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We are not fighting UWA, says UTB boss Stephen Asiimwe

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has distanced itself from an alleged war with the under-fire leadership of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

President Museveni on May 2, 2017 wrote to Justice Irene Mulyagonja, the Inspector General of Government, asking her to investigate “wrong doing” in UWA.

The president enumerated eight mistakes that he said UWA’s top management had made, including collaborating with two Chinese diplomats to export ivory from Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

However, it turned out that the president had been fed on wrong information with regard to the Chinese diplomats, as the individuals he mentioned had never worked at the Chinese Embassy.

At the same time, a source alleged that some individuals at UWA’s sister organisation Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) were behind the allegations contained in the president’s letter to the IGG.

However, UTB Executive Director Stephen Asiimwe told The Observer yesterday that none of their staff had a hand in the president’s letter.

“No single person at UTB is involved [because] we don’t write to the president. We are neither his research team nor his informers,” Asiimwe said.

He emphasised that there was no bad blood between the two organisations as insinuated in the news story, Ivory scam: shame as Uganda apologises to China, The Observer, June 12).

“We deny any involvement in this. In fact, there is no war between us [UTB] and UWA because even right now, we have taken some Chinese tour and travel company operators to Bwindi Impenetrable Gorilla National Park, and UWA gave us free permits,” Asiimwe said.

UTB boss Stephen Asiimwe

This newspaper reported on Monday that President Museveni’s government had apologised to the Chinese government for falsely implicating  their diplomats in illicit ivory trade, which resulted in a rare diplomatic spat between the two allies.

In a statement issued yesterday, UTB further said that the budget couldn’t have been a source of friction between the two organisations as alleged in the story because each body has  its own mandate and budget.

“Every government entity has an independent budget and nowhere in the rules is one allowed to encroach on the budget of another entity,” Asiimwe said.

Noting that UTB has a representative of UWA on its board, Asiimwe added that as a statutory body mandated to market Uganda’s tourism potential, his would be the last entity to encourage fights within the tourism sector.

“The ivory scam is not good for our tourism industry, it is an indictment on the industry because any negative publicity [about the sector] affects us,” Asiimwe said.