Uganda Telecom Limited: President Museveni letter to Hon. Evelyn Anite – “Re: Audit of Uganda Telecommunications Limited” (16.07.2019)
I write what I like.
We can lie to ourselves, we all do it now and then, and even the most holy of us does it, but acts like saints. Nevertheless, the realities are hard-hitting and not as people tend it too be. In the recent days, there been steady scandals in two institutions connected to the government of Uganda. This being the Bank of Uganda and Uganda Telecom Limited. Both whose place is vital and both under “ownership” of the state.
They have very different roles in society, as one is the Reserve Bank and the one that follows direct guidelines of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, while the same Ministry owns the other! That is why there are some of the same aspects, as the stories are pouring out.
The BoU is rocked by lack of due diligence, lack of minutes, lack of working after protocol and procurement. The UTL is lacking leadership, lacking structure or even basic control from the state. Both is run by the MoFPED and still has the same issues. It is like they are two ugly siblings and none of these bastards can get a date.
The BoU is the epitome of corrupt behaviour from buying pens, securing quick-fix funds for trading commercial banks and so on. While the UTL have shady-back-door deals with willy-nilly abroad in Mauritius or Nigeria, even some skeletons in Libya. Still, even if Hon. Evelyn Anite tries every avenue and use all parts of the dictionary, she still doesn’t have the powers to sack the ones running UTL, because the MoFPED is involved and who knows how the President Museveni micromanages these state owned enterprises. Since his known for guidance everywhere in the Republic. That is why Hon. Anite had to send a letter to him to further her cause in the UTL saga.
We can lie to ourselves, but not that it does any good. At this point, the involvement of the state, the known actors and only the small-fries are getting caught. The ones doing the heist, doing the handshakes and getting the kick-backs from there is working directly with the State House. That is well known and not unknown, they even ask permission before doing so. This is what they do. Its only the ones who doesn’t ask who ends in the files of various departments fighting corruption. Even if they end up there, they might lose the paperwork or minutes before investigation, as the loyal subjects clear the house. So, that the big-man on top, doesn’t get humiliated.
This is just what is up and what is going down. These men who runs these SOEs are allowed to what they do, because the higher power let them do it and they are all eating. Especially, when the “high above” sanctions it, its all cool, but if he doesn’t get a cut; than there is an issue and someone have to pay. That is the end-game, that is why it continues and why it floats like this. Not because this is a healthy practice or even a way that the state should govern, but this is what they are known to do.
The UTL and BoU have similar issues, they are doing similar acts, but with different enterprises. We can act a fool, but that will still not save the face of the ones running it. Sooner or later, someone will fall on the sword of their master. Right now its not needed, but when these two institutions needs a boost of confidence, someone will swallow their pride and do their last act of mercy. That is just how it goes. We just don’t know who will fall and for what cause, other than saving the high above from humiliation. Peace.
Since March 2017, the Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) have been struggling, it started even before then, but at that time. The state started to intervene, by the next month in April 2017. The state had already put the company under provincial ownership. Meaning, that the state took it over and has tried to find new ownership of this company. Something it hasn’t succeeded in. This all happened because of the Libyan crisis in 2011 and the frozen accounts of Libya Post Telecommunications & IT Company (LPTIC), which had a majority ownership in the UTL until that point. However, they didn’t get all out before March 2017. Even as there was a set-up a new board in the Company in fall of 2016. Even, with all of this, the UTL continues to live, but by mere state injections and not because it is viable for business.
Even after a year in May 2018, the Cabinet announced that they were looking for new owners, alas, meaning that the state wouldn’t have the major stake in the company. Why I am saying all this? Well, the news this week that Minister Evelyn Anite and government sources states this:
“The source added that the government had created incentives to make the company more attractive. They include managing the backbone, wiping all the liabilities off the balance sheet, and that the government would take responsibility for the pension liability of more than Shs 30 billion to former UTL employees. Other liabilities that the government would take care of include the regulator’s fees and taxes. “All these wipe off the balance sheet and handed it [UTL] to you, clearly you can start from a clean slate.” the source said” (URN – ‘Gov’t offers to pay Shs 500bn UTL liabilities’ 20.04.2019, link: https://observer.ug/news/headlines/60467-gov-t-offers-to-pay-shs-500bn-utl-liabilities).
With this in mind, the state would clean the slate of the company, an embattled one who is fighting in a competitive market. Where it is directly competing against the mighty MTN and Airtel. Therefore, the UTL needs an decent upgrade, as it has been in a stalemate for years now. Where the lack of investment in the company and the debt it have already.
We can clearly see that the company is not so viable. The lack of interest and value is shown as the President even needed to direct the state ministries to use the UTL Internet Services and mobile phone services by a letter in January 2018. That is why, a year after that, the government sources are trying to connect it even more and juice it up. Even if it has little to offer.
The UTL doesn’t look solid or offering something of strong value for a buyer. As it has a strong competition and they are on point when concerning the telecom infrastructure, which the UTL haven’t the ability to afford to do or invest in. Therefore, the next owner has to pick up, where the Libyan owners left off. Since, the state haven’t done anything else, than keeping it alive. Peace.