COMMENT | Samson Tinka | “The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action — an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign — even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo,” says Bill Taylor, in an article titled ‘Do You Pass the Leadership Test?’
He goes on to add that, “In other words, real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.”
This seems to be the journey that the acting leadership at Uganda airlines have taken.
In an article published on 30th Oct 2021 in The Independent “Board Chairman calls for sacking of Uganda Airlines CEO”, the board chairman Perez Godfrey Ahabwe wrote a letter to current Minister for Works and Transport titled ‘Further evidence of conflict of interest, moral turpitude and mismanagement of Uganda airlines’.
The merits and demerits of the letter will be conceived by the Minister, Gen Katumba Wamala, and certainly the General that I know will respond to the author, investigate the allegations and act accordingly.
That notwithstanding, from the logical point of view, Ahabwe was bestowed with the mandate as Board chairman of Uganda Airlines to give both strategic and operational direction of the airline from the onset. The board members under Ahabwe surely scored some points and missed others.
The appointing authority then relieved them of their duties under specific instructions that included investigations. Until the investigations are concluded and a verdict pronounced, it’s in order that they cease fire on matters concerning the airline.
Jennifer M Bamuturaki was appointed in acting capacity as CEO and still leading the team. Until the previous board is cleared on the current and previous allegations, they should stay in hibernation.
It is not proper for the board chairman to start accusing the current CEO of this and that. Institutions need stability and support to be able to create, build and sustain an environment that supports, processes, procedures, strategies and operational competencies. The culture of accusation and counter accusation don’t build strong institutions.
It is very common in Uganda that when the appointing authority picks a person, he is hailed but when he disappoints for one reason or another, the blame game starts.
We must acknowledge where we individually or as teams that we lead fail. We must practice a culture of accepting and owning our misgivings especially when dealing with public offices. It’s a sign of maturity and loyalty.
I recall in 2003, when by then Brig Gen Tumukunde was dropped by the President as ISO Director General, there was an allegation that he had refused to hand over office to Col Kayanja until the president explained to him why he was sacked.
Gen Tinyefuza (Sejusa) and other Political leaders including Prime Minister Nsibambi went there to witness the handover. Lt. Gen. Tinyefuza reportedly told Brig. Tumukunde that he could not question the powers of the president and commander in chief to sack him.
“Who are you to question the president on deployment? Why didn’t you ask him to explain why he appointed you?” Lt. Gen. Tinyefuza reportedly said then.
The board chairman needs to wait for the verdict after investigations against the allegations on him and other board members before he can recommend any action.
During investigations, the accused conduct is critical to findings and even litigation if the case goes to court. The board chairman’s accusations seem to be personnel and inconsequential towards building strong systems that the airline deserves.
What is evidential and un-disputed is that some gains have been recorded especially after the airbuses that were grounded for a long time hit the skies in September after fulfilling both national and international requirements. The Dubai flights begun on 4th Oct and this was a huge milestone.
Reshaping of Uganda airlines is happening and there seem to be some semblance of peace, order, and professionalism.
Building of right systems, processes, procedures and inculcating of a positive culture is always a long journey that requires all stakeholders support, efforts and well wishes.
At this time Uganda Airlines doesn’t need any detractors but promoters. It’s possible to slow down the airlines growth curve not because of lack of resources (human and material resources) but because of negative media propaganda and its effects.
Ahabwe seem to fit in John Maxwell words, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
Adjust the sail Ahabwe . Support the current leadership from back office, who knows, when cleared after the ongoing investigation of the board, you need to find a good and well-functioning airline. As Ugandans when do we positives from any situation?
Fortunately, the majority Ugandans have supported the airline. The passenger figures are overwhelming, customers feedback is up in the sky. The Dubai route response is the best and the numbers are worth a toast. Why can’t we build on such pointers?
The history of Ethiopian Airlines comforts me. It was not all rosy from 1946 to date. Every time, I go through its journey, and I see what Uganda Airlines has been able to achieve in this short time, I kneel again to say a prayer that will propel our airline to greater heights.
I have had an opportunities to use this airline multiple times to different destinations and I have never been disappointed. That’s why I bleed internally when I see anything negative about Uganda Airlines especially in the media. When shall we realize that we have alternative means to score our points with people we seem to disagree without going to the media?
The current leadership should keep positioning themselves to the vision and mission of the airline. To the staff, don’t drop the ball. You owe the shareholders return on investment but most importantly you owe Ugandans an airline of choice.
Uganda airlines my airline, Uganda my country.
Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo