Mismanagement, corruption and impunity have combined to threaten the once thriving Uganda Wildlife Authority, this blogger can now inform you.
A lot has been in the press about the ongoings in the wildlife watch dog but the latest make you worry.
First, the ongoing Commission of inquiry's mandate has ended but Justice George Kanyeihamba is still working without an extension of his mamdate, which started in February and was to last three months. Why there is no extension and the good old man is working, remains a mistery. Anyway, the Commission was instituted by Gen. Kahinda Otafiire to specifically find fault in the former UWA board chairman and Presidential advisor John Nagenda, his successor, counsel Andrew Kasirye. The inquiry also wants to find by all means that Moses Mapesa, the ED who was forced out of UWA by Otafiire and his bag boy called Dr Boysier Muballe. Mapesa and the previous board bosses declined to release UWA money taps to Otafiire and his cohorts. Nagenda's trouble was to write against the near banditry style of management that Otafiire ushered at the once vibrant wildlife conservation agency.
They then, in a kangoroo style, handpicked Dr Andrew Seguya from Uganda Wildlife Education Center to become UWA's acting Executive Director [ED].
Mr Seguya has fitted the bill so well that intrique, cliquism and financial hemorrhage now defines UWA's style of work.
Your investigative blogger, has, for instance, established that Mr Seguya is in liason with some technocrats at the Tourism ministry to raid UWA's coffers for filmsy reasons. Instead of building UWA's financial base, Seguya is busy dolling out financial favours to the Tourism bureacrats.
While the bureacrats get engrossed in the financial inducements, Seguya then concetrates on creating a clique in UWA. The bosses who would then intervene, are made impotent by the financial benefits. For instance, Seguya endorsed the reduction of gorilla tracking permits just because some interested tour companies had seen him. DR Congo and Rwanda still maintain the old price but because Seguya wanted to be relevant to the powers that be both financial and politically, he maded a decision that is bound to lead to revenue loss for UWA.
These days in UWA, if a big man from Tourism ministry asks for money, the incompetent UWA financial director Yusuf Musisi just runs to cash office.
The staff who stand in the way, are branded rebels thus kicked out of UWA. That is how the four senior staff ended up being suspended by the Kanyeihamba Commission even before hearing from them. Apparently, some members of this Commission are enjoying sweet grapes from UWA.
Leaving Seguya to run the show as he wishes, has made staff in UWA who hitherto never bought into tribalism talk, to start feeling the new man wants to introduce tribalism. This view now silently held by several UWA staff, has gained credence after Seguya appointed mainly Baganda to juicy positions yet among the staff [ Juliet Anguria Nsiima, John Makombo. Vanice Mirembe and Grace Kyomuhendo] none is a Muganda.
While he tries to distance himself from the suspensions, Mr Seguya was actually behind it. Sources say that the reason Kanyeihamba Commission sent the staff on suspension was to give room to Seguya to survive the court battle. Seguya whose appointment was challenged by Mark Kamanzi, the legal affairs director at UWA, was in panic that court was going to kick him out.
He then reportedly connived with some Commission members to send John Makombo on suspension so as to create a kind of leadership crisis at UWA. Seguya would then use Makombo's suspension as reason to plead that if he is sent away, UWA would have a management crisis since one of the longest serving officials [Makombo] was on suspension.
Proof of Illegal appointment
Seguya appears to be badly in need of opportunity to scheme out financial deals in UWA to the extent that even when everyone sees that he is not serving legally, the new boss doesnt give it a thought.
On December 23 last year, the First Deputy Prime Minister, Eriya Kategaya wrote to the President asking him to compel Otafiire to appoint a new board at UWA which would then appoint a new ED. Kategaya's letter was provoked by a top management meeting which had concluded that Seguya was working at UWA illegally.
Ministers Fred Ruhindi, Nelson Gagawala, Simon Lokodo and bureacrats like Justus Tindigarukayo, Denis Bireije, Henry Obbo and Patricia Mutesi attended the meeting. Gen. Otafiire sent an apology.
The meeting concluded that "The Appointment of Board Trustees headed by Dr Muballe Boysier under Minute 98 [CT 2010] was not done in accordance with the Uganda Wildlife Act....
" The appointment of the acting executive director of UWA by the Minister was irregularly done as there was no Board of Trustees in place," reads Kategaya's letter.
But Gen. Otafiire remained defiant. So did Seguya. Although he had a job at UWEC, the perks at UWA appear to have tickled the soft spoken man. He now reportedly tries to use favours to silence criticism--from the government officials to media houses. He is known as a man of underhand methods who can smile with you and look innocent when behind the curtains he sharpens a dagger to hit at you. He has reportedly perfected intrique and corporate politics yet he is short on honesty.
Money goes like water
In February, UWA paid out Shs 7.075million to GEn. Kahinda Otafiire reportedly for a trip to Rukungiri to visit areas ravaged by wild animals. The Under secretary at Tourism Emmanuel Olaunah asked for the money.
UWA through Seguya's ordered the payment. However, the money was to be banked in ministry account NO.100160-005 according to the payment voucher, a copy of which your blogger obtained. Later, the money was paid to Olaunah who signed for it on February 15. Sources say Gen. Otafiire visited Rukungiri for only one day and the Shs7million was blown like that.
Then in April, one Edna Nandudu, wrote to Seguya to again facilitate Otafiire's visit to Mt. Elgon National Park to talk to the surrounding communities. The visit was to last 10 days. UWA paid out Shs 9.56million. The minister's visit again lasted one day!
Seguya is unable to question these payments because he sees a bigger picture--he wants support of the ministry to continue bossing UWA.
As this happens, Seguya is cracking hard on other staff he perceives a problem especially those who have worked longer at the agency.
There is a near revolt in UWA because of Seguya's hypocritical management. Staff have been sending anonymous letters attacking Seguya and this has forced the man to block staff emails.
These days, staff emails are screened and access to internet limited.
Matters were worsened by an anonymous letter which said one top boss at UWA once stole a baby crocodile at UWEC. This boss reportedly connived with a whiteman who visited UWEC in a motorcycle. He went straight to the office and the two later visited the veterinary section. They carried something in a class box. The warder did not bother. It was untill the crocodile was intercepted by immigration officials at Entebbe airport that the matter became serious. Money later exhanged hands and the matter was abandoned at some stage. At least the croc survived. Sources say that most of the theft of wild animal species was linked to some senior conservationists.
That is Uganda's wild life story for now.