Theft of Shs4 billion worth of ivory haunts UWA boss Seguya, lucrative job advertised

Theft of Shs4 billion worth of ivory haunts UWA boss Seguya, lucrative job advertised
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Public Service has advertised the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Executive Director’s job after Dr. Andrew Seguya’s five-year contract at the helm expired on November 20.

But the development comes after the UWA board, chaired by Dr. Ben Otto, unanimously recommended the renewal of his contract to the tourism, wildlife and antiquities minister, Dr. Ephraim Kamuntu, in which they rated Seguya’s performance at 72%.

State Tourism Minister Godfrey Kiwanda, Andrew Seguya and Tom Okello from UWA display one of the biggest ivory recovered from poachers weighing over 34Kgs recently.

According to Uganda Wildlife Act Chapter 200, UWA shall have an executive director appointed by the minister (of tourism, wildlife and antiquities) on the recommendation of the board.

But Seguya’s troubles go way back to 2014 when in a routine check found that 1,335kg of ivory valued at about $1 million (about Shs4B) had vanished from the UWA strongroom. The then Tourism minister, Maria Mutagambwa (RIP) suspended  Seguya, together with five top managers to pave way for an investigation into the missing ivory. Seguya was, however, later cleared and reinstated but all is not well as evidenced by the the latest controversy that has seen government advertise the lucrative job he took over in 2012 when Dr. Moses Mapesa (RIP) was sacked.

Now, government has for eligible nationals who hold a bachelors degree in biological sciences related to wildlife conversation, plus a masters degree in either natural sciences or biological sciences from a recognized university.

Applicants should also have 10 years of proven experience in management of relevant natural resources at senior level, three of which should have been served as a head of department and above, from a reputable organisation.

As Public Service goes ahead to pick someone to replace Dr. Seguya, New Vision claimed the embattled administrator’s contract has been temporarily extended for three months but beyond the 90 days, there seems no light at the end of the tunnel.

Seguya also worked as executive director of Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) for five years. Before that, he worked with the Government of Botswana as senior veterinary officer. UWA manages 10 parks such as Bwindi impenetrable, Rwenzori Mountains, Mt. Elgon and Elizabeth National Parks, which have received international accolades.

Uganda Wildlife Authority executive director Andrew Seguya (L) and Mr Amos Wekesa, the managing director of Great Lakes Safaris, after a meeting in Kampala.
Before his suspension in 2014, Dr Seguya wrote a letter to the press saying it was him who instituted the audit team to do regular ivory stockpiling. He said it was absurd that he was being at the same time accused of stealing ivory.

Seguya has been blamed for not doing enough while poaching and trafficking are increasingly controlled by organised criminal networks that undermine the rule of law and good governance and encourage corruption.

Ivory is a highly prized commodity in markets such as Malaysia and China as it is a sign of presige and wealth. From ivory, magnificent sculptures are made and with the increasing incomes of Chinese, the demand for ivory has increased in the past years, leading to the killing of thousands of elephants in Africa.

In May 02, 2017, President Museveni directed the IGG to investigate Seguya who previously worked as a senior veterinary officer in the government of Botswana over the theft of ivory from the UWA stores he oversaw and conniving with Chinese diplomats to sell ivory in China, many who were briefed about the intrigue at UWA were not surprised.

In his May 2 letter, Museveni accused two Chinese diplomats named Li Wejin and one Yinzhi of involvement in the illegal sale of ivory smuggled from the Democratic Republic of Congo yet the alleged officials had never worked with the Embassy.

UWA manages 10 parks which include Bwindi impenetrable, Rwenzori Mountains, Mt. Elgon and Elizabeth National Parks among others.

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