The long wait to have a new competent board appointed, a year since the buddy appointment by former tourism minister Otafire of one Muballa and company came to a dramatic end when court declared him not competent enough to hold the position, is now finally over.
Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Ben Otto, was formally unveiled as the new Chairman of the Board, injecting knowledge of the sector and expertise in all matters of wildlife and tourism on the strength of his long service as PS, where he did outstanding work and engaged successfully with the private sector.
Also appointed to the board was Mr. Mani Khan, Director of Tourism Operations of the Madhvani owned Marasa Africa company, which owns and operates three lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchisons Falls National Park, representing the private sector. Mani Khan had previously served as a Director on the Uganda Tourist Board too, bringing with him decades of experience in the hospitality industry and intimate insights of serving on public boards previously.
Other notable appointees are John Emily Otekat, a former deputy CEO of Uganda National Parks and Ugandas link man to the East African Wildlife Society in Nairobi, Boniface Byamukama of Lake Kitandara Tours, Gladys Kalema of Conservation through Health and from the Ministry of Tourism the Commissioner Tourism Ms. Grace Aulo with Mr. Michael Aliyo added from the Ministry of Finance.
Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister for Tourism, was quoted to have said at the inauguration of the new board: I challenge the new board to restore confidence in the authority [UWA] and the new board to be fair to all Ugandans as a public trustee before adding that the public had lost confidence in the past over allegations of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds between October 2010 and now. This was seen as a thinly veiled reference to the misguided if not often outright vengeful actions of his predecessor in office Kahinda Otafire, aka the self declared minister of crocodiles and widely seen as a total disgrace while holding the tourism portfolio.
This brings a long standing saga to a preliminary end, as it is for the new board to get down to business, appoint a new permanent Executive Director and help reshape the future of UWA as a respected and forward looking conservation management body. Best of luck to the appointees and more important all the best to the Uganda Wildlife Authority management and staff as they return now to calmer waters and can finally concentrate once again on their mandate instead of fighting constant rear guard action with kangaroo courts, gone bonkers commission of enquiry chairs and politicians perceived to putting their own vested interests before conservation.