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    Former Vision Group Boss Reveals How He Was Dismissed As Myopic And Parasitic In Controversial Coffee Deal…

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    Former Vision Group boss, Robert Kabushenga has revealed how he was kicked out of the controversial coffee deal.

    Kabushenga revealed that the current coffee debate started in December 2019 with the controversial Bill that later became law.

    “Since then, some of us who are active in different parts of the value chain have been exchanging ideas on what can be done. I am going to share them here,” he noted.

    Kabushenga added that they had hoped that there would be a forum where they can share their thinking.

    He disclosed, “Apart from the parliamentary committee on the Vinci Deal, we have simply been dismissed as foreign agents, parasitic & myopic. They see no use in engaging those who actually generate the coffee wealth.

    “Those of us invested in the coffee sector take a 20 or more years perspective. You can’t do that with myopia. We are involved in production of wealth so you can’t say that is parasitic. Ours is for export so we are working for ourselves not foreigners.”

    He divulged that it is only those whose income and livelihood is derived from taxes and levies that can be correctly described as parasites because they need to work for foreigners from whom they can extract ‘rents’.

    “Which is why they focus on the deals and are shortsighted in their outlook.”

    Kabushenga furthermore broke down what they, as coffee sector players would want to see.

    He contended, “We are in full agreement with the need to set up a soluble coffee plant. In fact, I have been lobbying for this in some corridors. It will increase the value of low-grade coffees that are fetching low prices in the market.

    “The best option is a freeze-dried coffee plant which gives the best instant coffee product. The model should be a PPP (Public Private Partnership) that invests in the plant but allows coffee final product entrepreneurs to rent time on the plant and produce their own coffee brands and market to the final consumer.

    “This will spur local innovation in the local coffee values chain and generate diverse and more meaningful employment opportunities. It will also grow local consumption since soluble coffee is more convenient to make. This is especially true for those who make coffee in their homes.”

    The coffee farmer also asserted that for the start, they can position markets across Africa but below the multinational processors as they build capacity.

    “It means that we can position in urban markets across Africa but below the multinational processors. This would allow development of new markets as we build capacity to compete.”

    He maintained, “We must look at our current market. Uganda is a net coffee exporter. We sell our coffee mainly to processors. This requires us to know how they want their product. Imposing a product on a consumer could backfire. To go directly to end-user market means to know how coffee is consumed.

    “It may be that by processing for export in the manner we claim will earn us more money, we may have the opposite effect. Processing may come at a high cost and will make our coffee expensive. Market entry barriers are higher in this segment which denies us access to this lucrative market.”

    Kabushenga also revealed that there has been no marketing of their coffee to give it a unique standing.

    “The processed coffee market is very unforgiving for those seeking to play here. Where is our coherent strategy in this regard? Over what sustained period will we invest in this to effect uptake of our coffee?”

    He added that the policy of confusion is derailing the sector and will undermine the processing agenda.

    He divulged that Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) argued that the Vinci processing approach was very good but now they want to do a consultancy on the viability of such a plant which is already portraying them as confused.

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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    Corruption, Infighting Cited In Firing Of Top UETCL Bosses, Some To Face Investigation…

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    Mr. Kwame Ejalu, the UETCL board chairman and some of the UETCL staff

    Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) has fired the company’s top bosses.

    On 10th August 2022, Kwame Ejalu, the UETCL board chairman issued a memo to staff communicating changes which were to take immediate effect among top managers of the company.

    He stated, “The Board of Directors of the UETCL, in exercise of its mandate, has made some changes at the company’s top management level, re-engineering all its business processes therein with immediate effect.

    “This exercise is an inevitable phenomenon in the company’s life, driven by rationality of efficiency, allowing for maximisation of wanted benefits in developing a good corporate governance culture at the company in the interest of its shareholders.”

    Among the affected company bosses include; George Rwabajungu (Managing Director) who has been replace with Michael Taremwa Kananura who has been the company’s manager for finance, accounts and sales in the Acting capacity; Richard Matsiko, who has been the company’s operations and maintenance manager has been appointed as the Acting deputy Managing Director replacing Valentine Katabira; Daniel Kisira, who has been the company’s principle planning and investment officer who has been appointed in Acting capacity has the Implementation manager replacing Eng. William Nkemba; Karim Abdul Jumbo has been appointed in Acting capacity as the manager for information, communication and technology and Denis Okot has been appointed as the company’s manager in Acting capacity as the operations and maintenance manager.

    Sources at UETCL told theGrapevine that the line ministers Ruth Nakabirwa Ssentamu, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development together with Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment directed Ejalu to fight corruption and internal infighting within the company to save its image.

    “Your predecessors failed in teamwork, integrity and respect for one another, which are UETCL’s core values. There were so many issues of corruption,” Anite said.

    Sources further revealed that when Ejalu started his work, a number of UETCL bosses started fighting him after he asked them how the process of land acquisition for the coming projects such as transmission lines and substations was done.

    The parliamentary committee on natural resources is also investigating the alleged corruption and infighting within the company.

    Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Commission of Inquiry into land matters established that UETCL bosses were involved in corruption during the acquisition of land to establish projects around the country.

