M7 FINALLY CRACKS WHIP ON KAGINA AS CABINET VOTES TO DISBAND UNRA
By Our Reporters
Multiple sources spoken to for this article confirm that during this week’s cabinet meeting, President Museveni made a submission in which he was critical and had no kind words for the performance of the current UNRA management under Maddam Allen Kagina. That the big man said he was disappointed with performance at the Nakawa-based roads Authority that actually takes the lion’s share of the country’s national budget. “He sounded so furious with their ineptness and in a subsequent vote, cabinet voted for the transfer of the entity’s mandate back to the mother ministry of works,” said a cabinet minister whose version was corroborated by two other colleagues and a Presidential aide that was in attendance. This is how a Presidential assistant explained: “There have been plans to restructure government and public service and unfortunately our sister [Kagina]’s UNRA is evidently going to be among the first casualties. Nobody is going to involuntarily lose employment. They are going to be integrated into the ministry’s Public Works Department and their salaries won’t be significantly altered.” It was clarified that this retention won’t be automatic. The interested UNRA employees will have to apply and go through a basic recruitment process meant to regularize their transition from UNRA to the mainstream works ministry. The public service commission and ministry will have some role to play in harmonizing the integration of UNRA employees that will be interested in deployment at the Works Ministry headed by Eng Monica Azuba Ntege who ironically was recommended and marketed to Museveni by Kagina among other power brokers as suitable for appointment in Cabinet.
The slow procurement of EPC contractors for politically very significant jobs like Busega-Mpigi, Rukungiri-Kanungu and others is understood to have prompted Museveni to become increasingly impatient with the current UNRA ineptness. The very bad relationship between Fred Omach-led governing board and Kagina-led management has only made things more complicated at Nakawa. State House has previously had to intervene to prevent the Omach Board from doing what the UIA’s board sometime back did to Jolly Kaguhangire at the Uganda Investments Authority. There were proposals that Board chairman Omach be supported with a brand new vehicle, a hefty monthly retainer and a body guard, something Kagina-led management rightly rejected as being wasteful with the tax payer’s money. Some board members like Works Ministry’s Engineer in Chief Samson Bagonza (a man not far from retirement) have been accused of siding with some extremist UNRA top management members to isolate and undermine Omach and other like-minded board members. In recently intervening to pacify UNRA, State House was bothered by intelligence reports that in their impending move to oust Kagina, Board members had been inspired by the UIA coup that saw Emily Kugonza-led Board successfully force hitherto very powerful Jolly Kaguhangire out of office even when she was known to have powerful backers. Yet there are some striking similarities between Kagina and Jolly Kaguhangire’s experiences; they are both deeply very prayerful born again ladies and are contemporaries at URA where they are reputed to have derived their management style. Some board members, who are said to hate Kagina for refusing to materially look after them, have indeed not hidden their contempt for the current management at UNRA. Indeed Kagina’s diehard sympathizers blame her woes on a clique of Board members patronized by Board Chairman Fred Omach. Some speak of the invisible hand of now obscure past UNRA kingmaker Brig John Mugyenyi who is a renowned blue eyed boy of Gen Salim Saleh, the smooth-operating humble younger brother to the President. But the consulting engineers’ fraternity, which has always had a borne to pick with Kagina, were cautious in their response. “We have had issues with her and the way she deprived us of business in favor of cost-saving in-house services but that doesn’t make us excited about UNRA being disbanded and dissolved into the mother works ministry. Those guys at works are worse because whereas Kagina was a thick-skinned person and treated us with indifference, she is still better than those guys at Works. She was only too cautious and reacted with paranoia whenever self-seeking UNRA managers deceptively told her bad things about us but she never fronted any proxy companies to compete for jobs. But those guys at Works have companies which openly compete and that will be the total end of the genuine private sector partaking of the roads’ budget,” said one of the consulting engineers that has always been very critical of Kagina. ”The ineptness of the current management shouldn’t push government to totally disband UNRA because it was a good approach. It’s good to get new leadership at Nakawa yes but don’t dissolving UNRA wouldn’t be a good solution.” For feedback, reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org