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UGANDA AIRLINES PILOTS PLOT STRIKE OVER CEO MULEYA EXIT

By Mulengera Reporters     

KK, an influential cabin crew member working with Uganda Airlines is so much in love with his MD/CEO Cornwell Muleya to the extent he can’t imagine life without him being in the driving seat. According to Uganda Airlines Board Chairman Pereza Ahabwe, Muleya’s 6 months period of service as Ag CEO end at the end of this very month of February implying the workaholic Zambian will have to ease out of the company whether he likes it or not.

Ahabwe says Profiles International, an HR recruitment firm based in the US has already been awarded the lucrative deal to search globally and identify the most suitable CEO for Uganda Airlines. The search is globally open implying we might end up with an excellent foreigner serving as the substantive MD for Uganda Airlines. This is something, knowledgeable sources say, the President and his brother Gen Salim Saleh have acquiesced to-clearly putting emphasis on merit and competence as opposed to one’s nationality.

Muleya’s tenure as CEO was preceded with Ephraim Bagenda serving as CEO. Bagenda, who eased out of the CEO job because of too much pressure from some leaders at the mother ministry, currently serves as the Director Engineering & Maintenance, a capacity in which he earns very good money in salary and other forms of remuneration. In his case, the deeply knowledgeable Muleya previously served as Technical Advisor and was marketed to the President as the man who excellently served as CEO for Air Uganda.

CHAOS ERUPT

But the impending Muleya exit has since sparked chaos with some of the pilots resorting to mobilizing colleagues to protest his departure by plotting to go on strike. The indifference approach with which Muleya has ran the show at Uganda Airlines has enabled some of the shrewd younger executives to make quick buck and lead lifestyles that are way above what their current remuneration can sustain. Some say it’s the very reason some want him to stay on so that they continue chewing their curious groceries without anyone interfering. Knowledgeable insiders say desire to appease everybody so that in the end he gets himself confirmed as substantive CEO has caused the otherwise very prudent Muleya to adopt this “I won’t interfere” approach to things that are detrimental to the organization he leads.

Mulengera News is impeccably informed that at the instigation of KK; the aggrieved Uganda Airlines pilots will this weekend convene a meeting to discuss the approach to use to show displeasure at the Muleya impending departure. The fuming pilots are also understood to be scheming on how to win over Director Ground Handling for the Airline Harvey Kalama, a very powerful Kenya, to buy into their view that Muleya must stay put or else the operations get disrupted. They are determined to make it risky for anyone to touch Muleya and get him out of the CEO job. 

THE JUBA DEAL

The impending Muleya departure comes at a time when a whistleblower has petitioned the IGG Irene Mulyagonja demanding inquiry into the circumstances under which the South Sudanese firm was chosen to offer all grounding handling services. The whistleblower demands that the IGG looks into how the due diligence was conducted on the company which, despite being more expensive and less experienced, was given the job ahead of Capt Kassami’s DAS Air services. That right from the beginning two of the Uganda Airlines officials involved in conducting the due diligence showed open bias against DAS Air despite the GoU’s BuBu policy being very clear on local content, for which the President has been the most eloquent spokesman. That the IGG should inquire into the circumstances surrounding the choosing of two key suppliers-one for ground handling and the other for fuel supply.

In the poorly negotiated ground handling contract, the South Sudanese firm was permitted to cheat GoU by charging $530 per flight to the exclusion of DAS Air which had quoted mere $450 per flight. As if that wasn’t inept enough, the Sudanese firm was allowed to factor in 17% to cater for VAT yet the Sudanese tax regime doesn’t comprise of VAT anywhere.  It’s curious why the Uganda Airlines officials couldn’t object to this open cheating of the GoU whose interests they are employed and generously remunerated to safeguard. When you factor in the 17% VAT, the amount the Sudanese firm charges per flight comes to $620 which clearly is unjustifiably very high given that, having clearly indicated there would be no VAT on whatever they charge, DAS Air had quoted just $450 per flight.

What has also continued to intrigue many insiders at the Airline is the fact that Kenyans are being over employed in the Airline operations to the extent that they easily outnumber Ugandans for the Juba International Office where Ugandans have had to be bypassed to ensure Kenyans have field day for the comfort of the all-powerful Harvey Kalama the Ground Handling Manager for Uganda Airlines. The ever-deepening exclusion of Ugandans from lucrative positions is justified on grounds that “they are uncooperative [whatever that means].” This is consistent with the extreme selfishness Kenyan UR managers exhibited sometime back when they discouraged the idea of taking up office space at the Ugandan Embassy in Nairobi where Ambassador Phoebe Otala had offered space to strengthen the airline and ease sales and marketing operations. Instead the powerful Kenyans preferred paying colossal sums of money renting office space on 10th floor of a building owned by a Kenyan national in Nairobi. Otala didn’t take this lack of patriotism on part of the UR officials lightly and quickly wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa protesting what she called imprudent decision-making at Uganda Airlines.

Yet that isn’t all about the anomalous way of doing things at UR. There is also talk that one of the Sudanese firms that continue to be favored in the Juba Airport operations’ expenditure decisions was at some point manipulated to wet the beaks of some UR officials with sweeteners of $30,000 on top of passing on $100 on every $620 made per flight. That another would-be service provision competitor at the Juba Airport had offered mere $10,000 in sweeteners which was rejected as peanuts. Watch this space for more on this developing story. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

 

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