The Zambian former Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Airlines, Mr. Cornwell Muleya could have been innocent for all accusations that led to his oust.
It is such a perplexing matter as you may discover in this article what was taking place behind the scenes at the recently revamped national airlines.
The Ugandan mafia appears to be so powerful than often perceived. As in who knew the Uganda Airlines CEO a few months back would be in jail today?
Last year, while still CEO, Muleya had written to Museveni complaining about corruption, nepotism, influence peddling etc at the Airlines. In his letter, Muleya said most of the Uganda Airlines board members were pushing selfish interests as opposed to those of the airlines.
Whereas the Board should have limited itself to structures, strategy and policy levels, it was directly interfering in the day to day management issues of the airline.
This unhealthy practice had led them into finding ways of invoice loading and other money-making schemes from the airline that employs them.
They interfered with management areas especially in the areas of procurement and staff recruitment in the airline. The interference in recruitment resulted in nepotism as the Board members started filling the Airline with relatives and friends while for procurement, they started up shadowy companies and started awarding themselves contracts. Luckily for a contract to go ahead, it needed Muleya’s signature as an MD. He managed to block such contracts.
Because of this, some board members openly told him that he is “too rigid and inflexible on this issue of corruption and people are finding it hard to work with me”. They advised that he must try to understand how business is done in Uganda because these practices are normal in this country, otherwise I will find myself alone!
Normal practices? Indeed when the ministry internal auditors and auditors from the Auditor General came to the airline to perform their audit reviews, Muleya was advised by his staff in finance that the first group asked to be paid US$50,000 in order to give a good report on the airline, to which he said no. The second group also wanted to be paid an amount in the region of UGX100-150M also to give a good report and he advised his staff to let them know that such practices have no place at Uganda Airlines because we work on the principles of full accountability.
It didn’t take long before the mafia dealt with Muleya’s ‘big hardheadedness’ or not Ugandan way of doing things the He was suspended and later his contract terminated by the same board he had complained about for all of those vices.
Upon termination of his contract, Muleya ran to court seeking compensation or reinstatement in his position as CEO. Govt never turned up in court on all occasions. The only time it turned up was when arresting him for allegedly ignoring IGG summons. Why was the IGG summoning him? They wanted to investigate him for exactly the same crimes he complained about to Museveni – corruption, nepotism and influence peddling, according to media reports. Isn’t that arresting a whistle blower? One thing I’ve failed to understand though, is Muleya being accused of nepotism! For starters, Muleya is a Zambian. How many Zambians were working at Uganda Airlines? If you did a simple audit, you would instead trace the relations of the employees to the board.
Could the arrest be intended to scare him to run for dear life and forget about his compensation?
Though once back in Zambia, I’m sure his story can make a very good Hollywood Mafia movie he should think about.