
Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said on Thursday that there could have been people in government who needed to take advantage of UTL situation and perhaps benefit from its assets.
The public fights between top government officials on matters of UTL could further dampen potential investors’ confidence in the company. This could only mean more time on the market without credible investors taking an interest in it.