Uganda: Police Raid UBC, Board Suspended

Broadcast

Police with the support of other security organs on Friday night stormed the government broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation offices, and locked up offices of the top managers before suspending the entire board and management over suspected mismanagement.

Police secured the UBC entrance and exit points at around 7:30pm, blocking any UBC workers from gaining entrance and prevented anyone from moving out with any documents or electronic gadgets.

Staff exiting the premises was subjected to rigorous body and bag searches to ensure that no corporation property, documents or possible evidence are sneaked out.

Offices of the Managing Director, Edward Musinguzi Mugasa, and immediate subordinates were locked. "We are utterly shocked," said Ms Jane Kasumba, the public relations officer, as she exited. "I don't know what is going on. They (police) are searching our cars and we don't know what they are looking for."

However, many workers thought the heightened security was aimed at securing the premise ahead of the anticipated visit of President Museveni to open the newly constructed studios.

But government sources said that the President ordered the action following various reports of fraud, outright corruption and mismanagement. Museveni has reportedly been disappointed by the performance of the corporation, into which huge sums of taxpayers' money was sunk about five years ago.

The suspended included Chris Katuramu, the chairman of the board, and Edward Musinguzi Mugasa, Managing Director. Others are board members: Prof. Pilkington Ssengendo, Mr Oola, Dr Daisy Namono, Fred Bamwesigye, Ms Wandera, MTom Okurut, and Ms Kabakumba Masiko, the outgoing minister of Information.

Ms Kabakumba Masiko did not pick calls to respond to this event but Mugasa said: "I also don't know the problem. I haven't gone there today since this is a Saturday."
He said he had just addressed a staff meeting on Friday, gone out briefly only to find a new development on return. Ms Kasumba said the corporation would come out with a statement "in due course".

Uganda Broadcasting Corporation is a state company created by a 2004 Act of Parliament, which merged Uganda Television (UTV) and Radio Uganda operations. The corporation became fully functional on November 16, 2005. It has since expanded to two television channels and five radio stations.

According to Information Ministry sources, the suspended UBC managers were supposed to have handed over office yesterday at 2:30pm to Paul Kihika as Acting Managing Director.

"They bought a broadcasting truck at Shs1.7 billion for the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting without following Public Procurement and Disposal Act. The truck ended up being below standards," a source said.

The source said UBC was given more than Shs14 billion to purchase broadcast equipment to revamp system but the resources were allegedly mismanaged. "The managers have turned the corporation into their personal business. The funds they generate aren't managed well," a source said.

It is not yet clear whether the surprise investigations stem from UBC's performance during the recent general elections, airing of Arab world protests and broadcasting of the opposition walk-to-work demonstrations. But President Museveni has at times opted to address the nation on the more commercial state Bukedde TV and the private NTV.