Friday, March 1, 2024

Zambian Former Uganda Airlines CEO Cornwell Muleya arrested, ordered to surrender passport

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Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officer, Mr Cornwell Muleya who was arrested last month for allegedly disobeying the Inspectorate of Government (IG) orders has been produced in court and charged formally.

Mr Muleya was on Wednesday arraigned before Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court after spending a night in custody and charged with disobedience of IGG’s orders contrary to section 35 (a) of the Inspectorate of Government Act, 2002.

According to prosecution, Mr Muleya between May and June 2022 willfully and without reasonable justification or excuse, refused to comply with an order of the Inspectorate of Government dated May 23, 2022 requiring his attendance to give evidence and produce documents to the Inspectorate of Government, regarding mismanagement of public funds, procurements and recruitment of staff at the Uganda Airlines.

Mr Muleya, however, denied the charges and asked to be released on bail arguing that he is a law abiding citizen and ready to report to court whenever required.

He also told the presiding court magistrate, Asuman Muhumuza, that he had been summoned by the IGG as a witness in the ongoing investigations into the mismanagement of the national carrier and not as a suspect.

Mr Muhumuza asked Muleya to deposit his old and new passports in court and also pay Shs1.5 million cash for his bail. Each of his four sureties was bonded Shs50 million, not cash.

Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officers Mr Cornwell Muleya in the dock at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court where he appeared on June 22, 2022 to answer charges of disobeying the IGG’s orders
Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officers Mr Cornwell Muleya in the dock at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court where he appeared on June 22, 2022 to answer charges of disobeying the IGG’s orders

Mr Muleya was sent on forced leave on April 29, 2021 amid accusations of—among others—financial mismanagement, unethical conduct in the recruitment of personnel, failure to supervise staff, and curb corruption at the national carrier.

He was also accused of delaying the operation of the Airbus planes, delaying the implementation of the ground handling and self-handling programmes as well as presiding over abuse of the procurement system.

He was later suspended on May 21, 2021 along with other five top managers. Among these were the human resource manager, Mr Joseph Sebbowa, and the director of safety, Mr Bruno Oringi.

Mr Muleya’s contract was consequently terminated on February 15.

The deputy IGG, Patricia Achan Okiria said Mr Muleya’s actions had forced the ombudsman to invoke its powers under the IGG Act. The provision empowers the inspectorate to issue a warrant of arrest to apprehend any person to whom summons have been served but is a no-show.

He is also set to appear before the Anti-Corruption Court to answer another charge related to the IGG’s investigation into alleged mismanagement and abuse of office at the airline.

“He did not carry out his functions and duties well. Next week, we are likely to be in the Anti-Corruption Court, so I don’t want to delve into those matters now,” she added.
It will be a perfect case of hunter turned hunted if Mr Muleya is arraigned before the anti-corruption court.

The Zambian was the first to pen a dossier in which he made a case for an investigation into the operations at the airline.

In a January 27, 2021 report sent to President Museveni, Mr Muleya accused some members of the board of directors at the time of pushing “for the promotion of self-interest” and in other cases colluding with some managers to make a quick buck.

Many would say that the arrest is a form of witch-hunt to the sacked Uganda Airline CEO but the deputy IGG says this is not true.

“This is not witch-hunt. That matter(of termination of contract) is in in industrial court, for us we are looking at mismanagement of Uganda airlines during his tenure. The other matter is to be determined by court and we can’t go into it. For us looking at the mismanagement aspect because government invested a lot of money in the airline and was put to waste,” Dr. Achan said.

Storm

Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officers Mr Cornwell Muleya in the dock at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court where he appeared on June 22, 2022 to answer charges of disobeying the IGG’s orders
Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officers Mr Cornwell Muleya in the dock at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court where he appeared on June 22, 2022 to answer charges of disobeying the IGG’s orders

Storm brewed at the national carrier as the battle for control threatened the success of the airline, a few years after its revival.

