By Moses Walubiri
The academic qualifications and job descriptions of a string Uganda Wild Authority (UWA) personnel has come under intense scrutiny from the parliamentary committee of tourism, trade and industry.
Legislators raised the issue on Tuesday during an interface with technocrats from UWA, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and Uganda Wild Life Education Centre (UWEC) led by sector minister, Maria Mutagamba.
MPs had in previous meetings with Mutagamba demanded a catalogue of all UWA staff together with its human resource manual after legislators queried annual salary increments of UWA employees.
During the five-hour long meeting from which journalists were barred, MPs Eddie Kwizera and Edward Balidawa tasked Mutagamba to explain why a string of key personnel’s qualifications were not in consonance with the expertise their job descriptions entail.
“This might be partly to blame for the problems UWA is facing,” one MP who preferred anonymity said, adding: “You find an officer who has no grounding in accounting heading a department of internal audit, while some have no basic qualifications for their portfolios.”
According to information before the committee, Willis Elly Musinguzi, who is UWA’s manager internal audit, has an MA, but with no accounting background since his first degree is a BA.
Other officers whose jobs portfolios came up for scrutiny included human resource manager Chrisostom Mwesimo (BA and Diploma), business development manager, Steven Sanyu (Master of Arts), procurement manager, Mark Opowo (Master of Science) and marketing manager Ingrid Nyakabwa (BA).
Sources in the committee say a startled Mutagamba ordered “a human resource audit at UWA” before its 2013/14 budget is passed.
“The minister apologised for the anomaly and ordered for UWA to furnish her and the committee with a human resource audit. This report will highlight whoever is employed at UWA and whether they are qualified,” a source told this reporter.
Mutagamba also vowed to draw curtains on the tendency of some people in her ministry being on more than one board of entities in the tourism sector, which some MPs have said is hamstringing the development of the sector over “conflict of interest.”
Information before the committee indicates that Dr. Andrew Sseguya is a board member of UWEC and UTB besides his docket as UWA boss.
MPs want the role of UWA and UTB in marketing the tourism sector defined, highlighting what they described as “UWA hijacking the role of UTB.”
“UWA is meant to concentrate on conservation, but its leadership is doing the work of UTB such as attending world travel markets in Germany, UK and Spain,” Kwizera said.
The Bufumbira East MP said UWA expended beyond its budget by sh200m on the 2012 World Travel Market without the approval of its board – an avoidable expense, according to Kwizera, if UWA didn’t go beyond its mandate of conservation.
In the financial year 2012/13, the total contribution of travel and tourism to Uganda’s GDP was sh4.9 trillion and according to Mutagamba, is expected to rise by 3.2% in 2013.