By Mulengera Reporters
MPs sitting on the Committee of Natural Resources have become sharply split with some writing to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga demanding removal of their chairman Kefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga). They accuse him of using his position to inappropriately interfere in the recruitment of the new Executive Director at Rural Electrification Agency (REA) whose long-serving incumbent Eng Geoffrey Turyahikayo must vacate office on Monday 8thJuly. That will be the end of his 16 year tenure at the helm of rural electrification on which GoU has sunk trillions.
Mulengera News has glanced at a three page petition which MPs have written to Kadaga urging her to crack the whip on Kefa Kiwanuka whose Friday 31st May letter they say was self-seeking and misleading.
Kiwanuka told Mulengera News that he wrote the letter in good faith urging the President to use his executive powers as Head of State to prevent the REA Governing Board from replacing Turyahikayo.
“I acted in good faith and I thought this was consistent with what we discussed as a committee during the budgeting process meeting we had with officials from the Energy Ministry. In that meeting, reference was made to REA matters and we were all unanimous something wasn’t right. And this was way before things escalated [to the point of the BoD using their 27th May meeting to declare Turyahikayo unfit for retention],” MP Kiwanuka explained in the phone interview.
“We tabled our concerns to top management of the Ministry and colleagues were all there and acquiesced. Although that letter bears my signature, I wasn’t alone. Many other members were behind me and as chair I was tasked to write to the President calling on him to intervene and investigate claims that the ED was being witch-hunted.” Kefa adds that some of the MPs are fighting him for writing that “well-intentioned” letter because “they don’t know the full story of REA.”
He adds that as committee chairperson, he received complaints that the ED Turyahikayo was being witch-hunted for acting as a whistle blower who reported his Deputy (Technical) Godfrey Khaukha Werikhe to the Board for failing to do his job properly. That as a result of Turyahikayo’s whistle-blowing, a technical audit was undertaken into delivery and installation of fake meters, fake transformers and rotten electricity poles, an area directly falling under Werikhe’s docket.
Asked who the complainant was that reported to him as committee chairperson, Kiwanuka said: “Those things have been out there for some time and even UMEME, UEDCL and others have been complaining.” He says as the person who was keenly following the technical audit, Turyahikayo is inappropriately being removed at a time when he deserves support of the Board to implement the findings of the technical audit report. He says when such concerns first came to his attention, they as MPs directed Energy Minister Irene Muloni (in 2018) to ensure broader investigations were carried out regarding intrigue among REA employees and action be taken but he is now saddened Muloni never acted.
He wonders why the Board forces Turyahikayo out at a time when he is overseeing the determination of terms of reference to be followed while making use of the technical audit process to put things right and ensure there is value for money on the projects undertaken by REA. Kefa Kiwanuka, who has been committee chair for one year since fellow Kiboga politician GCW Ruth Nankabirwa deployed him there, says Turyahikayo ought not to be herded out because as ED, he has keenly been following up on the outcomes of the technical auditing process. He also says ushering in new leadership at this point in time will deprive REA of continuity and institutional memory yet there are many rural electrification programs that must be quickly implemented to boost the President and NRM’s chances at reelection in 2021.
He says whereas he admits it’s the mandate of the Board to recruit and determine who they hire as CEO at REA, it’s politically prudent for the President to intervene and enforce sanity at REA. “We are merely advising in that letter and the President may or may not act the way we are suggesting. That is his discretion but as a committee we can’t keep quiet and by the way even if they gang up and I’m silenced, I’m sure someone else is going to raise that REA issue on the floor of Parliament next week [UTL style]. I expect someone to come up with a motion and it really doesn’t have to be me as Kefa,” said the man who replaced Alex Byarugaba.
The Board he accuses of letting down ED Turyahikayo comprises of 5 representatives including PS Energy Ministry and PSST Keith Muhakanizi who told Mulengera News he was uncomfortable commenting on events at REA having been away for some time. Muhakanizi rightly said: “I don’t want to say so and so is right or wrong. That would be premature. I will first understand the entire situation and properly comment about what has been happening.” He said in case MPs raise an issue that has merit, the Board would be in order to look into it even when legally it’s their sole mandate to independently conduct recruitment of the CEO at REA.
Mulengera News was unable to speak to the Energy Ministry PS Robert Kasande (who also chairs REA board) as he was reported to be out of the country.
Saying he was surprised five NRM members (Wamakuyu Mudini, Silas Aogon, Fredrick Anguria, Ayoo Tonny and Anna Maria Nankabirwa) had decided to petition the Speaker calling for his ouster, Kefa claimed that consensus was to have a meeting on Monday to see how the two committee factions can harmonize their views and position on the REA ED job. “We have just been in Hoima for the public hearing and I was shocked when some members demanded that we use the room where we had de-briefing to hold a committee meeting on the REA issue. It was strange and we resolved to meet on Tuesday and I’m now surprised that they have petitioned the Speaker,” Kefa said of the petition that was also copied to Premier Ruhakana Rugunda and PPS to the President Molly Kamukama.
The petitioners accuse Kefa of purporting to communicate a committee position to the President regarding REA ED recruitment yet there has never been such a meeting. They ask Kadaga to reach out to the President and ask him to disregard that what Kefa communicated to him because those are merely his personal views and not the committee’s. Kefa said much as it’s almost a month since he wrote to the President, he hadn’t yet received any response. Neither is he aware if the big man took any steps to address concerns raised therein. Some of the committee members include Roland Kaginda, Edmund Ariko, Jimmy Akena and Florence Namayanja who promised to give her views on securing concurrence of other committee members. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).