    In their report, the commission members recommended prosecution of the culprits.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    Dott Services In Trouble As DRC Officials Confiscate Road Construction Equipment; Tshisekedi’s Men Sabotage Shs.243.7bn Deal…

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    Presidents Museveni and his DRC counterpart Tshisekedi preside over groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of roads in DR. Congo

    State minister for the East African Community Affairs James Magode Ikuya has confirmed that the government of Uganda is in high level talks with officials from President Felix Tshisekedi over the Shs243.7bn road construction deal signed with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 2020.

    Speaking to theGrapevine, Minister Magoda revealed that they have received a complaint from Dott Services Company which was contracted to construct roads from Kasindi-Beni, Kasindi-Butembo Axis and Bunagana-Rutshuru-Goma road projects.

    “You know when you’re talking to people, especially brothers, you have to use soft means, we are also using soft means to talk to our friends from Kishasha to do what was agreed in the agreement signed by our principles,” Ikuya said.

    Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that a team of officials from DRC were recently in Kampala for talks on how the agreement can be fulfilled and pleaded to Ugandans to be calm.

    He added that the Ugandan ambassador to DRC is also following the matter and very soon, it will be sorted out.

    Sources in Dott Services Limited revealed to theGrapevine that officials from DRC tax collecting body confiscated their equipment which included; excavators, tractors, rollers, cement and others on grounds that the company didn’t pay taxes to the DRC government.

    Sources in the Attorney General’s chambers also told theGrapevine that it was clear in the agreement signed by both principles and line ministers that Uganda will not pay taxes for the equipment and other material goods which will be used in the construction of the roads.

    In 2021, president Museveni and Tshisekedi made a groundbreaking ceremony at  Mpondwe on the border of both countries.

    Museveni pleaded to natives in both countries to welcome the development because it was going to ease trade among them and the entire East African countries.

    Sources revealed that president Museveni was more interested in the road construction and it was the very reason why he deployed UPDF to work with DRC forces to force the deadly ADF rebels out of DRC forests because he was very aware that their presence will frustrate the construction of the roads.

    The UPDF mountain Brigade commander Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga boasted that UPDF has slashed ADF out of their hidding camps and many of them are now fugitives.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    Court Of Appeal Cancels High Court Order Directing NSSF To Refund Shs. 14 billion To UTL…

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    NSSF Managing Director Richard Byaruhanga

    Court of Appeal has cancelled an order of the High Court directing National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to return Shs. 14 billion of the 10% employer contribution for over 900 employees of Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL).

    In 2015, Uganda Telecom (UTL) top management and NSSF were sued by UTL employees as they tried to scheme and get back retirement benefits of 1,986 employees from NSSF.

    In a February 6th letter to UTL, then managing director Ali Amir and the then NSSF deputy managing director Geraldine Ssali indicated that the Workers Fund was moving to return an unspecified amount of money to the workers, but without the knowledge of the beneficiaries.

    The letter explained that the first batch, according to UTL records, was covered for 16 years regarding the matter on hand. The number, however, grew to 1,968 employees.

    The letter read in part, “UTL’s management said they had been remitting money to NSSF in error. The regulator of both NSSF and the pensions scheme Uganda Retirements Benefits Regulatory Authority (UBRA) acting boss Moses Bekabye, said the matter had been brought to their attention and a legal team was assigned to examine its contents.”

    According to Daily Monitor in 2015, prior to the writing of the letter, officials from both UTL and NSSF met on February 4th and discussed the status of the claim but the workers, some employed with UPTCL’s successor companies namely Uganda Communications Commission, Posta and Post Bank, said they had been kept in the dark about the deal.

    The Uganda Communications Employees Union, therefore, sued both the Fund and UTL in the industrial Court challenging any refund of the contributions. They secured a temporary injunction blocking any payment.

    Before the case in the industrial court could be determined, UTL filed an application for judicial review in the High Court, seeking an order to compel the fund to refund Shs. 14 billion, and obtained judgements in its favour.

    Following a ruling in May 2016, in which High Court Judge Lydia Mugambe ordered NSSF to pay the contested sum to UTL, the Fund sought permission to appeal, leading to the two parties entering a “consent to stay execution” on May 27, 2016.

    According to the consent, NSSF was to be allowed to appeal the ruling, but after depositing bank guarantees with the court to the tune of the contested sum.

    NSSF would also provide UTL with a certificate of compliance showing that the telecom company had paid up its contributions to the Fund, whose absence UTL said was precluding it from competing for public contracts.

    “When NSSF was required to issue bank guarantees and a certificate of compliance, they issued documents that were defective. This was in contravention of the agreement we had with them when they were granted the right to appeal,” Mr Andrew Kibaya, a lawyer for UTL lawyers Shonubi noted.

    This week however, three justices of the Court of Appeal who included Cheborion Barishaki, Stephen Musota and Christopher Madrama cancelled the High Court decision insisting that UTL’s application in the High Court was wrongly instituted as an application for judicial review yet it instead challenged the correctness of the Fund’s decision to collect statutory contributions from certain UTL employees.

    Speaking about the ruling, Richard Byaruhanga, the NSSF Managing Director, contended that this was a win to the UTL workers and the fund.

    He said, “We welcome the Court of Appeal’s judgement because it affirms our position that once contributions are remitted to the Fund, they belong to the employee for whom they have been paid.

    “Regarding this particular case, we are confident that as an employer, UTL errored in seeking a refund of the employer contributions on the basis of an alleged exemption.”

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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