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Battle at government printer

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UPPC employee operating one of the large format printers. courtesy photo

Wrangles escalate as Corporation seeks Shs18 bn for new equipment, renovations, staff recruitment

Prolonged internal bickering at the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) is threatening the revival of the Entebbe- based government’s secret printer that has for many years operated at very low margins.

This follows the recruitment of Irene Muwanguzi as the managing director in December 2014 and her subsequent efforts to streamline the operations of the corporation.

The disagreements, however, reached at its peak on Sep 22, 2016 when police and other security personnel blocked her from accessing her office amidst a court order.

She was resuming her duties after a court ruling the previous day that blocked her removal from office until her appeal set for next month is concluded.

The Deputy Registrar of the Execution Division of the High Court, Muse Musimbi, issued the interim order allowing Muwanguzi to remain in office.

Justus Barugahare, a former employee of UPPC, sued the corporation’s Board on account that Muwanguzi was holding office unlawfully after expiry of her probation last December.

This came when termination of Muwanguzi’s contract in May last year on grounds of incompetence, abuse of office and insubordination was reversed by Inspector General of Government.

The Corporation, which has been in existence since 1993 under the Office of the President, has the mandate to supply stationary and provide printing and publishing services to all government ministries, agencies, and departments.

But the current predicament at UPPC could scuttle the government’s plans to revive the Corporation, which is currently synonymous with dilapidated buildings, obsolete computers and printers as result of low funding.

Also, the corporation is characterised by unqualified staff, low productivity, lack of creativity, intrigue, rumor mongering, discontent, complaints of low pay as well as low facilitation and low morale.

For that, the Corporation has involved in printing a small percentage of government secret documents leaving majority of sensitive documents such as passports, birth certificates, and money to foreign firms abroad over the past two decades.

In a letter dated Sep 15, 2016 addressed to President Yoweri Museveni and copied to Ester Mbayo, the minister for presidency, a copy of which The Independent has seen, Muwanguzi said the current situation at the Corporation has placed her in an awkward position given that she is at the forefront of coordinating critical programmes with potential investors geared towards revamping it.

She said together with a team of stakeholders, they recently visited Germany for a familiarization/learning visit with Veridose GMBH  “Follow-up actions therefore need to be taken and expedite on my on my part to ensure that we are time for a joint venture finalization and subsequent signing of the contract,” she wrote.

The Corporation is currently in urgent need of Shs18 billion for purchase of new and modern equipment, renovation of buildings, and recruitment of new staff.

Since her entry at UPPC, Muwanguzi has been keen on revamping UPPC but most members have either been indifferent or opposed to every effort she has tried to champion.

She is also  requesting  President Museveni that staff who have been cited in IGG investigation reports for impropriety be discontinued in order to ensure harmony and smooth continuity of operations at the Corporation. They include the corporation secretary, the finance and administration and the assistant human resource and  administration  manager.

She wants all employees to re-apply for the jobs following the organizational review, adding that they also need a new board of directors  with a new mindset to embrace the current and future strategies of UPPC.

President Museveni, however, is yet to respond to the letter. The revival of UPPC is part of President Museveni’s plans to reduce on printing sensitive documents abroad and creating jobs to the local population.

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