NEW KABUSHENGA VISION JOB EXIT DETAILS EMERGE SHOWING IT WASN’T VOLUNTARY
By Mulengera Reporter
Mulengera News investigators have become privy to new detailed information contradicting the false claim that Vision Group CEO Robert Kabushenga’s decision to opt out was a voluntary one. Far from it, the truth is that actually Gen Museveni told a recent meeting that he wanted him out immediately.
The President only reluctantly abandoned his hardline position after influential State House official David Mafabi (who is also a new Board member at Vision Group having joined at the beginning of January 2021 after Kabushenga lobbied for his posting) pleaded on grounds that humiliatingly herding the MD/CEO out in a dramatic way would have negative business implications Vision Group being a public-listed company. In initially rejecting Mafabi’s reasoning, the all-knowing man from Rwakitura argued there was nothing reputational about Vision Group to be protected anymore because the intelligence dossier (he kept reading from) clearly indicated a lot had gone wrong under Kabushenga even business-wise.
The President referenced on the erosion of investors’ money whereby things haven’t improved even after big shareholders like the Finance Ministry opted not taking anything out of the company at the end of every trading period. He even wondered why investors like NSSF (whose bosses preferred a cautious approach to shield their brand against potential bad Vision Group publicity) hadn’t yet moved away from such a poorly-performing business. The stakeholders at the meeting were shocked to realize how much information the graceful General from Rwakitura had about the state of business affairs at Vision Group.
In a separate meeting, the President had wondered why Kabushenga as MD kept defying the Board directives calling on him to close down some of the loss-making undertakings. He was furious that a larger part of Kabushenga’s 14 years had been spent investing/just expending what his predecessor William Pike had accumulated for the company while being invested in non-profit making ventures like Urban TV, some of the regional papers and of course the Luo TV which Gen Museveni says was wastefully put in placer just because the flamboyant MD wanted to cover up his failures elsewhere. He would be seen even by the public in the concerned regions as a failed business manager after the failure of some of the regional papers.
Another source says that the actions of Robert Kabushenga, who (having overcome the JPAM curse) resorted to winning the favor of the First Family by always preserving the page 3 for the First Lady’s Education Ministry and other activities, in the period preceding his exit notice don’t show a man who was wishful of taking early retirement. That his supporters in the Company Executive Committee (EXCO) had been lobbying the Board members, through the HR Committee, to propose the scrapping of the upper age limit so that such never stands in his way. The same Kabushenga supporters are understood to have frustrated the company’s succession plan by ensuring whoever exhibited any credentials for a future Vision Group CEO was gotten rid of. Examples include ex-Head of Marketing Suzan Nsibirwa and even DMD Gervase Ndyanabo (an excellent finance person) who was sidelined by being strategically assigned the role of Company Board Secretary which deprived him of visibility and kept him busy with the Governing Board business.
Sources further say that the intolerance with which Kabushenga supporters always responded to those perceived as big-headed implied an MD or CEO who wasn’t thinking about retirement or any voluntary exit anytime soon. Head Marketing Dorothy Muttu (who replaced Nsibirwa) was frequently given as an example of the top EXCO member who frequently had it rough having been identified by the MD’s sycophants as not being adequately loyal.
Sometime back, a low-rank officer was rejected by her mother department whose managers considered her not good enough and recommended redundancy which discomforted people in the MD’s office and allies in the HR Department. The rejected low-rank officer cried out to the CEO/MD’s officer for help so that she doesn’t go into joblessness. Given its vastness, it was decided the rejected staffer gets deployed into the Marketing Department which naturally is very lucrative and be aided to get hold of big-spending clients or accounts. Muttu, being a very principled lady, objected saying having examined the officer, she didn’t find her suitable for the role the MD’s office was pressing her to take her for.
This hesitation by Muttu resulted into bad blood and in the end, the MD’s office tried to hijack the Board’s powers to fire her yet her caliber are a mandate of the board when it comes to any job or recruitment-related decisions. Mulengera News has seen email exchanges including the October 2020 mail which was written to her indicating the top EXCO wasn’t recommending her for retention at the expiry of her contract as Head of Marketing which was due. This is the lady who replaced Nsibirwa and, just like here predecessor, she was initially resented for always objecting to marketing strategies that would be proposed from the MD/CEO’s office whenever she considered them inappropriate. Examples include spending and investing in things like the Harvest Money Expo at Namboole, the twins’ festival, sending best teachers or even farmers abroad.
With the support of some members of the relevant Board committees, Muttu contended that much as Vision Group as a company would get visibility, these undertakings weren’t positively impacting on the revenue side for the business. There was also concern that some individual top officials would somehow benefit via visibility and in pecuniary ways all at the expense of the company whose shareholders expect an excellent dividend at the end of the trading period. On many occasions, the MD’s office incited the Head Audit to dig up stuff on Muttu but the Board kept rejecting the resultant recommendations if not reversing them. The MD’s office tried to cajole members of the relevant HR Committee of the Board into ratifying Muttu’s expulsion but this was rejected and the same was later confirmed by the whole Board whose members considered her hard working and fit for retention. She must be having the last laugh because her tormentor Kabushenga is leaving her behind with a huge possibility to have her contract generously extended.
