Sunday , November 29 2020
Home / Cover Story / Muhakanizi, Isabalija ‘fight’ sparks Shs 30bn UEGCL audit

Muhakanizi, Isabalija ‘fight’ sparks Shs 30bn UEGCL audit

Workers at the 600MW Karuma Hydro power dam.

The audit is, however, being looked at suspiciously because Isabalija’s team stepped on many toes and fought ferocious battles for UEGCL to gain full control of the billions surrounding the implementation of the two projects worth over $ 2 billion.

The UEGCL officials were on one side led by Isabalija and Energy Ministry officials on the other hand led by Kaliisa.

The fight sucked in President Yoweri Museveni, who got furious about the shoddy works at the power dams, called for an investigation, suspended implicated officials, appointed a new team of supervisors and lastly replaced Kalisa with Isabalija who had lifted the lid off the mess surrounding the projects.

In an ironic twist, however, barely a few months after winning the coveted control, Isabalija was removed from UEGCL and given Kabagambe’s office – which he had always argued does not have the mandate to oversee the two major projects.

With Isabalija out of UEGCL, his position had to be filled. Indeed, it is the filling of this post that sparked the first clash between him and Muhakanizi. Isabalija was appointed PS Energy on November 4 last year in a major reshuffle of Permanent Secretaries.

And the battle to appoint his replacement broke out almost instantly pitting him against Muhakanizi albeit indirectly. The directive for the audit also came around the same time.

Once, Isabalija was out, the Minister of State for Investment and Privatization, Evelyn Anite, under whose docket appointing the UEGCL board chair falls, reached out to Matia Kasaija, the Finance Minister, whose position makes him a stakeholder in UEGCL. Apparently Kasaija gave her the greenlight to appoint a new board chair for the power generator.

But as she put together the appointment letter, another letter emerged now from the Finance Ministry appointing another candidate.

Anite’s choice was Proscovia Njuki, whose appointment, in a letter copied to Kasaija and Muhakanizi, she argued, was intended to allow a smooth transition and ensure continuity of board activities with minimal interruption. Njuki had been serving on the board under Isabalija and was the natural choice for him and by extension, all UEGCL officials.

But it appears that at the time Kasaija gave the greenlight to Anite, he was not aware that Muhakanizi, who runs the Finance Ministry, had other plans.

Muhakanizi had already picked Frank Katusiime, a former chairman of the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) for the job.

Anite would later reveal that she had overheard Kasaijja asking Muhakanizi who the man (Katusiime) they had picked for the job was. Muhakanizi confirmed that it is indeed him who had picked Katusiime.

A letter appointing Katusiime appeared on Nov.9. And another appointing Njuki appeared on Nov.11.

When Kasaija tried to get Anite to drop Njuki to avoid a situation where they appeared to be in a fight, Anite went for the jugular.

She questioned whether Njuki was being denied the job because she was a woman, from a certain region and even Katusiime’s integrity. While serving as the board chairperson for UETCL between 2006 and 2009, a parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase), then led by MP Regan Okumu, accused Katusiime of influence peddling because the entity bought his building on Plot 10, Hannington road at Shs 7.7 billion, a figure MPs said over-valued it.

In the end, the Muhakanizi camp led by Kasaija balked and Njuki became the new UEGCL boss.

But while publicly, a war appeared between Anite and Kasaijja, the real war was between Isabalija and the UEGCL camp on one hand, which favoured their own—Njuki—and the Muhakanizi camp, which preferred Katusiime.

In the end, Katusiime lost the job to Njuki. But Muhakanizi was not done fighting. He penned a memo calling for an audit of UEGCL. Not known to shy away from a good fight, Isabalija, who was just a months old in his new office also hit back. Insider sources say, Isabalija questioned where the PS/ST was deriving powers to direct the AG to audit UEGCL. He added that if that audit was necessary, UEGCL should not be audited alone but together with all other Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including Finance itself. Nevertheless, the Auditor General appears to have followed Muhakanizi’s directive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *