Kampala, (UG): At least 100 staff at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) have been transferred in the latest reshuffle following the multi-billion gorilla permit scandal that hit the agency mid-last year.
The most affected section of the authority is the accounts department with 37 staff transferred, including senior wardens for accounts and accounts clerks, who have been moved from one national park to another.
DailyExpress understands that the latest changes have seen a number of senior staff shifted from across the different conservation areas and national parks, according to a December 29, 2023 statement released by the authority charged with managing the national parks in the country.
“Top management at its 46th meeting held on 28th and 29th December 2023 at Protea Hotel Entebbe resolved to transfer staff within UWA to the various stations as indicated below with effect from 1st January 2024,” reads the statement jointly signed by Mr Sam Mwandha the Executive Director and Mr Chemonges Mongea Sabilla, the Deputy Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs.
According to the statement, chief wardens have been instructed to facilitate the transferred staff to their respective new stations, with immediate effect.
Notable among the transfers is Mr Edison Nuwamanya, the chief warden of Kibaale conservation area, who was recalled to headquarters and re-assigned as manager of human-wildlife conflicts.
Nuwamanya has since been replaced with Mr John Justice Tibesigwa, formerly a warden-in-charge at Rwenzori Mountain National Park. Six other senior wardens have also been shuffled from one position to another.
In some of the high-profile reshuffles, Ruth Namawanda, the senior accountant of Bwindi Conservation Area, where the gorilla permit fraud was detected, has been replaced by Ms Janet Busingye as an investigation into the multi-billion scandal continues to yield disciplinary proceedings.
This publication also understands that all the accounts clerks of Bwindi Conservation Area have been affected in the shake-up, including the accountant of Mgahinga National Park, Ms Daisy Nanyonjo, who remains undeployed and is still on suspension.
Multiple sources within the authority say disciplinary proceedings are still ongoing against those implicated, and that many may never regain their jobs at the authority.
Similarly, Mr Moses Turinawe, who has been tourism warden and acting officer-in-charge at Mgahinga, has been transferred to Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
However, Mr Nelson Guma, the chief warden at Bwindi-Mgahinga, said the most affected section is the accounts department with 37 staff transferred, including senior wardens for accounts.
In one of the scandals that hit the area, internal sources accused him of mismanaging the $100,000 (Shs376m) donor funds meant to support rangers during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Investigations into this matter have not been concluded and nothing has been said about Mr Guma’s fate in relation to the donor money inquiry.
UWA clarifies on reshuffles
Mr Bashir Hangi, the public relations manager at UWA, on Monday, said the latest transfers are routine operations and have nothing to do with the gorilla permit scandal. To clarify this, he said every year, UWA effects the transfer of staff to enhance efficiency and good performance and that no staff at the authority is hired to work at a specific duty station for life.
“Transfers are a routine administrative action that we do every year. In UWA, staff are not hired to work at specific duty stations, we are all transferable. The transfers have nothing to do with the permit investigations. The transfers affected staff in different departments. Staff who are undergoing investigations could not be deployed for work until their cases are concluded,” he said.
Mr Hangi also said while he is not privy to the status of investigations by the police and the Auditor General, the authority’s internal inquiries are almost complete.
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