21 June 2019

Uganda: Government Printery in Fresh Storm Over Top Job

A simmering row has erupted at the Uganda Printing and Publication Corporation (UPPC) over the managing director job which the board is trying to fill, to replace Ms Irene Muwanguzi, whose tenure has neither ended nor been cancelled.

Daily Monitor has learnt that on Tuesday the board interviewed prospective candidates who applied for the job following an advert that was published in the newspapers last month.

UPPC's board chairperson Vincent Kityamuwesi yesterday said "the position technically fell vacant" which necessitated a fresh search process to fill it.

"Yes, we interviewed the candidates yesterday, and those of other positions advertised. We shall tell you everything once we have finalised," Mr Kityamuwesi said by telephone.

On the other hand, Ms Muwanguzi, who has had a tumultuous time at the Entebbe-based government printing company, maintains her new three-year contract is still running.

UPPC is the statutory body mandated to print and disseminate any information for government departments and ministries.

Last year UPPC signed a deal with a German company, Veridos Identity Solutions Group, to, among others, locally print money and passports.

Following the IGG's investigations in 2016 which recommended sacking of the old board and a raft of reforms to turn around the troubled UPPC, Ms Muwanguzi was last year in June reinstated as managing director on a three-year renewable contract.

Sources said Ms Muwanguzi's confirmation was subject to appraisal after six months probation period which she opposed on grounds that she been in office before the old board terminated her, which prompted the IGG's investigations, and subsequently she ran to court which ordered for her to be reinstated and paid salary arrears for the period she was out; the latter is yet to be addressed.

Following disagreements on probation appraisal, the board embarked on a search for a new managing director.

Ms Muwanguzi, however, told Daily Monitor that "as it was the second contract I was not supposed to be on probation." "When the board asked me to go for an appraisal to end the probation, I told them I was to be appraised for performance improvement not for confirmation after probation, that is when everything started," Ms Muwanguzi explained.

She added: "My last contract was for three years from December 2014; I went through the process of probation but because the old board conducted it badly with the aiming of terminating me, that is when the IGG intervened and stopped it, and later I went to court which cleared me."

"If I accepted that appraisal, it would have infringed on my rights; and remember I did not do fresh interviews because court cleared and reinstated me."

The board subsequently wrote to the Solicitor General for a legal opinion on the matter early this year.

Solicitor General's opinion

In the first letter dated February 6, the Solicitor General's office opined that the managing director should appear before the board for appraisal and evaluation of her performance, since according to the law the board is overall supervisor.

In the second opinion dated March 1, the Solicitor General revised its earlier opinion indicating that "we are convinced that the managing director was not appraised by the board to complete her probationary period in the first contract. This means that she was never confirmed in that position.

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