KAMPALA: A senior labour officer in Wakiso District, Celestine Muhumuza, has organised a mediation meeting between Uganda Airlines and former CEO Cornwell Muleya.
In order to come to an agreement with Muleya, a meeting will be held at 2 pm on April 21. She claims that she was fired unlawfully.
In a letter authored on April 12th, 2022 to Uganda Airlines, Muhumuza says the mediation meeting will take place at the labour office in Wakiso district local government. However, if he doesn’t do what he says, the dispute will be sent to the Industrial Court for more attention.
This development comes after Muleya lodged a complaint under the Employment Act 2006, reference number LD.07.04.22, to the labour office on April 4. In February, the government ended Muleya’s job as CEO of Uganda Airlines. This led to a labor dispute, which started in March.
Muleya’s woes started on April 21st, 2021, after Works minister Edward Katumba Wamala sent him and 12 other top officials on forced leave, eventually suspending them. It was President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s order to suspend them so that the government could look into allegations of financial mismanagement, collusion, and nepotism in the hiring of staff, as well as other things.
In mid-February this year, Muleya’s contract was terminated. Muleya, who was CEO from 2019 to May last year, now wants the government to reinstate him or pay over Sh3.5 billion in terminal benefits.
Muleya’s lawyer, Muwema and CO. Advocates, says that the government broke the law by suspending and then terminating his job.
When Muwema wrote to Waiswa Bageya on March 28, he said that due process had not been followed. Muwema was chairman of the interim board of Uganda Airlines.
Muleya says that the interim board sent him a notice to end his contract on February 15, 2022, without giving him a chance to say what he thought.
His lawyer, Muwema, says Bageya, who authored the notice to terminate Muleya’s contract, did not disclose the reasons for the decision. Muleya’s contract did not have a termination clause, and he was also “never heard in any disciplinary proceedings.”
Muwema concludes that the “purported suspension and termination of our client’s services as the Chief Executive Officer of UNACL was done contrary to all due process and the law. It presents a case of witch-hunt wrought with malice, and it reeks of irregularities. ”
Muleya wants to be reinstated as CEO of the company right away, and he wants an “unconditional apology for the material inconvenience, reputational damage, and loss,” says Muwema.
He warns that should the government fail to reinstate Muleya as CEO, he will take legal action and demand his terminal benefits amounting to Shillings 3,545, 186,318. 126 million Shillings for February 2022, one billion Shillings for general reputation damages, and 1.2 billion Shillings for loss of expectation interest in employment are some of the claims.
Muwema says the board leveled five “unsubstantiated accusations” against Muleya, which include alleged failure to supervise and curb corruption of staff under his watch, the delayed operation of the Airbus A330-800Neo and the self-handling project. Besides that, he was accused of gross procurement malpractice and financial mismanagement, as well as unethical human resource practices in the hiring process.
He says the move to terminate Muleya’s contract has “occasioned immeasurable loss and damage” to his “distinguished career in the aviation industry, which he has built over the last 20 years.”
Muleya was among the officials involved in the revival of Uganda Airlines in 2019. He is a Zambian who ventured into aviation in 1995 as general manager and CEO of Air Botswana Corporation for eight years, moved on to Air Mauritius, and worked as CEO for Zambezi Airlines Ltd. and ALS Limited in Kenya. Then, he was contracted as CEO of Air Uganda in 2013.
In September 2019, the Works ministry hired Muleya as CEO of Uganda Airlines and renewed his contract three times by the time he was sent on forced leave. The Ministry renewed Muleya’s contract in 2021, and it was bound to expire in September 2022.
Last month, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, in response to Muwema’s letter to the interim board chairman, said Muleya should go ahead and sue the government.
It was in February that Bageya told URN that the interim board had ended Muleya’s contract when they finished their investigations and disciplinary proceedings against him and 12 other suspended staffers.
He said Muleya’s contract was terminated because the allegations against him were “substantial and he was found culpable.”
Bageya, however, said that they would pay the terminal benefits of the affected staff but failed to mention the figures. He noted that Muleya had been earning close to Sh 120 million in his monthly gross salary.
Paul Turacayisenga, the former finance director, is one of the other people affected. Rogers Wamara, the procurement manager, Moses Wangalwa, the sales and marketing officer, Deo Nyanzi, Andrew Tumusiime, the senior administration manager, Harvey Kalama, the ground operational manager, Bruno Oringi, the safety manager, Michael Kaliisi, the quality manager, Juliet Otage Odur, and Kenneth Kiyemba and Alex Kakooza are also affected.
Wamara’s contract was also canceled by the board. The other managers and officers were either reinstated or still on suspension until the investigation was over.
Uganda Airlines now has a new board of directors chaired by Priscilla Mirembe Serukka. The new board of seven directors was inaugurated on April 1.