Knowledgeable State House sources say that, at the prompting of the intelligence reports he kept getting, Gen Museveni reached a point of becoming suspicious of Kabushenga’s future ambitions. “He must have perceived him as someone who was building up to certain political ambitions for the future after intelligence reports consistently alleged these undertakings weren’t about just publicizing Vision Group as a brand but Kabushenga, the CEO, as a person. Those best farmers, teachers or even downtown traders who were sent to Netherlands or even Dubai under the sponsorship of the company came back singing Kabushenga’s name saying he is the one who took them abroad,” says a State House official privy to the Kabushenga matter.
“This created personal clout and credit Mr. Kabushenga would personally walk away with beyond the Vision Group job. He was equally using those Vision Group initiatives to endear himself to people in the Church, at Mengo, in the business community, informal sector, the sports fraternity and even the districts upcountry. And he is naturally a very ambitious charming guy as you know. People in intelligence, who disliked him for one reason or another, built on such things to create some resentment in the President towards the person of Kabushenga who in the past had already been portrayed to him as a Mbabazi man.”
The source adds that the circumstances under which Kabushenga used his CEO office to reach out and create personal relations with influential diplomats and ambassadors at the Chinese and several Western embassies left many Gen Museveni handlers whispering “but how far will this man go?” Gratefully, being a state institution, Kabushenga always had to involve the Board to get them ratify many of these relationships. First it was the Chinese thing which started as an essay competition. He introduced the matter in a Board meeting seeking the same to be sanctioned. Members were cautious and urged him to wait as they consult. Before they even got back to him, stuff relating to Ugandan travellers sharing their experiences in China began being published in the New Vision.
“But these are merely letters of Ugandans sharing their travel experiences. I don’t see any foreign policy complications such can cause for the country,” Kabushenga said in a subsequent Board meeting when some members asked the hard questions as to why management went into implementation without board ratification. The defiant MD argued such was good to create additional platform and visibility for the Vision brand but Board members remained dissatisfied demanding that he illustrates how such makes business sense for their bosses; the shareholders.
Saying some of them were after him personally, the MD (whose complicated character sources say is the reason ex-Board Chairperson Monica Chibita wasn’t enthusiastic about taking 2nd term and who previously had thrown out fellow EXCO members) began throwing tantrums before furiously storming out of the meeting. Subsequently, what started as Chinese essay competitions was expanded into a weekly pullout publicizing Chinese investments and infrastructural contributions in Uganda.
The Board members fumed and demanded that the MD explains himself in writing which he didn’t do. And his defiant approach is the reason more Board members became disillusioned resulting into voluntary exit (not showing enthusiasm for retention or renewal at the end of their mandate). Many of them felt the MD/CEO was trying to be their boss yet it’s supposed to be the other way round.
There was/is also another weekly section or pull out focusing on Indian which too many Board members weren’t very excited about but the MD/CEO carried out with it even after failing to illustrate how the same made business sense for the company and shareholders. Board members vetoed several proposed equipment procurements which the MD/CEO went ahead to implement nevertheless. All these combined to complicate the relationship between RK and his Board members who (unknown to him) protested by writing a huge dossier to the President.
Their dossier came at a time the big man from Rwakitura had already been getting many whistle blower information from disgruntled insiders and Kabushenga’s fellow EXCO members. Gen Museveni considered the information contained in the Board members’ dossier to be corroborating what disgruntled staffers and intelligence report authors had for long been confiding in him about RK’s unsuitability to continue holding the CEO Job at Vision Group.
In their dossier, the Board members also complained about RK using the Vision Group facilities and financing to build his own personal brand, a thing that greatly intrigued Gen Museveni who kept asking “now building a personal brand for what and to what end?” The worst thing in the Board members’ dossier was a reference to the DGF funding which they explained to Gen Museveni as a clear attempt to allow powerful Western governments to directly influence the company’s editorial content and policy. The Board members highlighted what intelligence report authors had already brought to the attention of the President wondering why a well-funded state-owned news organization like Vision Group would sign onto a business relationship that would permit the DGF/EU funders to determine the type of stories that had to be carried on the front page and all the other company platforms (more over strictly negative stuff about the very government which co-owns the company).
The Board members also informed Gen Museveni that before that business relationship (of DGF paying big monies to facilitate Vision Group newspapers, Bukedde, TV and Radio journalists to write and promote scandalous news about the GoU), the MD Robert Kabushenga had unsuccessfully sought their approval. Gen Museveni couldn’t believe why the MD (whose personal relations with key EU Ambassadors whose home governments actually fund DGF to the tune of Shs500bn per year was already discomforting a paranoid State House) would go ahead with such a potentially very damaging project in total defiance of his supervisors in the Board. In their dossier, the Board members informed Gen Museveni that on being confronted for going ahead to implement the DGF GoU scandalization campaign without their approval, the flamboyant CEO/MD simply told them “but we already have similar relations with the Chinese and Indians.” That he didn’t see anything wrong with Vision Group equally working with all these contending interests of these foreign powers. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com)