Outgoing Electoral Commission boss Badru Kiggundu has rejected claims that his appointment to chair the project steering committee for Karuma and Isimba hydropower dams is a political reward.
President Museveni recently named Engineer Dr Kiggundu to lead a team monitoring the dams’ snail-pace construction works, where cracks have already been identified.
Kiggundu’s Electoral Commission has been accused by the opposition of working to ensure that Museveni wins elections. This year’s general elections were seen as particularly shambolic, with the EC failing to deliver voting materials in key opposition strongholds in and around Kampala on time. Hence, Kiggundu’s new appointment immediately got critics’ tongues wagging.
When he appeared on CBS radio’s Nze Nga Bwendaba (The Way I See It) show on Friday, Kiggundu defended his role, saying he was selected on the strength of his expertise in civil/ structural engineering.
“I don’t think it’s about rewarding people,” Kiggundu told CBS radio’s Alex Nsubuga. “The appointments are based on expertise. I was not there when they were choosing me. A minister is a political animal who just waits for recommendations and then makes decisions. We have been appointed to see that the works on these sites move on well and make recommendations.”
Kiggundu is a former engineering lecturer and dean of the faculty of Technology at Makerere University. Construction of Karuma and Isimba dams has been dogged by reports of poor supervision, with officials in the energy ministry and Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) bickering over who should have more powers.
Museveni, who has pegged Uganda’s fortunes on huge infrastructure investments, wants to ensure that the 600MW Karuma (worth Shs 5.2 trillion) and the 183MW Isimba (Shs 1.4 trillion) are completed on schedule.
Kiggundu is deputised on the committee by John Berry, the Bujagali Energy Limited boss. Members include permanent secretaries of the energy and finance ministries, as well as the chief executive officers of UEGCL and Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited. They are expected to submit quarterly reports to the president.