21 May 2011

Uganda: Broadcasting Corporation Managing Director Sacked

THE Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) managing director together with the entire management board have been sacked.

Information and national guidance minister Kabakumba Masiko yesterday said Edward Musinguzi and the board were fired to pave way for investigations into allegations that the country's public broadcaster was dogged by massive corruption.

"It is true the board and the managing director have been sacked. The rest of the employees are, however, not affected and work will continue normally," she said.

The board has been chaired by Chris Katuramu and the members were Pilkington Ssengendo, Dr. Daisy Namono, Fred Bamwesigye, Tom Okurut, Wandera and Oola.

Masiko, however, declined to give details on specific cases to be investigated, but a source conversant with the corporation said there were issues to do with the workers' NSSF contributions and gratuity that have not been paid.

Other areas according to the source were unclear circumstances under which the land belonging to the corporation, in Bugolobi an up-city suburb was sold and the loss of money accruing from advertisements during the 2010 World Cup, where UBC was the official broadcaster in Uganda.

Masiko said Paul Kihika, a commissioner in the gender and social development ministry had been appointed to temporarily manage the corporation, while the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister would for the time being oversee the operations of UBC.

Sources earlier said Musinguzi was ordered out of his office on Friday evening. Security reportedly stormed the UBC offices and ordered all employees out. They were reportedly ordered not to carry out any equipment such as cameras and laptops. UBC public relations officer Jane Kasumba was reluctant to discuss the matter saying she had not received briefing.

Deputy Police Spokesperson Vincent Ssekate, however, confirmed that the Police was deployed at the offices and within its precincts as the workers were thrown out of their offices, to prevent any possibility of violence.

UBC was founded as a result of the "Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act, 2004", which merged the operations of Uganda Television (UTV) and Radio Uganda. It started broadcasting on November 16, 2005.

The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act stated that the UBC should be funded by the levying of a television license fee. Collection of a license fee set at sh20,000 started in 2005.

However, collection was subsequently halted by President Yoweri Museveni. There has since been pressure to reinstate the license fee to maintain UBC's independence. UBC operates the UBC TV channel and five radio stations.

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