EXCLUSIVE: The Mafia in Uganda is so strong that it has formed powerful cliques that keep exerting hidden sinister influence in most government sectors.
Intelligence so far gathered by this Pepper digital indicates that most government departments were penetrated by these organized cliques to an extent of influencing decision making processes directly or indirectly.
According to intelligence reports seen by the Daily Pepper, these seem to have a towering hand in the appointments—let it be ministers, heads of parastatals and awarding of multimillion tenders to foreign and local firms.
To garner a lot of influence, these organised groups in different departments syndicate to ensure that their primary activities; protection racketeering, arbitrating disputes, brokering, enforcing agreements and transactions are properly coordinated.
Apart from a few public offices where the president has a hand in appointing the officers, the rest of government bodies get office-bearers after competitive interviews. At times adverts are placed on various media platforms or made internally to favour the experienced staff at a particular agency.
Since the primary activities of the mafia are protection racketeering, arbitrating disputes, brokering, enforcing agreements and transactions, they must get rid of the ‘outsiders’ or people who oppose their activities. This is done in a very organized way. Once their traps fail to capture their targets, they resort to sponsoring whistleblowing experts to peddle lies with an aim of blackmailing their victim until he/she is fired or does not pass a vetting process for a certain job.
Lately, the Mafia sometimes connives with security operatives, the judiciary and other investigative agencies to act on whistle blower’s information; arrest their culprits and prosecute them, or have them dropped from a certain job application process. If you are not lucky—with or without evidence—a case is speeded up, and once their target appears before any magistrate and gets remanded, they work around the clock to have the same officer interdicted and immediately replaced.
This modus operandi has been witnessed in many government offices and parastatals, and the latest government agency to be targeted is Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA). As a regulator, the Entebbe based authority is tasked with ensuring “safety and security of air transport”, and also to facilitate “optimum efficiency with respect to the movement of passengers and goods”.
Currently, it is in the process of recruiting a substantive Director-General. The nominees are Fred Bamwesigye, the current Acting Director-General; Olive Lumonya, a former board member at UCAA and FINCA bank; and Tom Wasswa, the Managing Director of Uganda Printing & Publishing Corporation (UPPC).
All candidates have been victims of Mafia—whistleblower reports flying, court petitions among others. Notably, most of the missiles have been directed towards Bamwesigye who is the favourite to take the job. The Mafia thought by questioning his age and academic qualifications using institutions like the Inspector General of Government, he would be kicked out. Fortunately, findings—first by court and again by the office of the IGG cleared him. The IGG office is reported to have received about 10 whistleblower reports about Bamwesigye but all alleging the same things.
Tired of these incessant reports, the then acting IGG Mariam F Wangadya, in April this year gave a detailed response/explanation about those purportedly trying to use the Inspectorate to keep tormenting Bamwesigye.
Wangadya asserted that the matter of alleged inauthentic academic qualifications was first reported to the IG in 2017 and the same was comprehensively investigated and found to be untrue.
“Even as we investigated, the same group of whistleblowers kept petitioning the Inspectorate. They actually did that four times and we wondered why the content of the document would be the same every time they petitioned. They only kept changing the date, printing afresh and bringing. Eventually, the matter was closed after failing to find any merit in the whistle blower’s claims. The danger with such matters is that somebody accesses our registry and gets their matter filed. The moment they get the same signed and stamped to indicate it has been received, they run to the media to malign those they have complained against. And it’s even more complicated on our side once the whistleblower isn’t disclosed. You commence the investigations and get stuck mid-way because the whistleblower is nowhere to corroborate their claims to facilitate the progress of the investigations,” Wangadya stressed.
She added that the conduct of the whistleblower—repeatedly filing the same complaint well knowing the same is already being inquired into—indicated to them this was typical modus operandi of the Mafia who use such institutions to trap their victims.
“In the end, we completed the investigations and found nothing and closed the matter. But I subsequently learnt that the same had been filed in court which equally inquired into it and even delivered a judgment corroborating our findings and exonerated Mr. Bamwesigye,” Wangadya said, and to drive her point home added that “The new petition contains the very same allegations that were asserted in 2017. They apparently only changed the date, got a fresh piece of paper to print it on and bring it back filing it afresh. We are certain that this same matter was heard and decided upon by the Court and once that happens, we legally become constrained as the IG not to inquire into it again under Section 19 of the IG Act. We legally don’t have jurisdiction to investigate that matter again once it has been concluded by Court…that is why we decided to terminate this latest petition on arrival simply because it’s the same and merely being filed to waste our time.”
Wangadya also implored the public to realize that, much as whistleblowing is very critical to their work as an organization, the IG is a serious institution and treats it with the respect it deserves.