A January 27, 2021 dossier to President Museveni by Mr. Muleya indicated that intrigue, corruption and interference were the order of the day.

According to the report, some board members have on several occasions met with some members of the management team to inflate invoices in a bid to make money out of the airline and that this has led to division among the management team as well as inefficiency in the management of the airline.

The report indicated that managers working with backing from some of the board members to inflate invoices have on several occasions to slow down some of the airline projects as they push their own selfish agendas with protection from the “godfathers” on the board.

The report indicated that some board members view the CEO as being too rigid and not flexible on the issue of corruption as people find it hard to work with him.

“They advised that I must try to understand how business is done in Uganda because these practices are normal in this country, otherwise I will find myself alone. They have gone so far as to suggest that our ethical approach to management may be one of the reasons why we are experiencing delays in the release of company project funds from the ministries within government.”

According to the Uganda Airlines CEO, it has been told him directly in the face that many projects have failed to take off because he has refused to give kickbacks to some government officials to give a green light to the projects.

It was reported that in 2019, the airline contracted services of Abbavater as its publicity and promotions agency to design and perform sales and marketing activities but little did they know that the Commercial Director then had connections in the company yet it was under her department to supervise it.

“When the company was contracted to do this work, management was not aware that some of the managers within the airline, including the Commercial Director whose duty it was to manage this service, had intimate connections with this company. This only came to light after the agency’s services to the airline were found to be below par to a point where management had to recommend to the board to terminate their contract.”

The report said that investigations found out that the agency had either bribed its way into the airline or attempted to bribe some managers in order to get the contract.

President Museveni would later order investigations into the mismanagement of the national carrier among other issues which later led to Muleya’s suspension.

His contract was later terminated.

And Mr. Muleya is now pursuing litigation in order to clear his name and receive compensation after his contract was terminated in February 2022, 9 months into a suspension.

Muleya along with up to 12 others at the national carrier were Suspended in April 2021, a month after the CEO had been offered an 18 months contract extension.

The board including its chairman were also suspended initially for 3 months with an interim board put in place to oversee the airline.

After 9 months, the interim board decided to terminate Muleya’s contract but did not disclose the reasons for this only stating officially that allegations against him were substantial.

Muleya’s lawyers argue that “Despite glaring irregularities, our client was directed to keep away from the company premises without any lawful or just cause. Moreover, no promised investigation into alleged mismanagement by our client ever took place. In fact, no investigation report has ever been produced to this end,”

The noticed goes on to add: “In spite of the blatant illegalities, you purported to extend our client’s illegal suspension by another three months vide your letter dated 20th August 2021.We need to emphasise that the law does not provide for extension of suspension beyond the period provided under Section 63 of the Employment Act.”

“You issued the said termination notice with the full knowledge that our client was never heard in any disciplinary proceedings. Additionally, you were aware that our client’s contract of employment did not have a termination clause,”

What is Muleya’s demanding through the courts?

Immediate reinstatement as the Chief Executive Officer of the company.

An unconditional apology for the material inconvenience, reputational damage and loss he suffered.

Shs 3.5 billion ( USD 978,000) in damages and other costs including salary arrears.

The CEO’s background

Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officers Mr Cornwell Muleya in happier times
Former Uganda Airlines chief executive officers Mr Cornwell Muleya in happier times

Muleya has also previously worked with Air Mauritius Limited as the Chief Finance Officer, and at Zambezi Airlines Limited, as the Chief Executive Officer.

He has also worked as the CEO at ALS – Aircraft Leasing Services, based at Nairobi, and at Air Uganda as the CEO, from 2013 until 2014.

In October 2019, Muleya was appointed Acting CEO at Uganda Airlines, while the company searched for a substantive CEO.

He replaced Ephraim Bagenda, who was named director of engineering and maintenance at the national airline.

He is also the Founder & Director of Cornwell Aviation Consultants Limited, an aviation consultancy based in Lusaka Zambia.

