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Works and Transport minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala has distanced himself from taking the blame for the controversial appointment of Jenifer Bamuturaki as Uganda Airlines' chief executive officer.

While appearing as a witness before the parliamentary committee on commissions, statutory authorities and state enterprises (Cosase) which is scrutinizing the Auditor General’s Katumba was tasked by the committee chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi tasked to explain why as the overseer and supervisor of the board of directors, he could not advise President Yoweri Museveni when he irregularly directed him to appoint Bamuturaki, even when she lacked the requisite qualifications.

Foreign firm, PriceWaterHouse Coopers (PwC) had been hired to conduct the recruitment process for the CEO at Shs 99m, but Bamuturaki who did not even apply for the job was appointed before the process was completed.

“If indeed she was competent enough, why she was not subjected to the due process which is both legal and fair like the rest?” asked Ssenyonyi.

According to Ssenyonyi, legally binding procedures to facilitate the recruitment of a person to the position of CEO were flouted.

In his response, Katumba said he only wrote to the airline's board to follow the requisite steps to recruit the CEO. Ssenyonyi pressed Katumba to explain if he thinks the board indeed followed the requisite steps to recruit Bamuturaki. However, he said that it would be tantamount to micromanagement and can be misinterpreted to mean interference with the mandate of the board.

“The president wrote in his handwriting a letter stating that he had done due diligence and listed a number of reasons supporting his directive to the airline to appoint Bamuturaki,” Katumba said.

However Ssenyonyi retorted and said; "Honourable minister when you issue a directive, you follow up, you ask for a report. Micromanaging is when you go and do it for them. Here, we're talking about you indicated to them follow a process for this recommended person. I think you're duty bound as a person superintending over the entity to follow up and be sure have they done what you asked them to do, have they followed the process?" said Ssenyonyi. 

But Katumba reiterated that he has no authority to question a presidential directive other than recommending it to the board of directors of the airlines.

"From the institution [army and police] where I came from, we respect orders and respect directives. So I had no reason to disrespect the president's directive. What I did was to write to the board and I told them; follow the process of appointing the recommended person to the position." he said.

But Mawokota County South MP Yusuf Nsibambi reminded Katumba that Uganda Airlines is a limited liability company and not a parastatal in which the government merely has shares among other shareholders. Nsibambi observed that the airline has no article within its articles of association giving powers to the president or the minister to legally appoint a CEO.

“It will be hard for you to attract the confidence of the public you intend to sell shares of the airline to while making illegal decisions that affect the management of the airline like this one...When you subject public institutions which are quasi-private with provisions for the public to invest to presidential directives, you are going to find it hard to keep any private investors because they would want to have a stake in making those management and governance decisions” Nsibambi said.

Nsibambi told Katumba Wamala that it would not be disrespectful to advise the president to follow the due processes even when he has given a directive.

”For the sake of exonerating and shielding both of you if, for unforeseen reasons, the directive yields damning repercussions in the future,” Nsibambi said. By URN/The Observer

 

Kitui governor Julius Malombe was on Thursday sworn into office at the Ithookwe showground during a ceremony that was witnessed by a mammoth crowd.

After taking the oath of office as Kitui governor for the second time, Malombe alleged that the county had been on a downward trajectory since he left office.

He was sworn to office by Machakos High Court Judge, Justice George Odunga.

Malombe pledged a consultative, participatory and inclusive approach to handling the affairs of the county.

In 2017, he failed to clinch his seat and was ousted by the now outgoing governor Charity Ngilu.

In this year’s polls, Malombe won back the seat even as the outgoing governor withdrew from the race.

Malombe said he was alive to the fact the expectations of the citizens of Kitui in his leadership were exceedingly high considering the extent to which service delivery had deteriorated over the last five years.

“Nonetheless we have no choice but to join hands and tackle the issues head-on. There is no room for retreat surrender or quitting. In this regard I request you indulge and join me in prioritization and focus on key developmental aspects in the next 100 days,” said Malombe.

He thanked the Kitui people for showing confidence in his leadership when he was the pioneer governor and giving him a second chance this time round.

Malombe also thanked Wiper leaders Kalonzo Musyoka and Azimio One Kenya presidential candidates for publicly endorsing his candidature ahead of the August 9 polls.

He said the overwhelming public display of admiration the people of Kitui had shown for him was a clear indication that they appreciated the hard work he would put in "reclaiming, restoring" and transforming Kitui County. - MUSEMBI NZENGU, The Star

  • A collage image of Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga touring the ONQ offices on August 4, 2022. FACEBOOK COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF NYERI 
  • US medical billing firm, ONQ has hired 200 youth to operate its calling center based in Nyeri County that will offer services to Americans.

    During the unveiling of the centre in Nyeri town on Thursday, August 4, ONQ Kenyan Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sean Hammerle, stated that the youth had been trained in the US medical sector and would provide support to patients using the platform.

    He revealed that the 200 youth would be tasked with responding to billing and insurance queries raised by the callers.

    ONQ Kenya CEO Sean Hammerle together Nyeri Governor Mutahi at their call center on August 4, 2022.
    ONQ Kenya CEO Sean Hammerle together Nyeri Governor Mutahi at their call center on August 4, 2022.
    DAILY NATION
     

    "Our agents are knowledgeable in the processes of US medical billing and automation. Furthermore, ONQ employees gain exposure to working in a global company.

    “With a source of livelihood and stable income, the Nyeri ONQ agents can reach their professional and personal goals. ONQ has become a safety net for educated youth to secure long-term career opportunities for personal growth," he stated.  

    Hammerle explained that the company decided to set shop in Nyeri because a majority of the youth in the area were educated hence easy to understand what the work entailed.

    The CEO added the call center would help expose solve employment in the country. He estimated that 300 more youth would be employed before the year ends as they expand the call center.

    “In establishing the ONQ office in any place in the world, one of the company’s greatest considerations is the impact it will make on the youth in that particular area. This explains why the company avoids setting shop in major cities but instead chooses rural towns where the impact of youth employment and skills transfer will be felt most.”

    “We did not have the idea of expanding our base beyond the US and India until the global pandemic hit. We got the idea of diversifying our workforce so as to protect our clients globally. I realised that working in Nyeri was easier because there are a majority of highly educated youths,” Hammerle stated. 

    On his part, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga stated that the investment of the US firm would help in opening the county to other investment opportunities.

    The company also has other offices in the US, India and Panama with similar services offered in the three countries. 

    "By partnering with ONQ, physicians, billing companies, hospitals and payors can capitalize on billing expertise, take control of their revenue cycle, maximize reimbursements, and enjoy complete transparency of their business operations," ONG states on their website.

    An image of a call operator at the ONQ offices in Nyeri.
    An image of a call operator at the ONQ offices in Nyeri. FACEBOOK COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF NYERI
     
 

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