Spitting Fight between Nagenda and Otafiire

25 10 2010

The mess at Uganda Wildlife Authority seems to have taken a more personal twist lately, with volleys in the press between Presidential Media Advisor John Nagenda and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry, General Kahinda Otafiire.

In a recent article in the New Vision, Nagenda refers to Dr. Muballe, who Otafiire appointed as Chair of the UWA board, as “a monster daily devouring its own children.”

In another article a month ago, Otafiire threatened Nagenda saying “Nagenda cannot insult us like that. It is fine to insult me. I will hit back at him at a given time somewhere else.”

This personal battle runs the risk of deflecting attention from what is still going on within Uganda Wildlife Authority.  Staffers at headquarters never know from day-to-day if they will keep their jobs, and are working in an atmosphere of mistrust, where they believe people are looking through their things at night, and that their communications are being monitored.

Much of the fear comes from the fact that the dismissals can appear capricious, as the true motivations behind them are unclear.  There was a recent audit of the Friend-a-Gorilla campaign which purportedly unearthed corruption and misuse of funds.  I have not seen the report, but I have heard from people I trust within UWA that the money raised by the campaign is all accounted for, and that the variety of bank accounts is the result of PayPal not being able to deposit funds into a Ugandan account.

I have also done some research into the costs of developing a commercial website, and the $65,000 is in line with what should be expected for an international-standard website with the complexity of the Friend-a-Gorilla site with e-commerce and social networking.  Sure, websites can be done cheaper, but the goal of the Friend-a-Gorilla campaign was to put Uganda on the world scene, and you don’t want to do that with a cheesy, $1,000 website.

Granted, the campaign has not been as successful as was hoped, but that does not mean that the process was corrupt.  Also, what many people don’t remember is that this campaign was launched right after the Kampala riots in fall of 2009.  There were a few weeks where every piece of news about Uganda in the international press was about the riots.  Then along came the Friend-a-Gorilla campaign and suddenly the world’s focus on Uganda shifted to a positive story.  How much would Uganda have had to pay for a PR campaign to turn around its international image in such a short period of time?

I am very concerned about the future of the parks in Uganda.  The actions that are being taken by the new UWA board are significant, and they are being done at a speed that does not allow for proper examination of each step.  I find it interesting that Nagenda is taking such an active role and can only hope it is a sign that the top leadership in the country also has concerns about how things are being handled at UWA.

Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala

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10 responses

5 11 2010
UWA Leadership Exonerated by Parliament « Wild Thoughts from Uganda

[…] It seems that the Ugandan Parliament has seen through the motives of the new Uganda Wildlife Authority board and condemned them for trying to get at the funds held by UWA in its various accounts.  I have written about the questionable actions of the board here, here, and here. […]

26 10 2010
Charlotte

I hear Ernst and Young’s report into UWA said web site cost $110k – and as you say this kind of web site does not come cheap (especially if Saatchi and Saatchi are doing it!) My understanding is that the campaign may not have been corrupt but that there has been a lot less revenue from the campaign than had been anticipated. I think your remark about the timing of this campaign – generating positive PR for UG when desperately needed after the riots – is spot on. And let’s remember, the positive impact of Friend a Gorilla will be felt for years to come.

26 10 2010
Mark Jordahl

I had seen a mention of $110k also, but haven’t seen the report to confirm it. Do you know if that was for development or if it was follow-up support costs? I have the breakdown of the original cost proposal, and the bulk of the expense was programming, since so much had to be created from scratch for the video integration, e-commerce, Facebook and MySpace links, etc. They definitely didn’t reach their original fundraising goals for the campaign, but I remember thinking they were pretty ambitious to begin with given that it is based on $1 donations. Too bad they can’t quantify any increase in gorilla tourists choosing Uganda over Rwanda as a result of the campaign.

Mark D. Jordahl Conservation Concepts 256 775 295 126 Blog: https://conserveuganda.wordpress.com Website: http://www.ConservationConcepts.net

“Give me a Wildness whose glance no civilization can endure.” – Henry David Thoreau

25 10 2010
Charles

Last time we were at Murchison, I remember we talked about a new duck down by the water. Is this story related?
Thanks,
Charles

25 10 2010
annemarie

On a more personal note, I recently discovered John Nagenda used to play cricket in the village where I grew up in Sussex, England and was really good mates with my first boyfriend’s dad. The world is a small place!

25 10 2010
Mark Jordahl

Crazy!

Mark

25 10 2010
World Wide News Flash

Spitting Fight between Nagenda and Otafiire « Wild Thoughts from ……

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

25 10 2010
25 10 2010
Wolfgang's East Africa and Indian Ocean Tourism reports

Thanks for following this murky saga Mark …
Seems John is spot on again …
(dare I expect more Latin proverbs?!?)

25 10 2010
Mark Jordahl

Let’s hope! I could use a chuckle.

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