Witch-hunt?

Muleya’s arrest comes at a time when he filed a case in which he wants government to compensate him to a tune of shs3.5 billion over termination of his contract with the national airline.

20 COMMENTS

    • @1 Neo-Patriot, this is a sad comment and typical of Pull Him Down (PHD) syndrome! This guy has had an illustrious career in aviation managing even in Botswana where they are very serious with public resources. He left with a clean record without these shenanigans corrupt Uganda is trying to create around him. I am shocked that someone spotting a Canadian flag, who could be based in Canada can sink so low and mock a person who is seeking justice!!

  1. Ba Kandiile at it again! Upright people are never appreciated in the wicked environment. But take heart Mr Muleya your vindication is on its way.

  2. Story izibika. He probably reported to someone who was part of the scam. The more he pushes for his money and re-instatement, the more his safety is compromised. Let him just come back home and run Zambia Airways

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  3. M7 appoints the Minister who appoints the Board that supervises Muleya, so it’s M7 who’s the most corrupt and defending his cohorts. How do you fire somebody without a disciplinary hearing? They’ve unleashed the Police on him to try and intimidate him. Africa is full of idyots in charge of Govt business

  4. If Muleya was convinced there was wrongdoing at Uganda Airlines, the best he could have done was to resign and look for a job elsewhere. It was naive of him to start fighting Ugandans when he is not Ugandan himself.

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  5. This is why Africa will take long to develop. Upright and honest people are despised and mudslung at will

  6. Learn to respect the rules of the country hosting you. Is he a upnd cadre this one. Let hh save him

    • Stfu you mf thief. Ignorant looters with no brains shouldn’t even comment on cases you don’t know about.

    • Benson let this be a warning that Zambian govt won’t support you when criminals like you are arrested abroad and finally deported to Rwanda

  7. Sadly, even Uganda nurtures bad elements, like in Zambia, where the Anti-Corruption system thrives on creating false allegations against the innocent as they bury their own filth. However, Cornwell Muleya has proved to be a non-corrupt professional in the aviation industry – internationally. Muleya’s plight needs our President’s intervention. In this case President HH can quietly send a prominent diplomat (say, VJ Mwaanga) to deliver a message of goodwill to President Museveni in order to rescue our son from cruel jaws of some Ugandan “Anti-Corruption” Officers. Help Muleya get his benefits and safely return home to Zambia. We hope HH learns a lesson from Uganda and thus clean up his ACC and DEC.

  8. Stfu you mf thief. Ignorant looters with no brains shouldn’t even comment on cases you don’t know about.

  9. The tragedy of Africa…we scandalized innocents.. This is a guy who worked in various countries rescustating failing airlines: Botswana,Mauritius,Kenya etc.. He is a no nonsense management professional who is sadly being caught in the corrupt web of the Ugandan thieves.. Sadly their president Museveni is another thief.

  10. I am often amazed at how CEOs of all ilk will get fat cheques in perks when the institutions they are running are struggling. We saw it even in ZCCM. The top brass were living it. They had posh mercs and 4 by 4s while the mining conglomerate was bleeding and failing to produce even 300,000 tonnes of copper. The Francis Kaundas were decalring thousands of miners redundant while living well.

  11. Shame Cornwell !!! I have worked with this man before and he is among the most honest & professional people I have come across in my life.His only crime is trying to run Uganda Airlines professionally as if it were a private company….
    The woman who has been confirmed this week as CEO cant come anywhere near Cornwell… she is a Museveni cadre or using Bottom power or both……
    This is why national airlines fail….zero professionalism!!.

    I believe the New Dawn Government should intervene in this matter diplomatically so that Cornwell can be saved from this political nonsense being perpetrated by the Ugandan Deep State….

  12. Muleya you a lucky to be alive those guys are ruthless ,corrupt to the core.My friend was gunned down in kampala when he was working with UN agencies.The country is as corrupt as its leader museveni.

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