“We are a serious institution created by the Constitution with a clear mandate to investigate corruption and maladministration. We wouldn’t encourage anyone out there to try and conscript this very serious institution into personal proxy wars. Why keep filing the same thing which the Inspectorate has already investigated and found that it absolutely has no merit whatsoever? My conclusion now is that this must be a malicious fight somewhere and those involved in it are just trying to conscript the IGG into it. We will resist any attempts by malicious people to hijack this institution into proxy wars.”
The then Ag IGG made it clear: “As the one heading this institution, I’m not ordering any fresh investigations into this matter because that would be duplication of work. It simply doesn’t make sense to re-investigating matters that have been concluded yet we have so much on our plate.
WHY TARGET BAMWESIGYE
Bamwesigye previously served as UCAA’s Director Human Resource and Administration. He was later elevated to Deputy Director-General. In 2020 he became the acting Director-General following the retirement of Prof David Kakuba to date.
He joined the authority in 2009 and rose through the ranks to where he is today. Multiple sources Daily Pepper talked to give various reasons why the Mafia targeting UCAA are not comfortable seeing Bamwesigye at the helm.
Having joined the Authority in 2009, Bamwesigye has amassed all the experience one would require to manage Aviation affairs. And this means he is the kind of a person who would not tolerate mediocrity and incompetence when it comes to the execution of given tasks, unlike inexperienced ones who will just blink an eye for a junior since they too wouldn’t be knowing too much.
More so, given all the risks associated with aviation safety, he is the kind of a person who won’t be easily intimidated by Tom and Dick (because of some of the decisions he makes) claiming orders from above because he too is equally powerful in his own capacity. A story is told of how he one time stopped an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane from taking off because the technical report was inconclusive on its airworthiness.
In another incident, Bamwesigye also had issues with Kenyans; and entrepreneur and philanthropist Aga Khan IV had to intervene by reaching out to President Museveni directly.
Museveni inquired from Bamwesigye and after the former listening to the latter carefully, he concluded that indeed Bamwesigye was just simply doing his job whose proficiency and strictness had rattled those who felt connected. That is how thick-skinned Bamwesigye is sometimes and this makes the Mafia feel uncomfortable with him around.
We have also learnt that the Mafia targeting UCAA land feel Bamwesigye is an insect that should be crashed there and then. UCAA has a lot of land scattered across the country which has been a target of the Mafia for grabbing but Bamwesigye being a principled person who also follows procedures, the former have been finding it difficult to divide it among themselves.
They know if he becomes a substantive DG, they will have to wait until the end of his tenure. In Entebbe alone, UCAA has about 800 acres but it has been encroached on by different stakeholders both individuals and some government entities. It is a shame [sic] that UCAA had to first beg for its own land when it embarked on the airport expansion works project.
UCAA also manages 14 airfields/airstrips across the country and its land there has been under threat by the Mafia. Whereas Bamwesigye, according to those close to him, feels this land should be protected for future aviation projects, the Mafia have a different plan and seeing him at the helm is a huge blow to them.
The Mafia always targets where there is money. Pepper digital understands that they have always tried to create patronage and corrupt system at UCAA that they exploit for their self-enrichment through constant manipulation of systems, processes, policies and activities.
Conflict of interest, insider trade, control of procurement process to dictate who takes which bid is their end game. It is this same Mafia that always receives gratifications from almost all service providers and contractors. In case there are queries about any anomaly the answer is always “this is for a big man so and so in the government.”
However, Bamwesigye seems not to be going to their side and they will do whatever it takes to block him from ascending to the top given what they have already gone through in regard to the current projects(ongoing and finished) at Entebbe airport.
These include the upgrade and expansion works for the Entebbe International Airport project which involved works at the departure, and arrival terminals, fuel farm, runways, Cargo centre and taxiways. Others include a modernized VIP Lounge and Open Lounge. Other improvements include computerized- centralized checking and security system, resealing two runaways among others.
A lot of money is involved and some Mafia-linked firms which were left out were not happy and somehow Bamwesigye was pointed out as the stumbling block.
Whichever way, the Mafia remains with an upper hand. Once the person outside their organized clique beats their candidates and goes through, they influence to deny him/ her office. This implies that even if he goes on to get the job, there is an impending uphill.
- LoP calls for enhanced funding to Health sector
- Three Cheat death in Beer truck Accident
- Ways to Fix a Broken Relationship with Your Boyfriend
- BUSINESS: MTN Uganda, Britam in new partnership
- Jinja Community Laud American Delegation Led By ‘Soul of My Footprint’ For Transforming Lives
A case in point was when an outsider Dr. Anania Mbabazi passed the interview that was conducted by Dama consultants, a reputable human resource recruiting agency with flying colours to replace Justice Cornelia Sabiti whose contract expired at Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) some time back.
Being an ‘outsider’ he was blocked from taking over office and letters started flying from office to office until the man from Kabale gave up on the office he had successfully competed for.