August 30, 2013

IGG Advice Ignored In New Water MD Appointment

The appointment of Dr Silver Mugisha as the new National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) Managing Director continues to attract negative comments with the Inspectorate of Government saying its advice was ignored.

IGG Irene Mulyagonja
IGG Irene Mulyagonja

Dr. Mugisha was early this week confirmed as the new Managing Director by the NWSC board headed by acting chairman Christopher Ebalu. The board put Mugisha and the other top contender for the job, former acting managing director Alex Gisagara on psychometric in the long and grueling process to choose the director to take over from Dr William Muhairwe, who retired almost two years ago.

During the time of Muhairwe, Mugisha worked as Chief Manager in charge of Institutional Development and External Services at NWSC, while Gisagara was Chief Manager in charge of Engineering Services.

The recruitment process was however carried out in the absence of the board chairman William Oketcho who is still on suspension over allegations of delaying the appointment of the NWSC managing director.

The Inspectorate of Government (IGG) now says its advice on the matter was ignored in the run up to Dr Mugisha’s appointment.

Minister for Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu. The report pinned Water and Environment Minister, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, for undue political interference in the process.
Minister for Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu. The report pinned him for undue political interference in the process.

In July, the IGG wrote a report on the alleged irregularities in the appointment of the Managing Director at the corporation after receiving a complaint from a concerned party on the manner in which the process was being handled.

The report pinned Water and Environment Minister, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, for undue political interference in the process. It also faulted the board of the corporation for causing the withdrawal of KPMG, an independent consultancy firm that had been hired to handle the recruitment process.

IGG spokesperson Munira Ali says the office handled the investigation as an ombudsman to help NWSC handle the different leadership issues they had. She adds the side-stepping of the IGG recommendations raises governance issues affecting the corporation. Munira further adds that the recommendations are however not binding on the corporation board.

In the report the IGG notes that in the interests of transparency and fairness, and clearing up any doubts and controversies surrounding the recruitment process, the current NWSC Board of Directors should conduct a fresh recruitment process right from the beginning.

Christopher Ebalu, the acting board chairman declined to comment on the matter saying it was a corporate affair that cannot be discussed in the media.

The NWSC spokesperson Vivien Newumbe has not responded to emails sent to her and phone calls have gone unanswered.

The process had earlier been halted after allegations of political interference were raised. This was after President Yoweri Museveni acting on the advice of Professor Kamuntu endorsed the appointment of Mugisha. The IGG decried the political interference and ordered that the board be left to handle the process. However, last month the board chairman William Oketcho was suspended over allegations of delaying the appointment. Investigations into this matter are still ongoing.

During Oketcho’s suspension, the acting Board Chairman subjected the two candidates to psychometric tests from which Mugisha emerged winner and was subsequently appointed.

Other recommendations from the IGG included the hiring of a new consultancy firm to carry out the recruitment process, fresh advertising of the top NWSC job and avoidance of unnecessary political participation in the process, none of which was picked up.

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