COSASE Questions Minister’s Decision to Extend UWEC’s Mandate Despite Planned Merger with UWA

The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has questioned the decision by the Minister for Public Service, Hon. Wilson Muruli Mukasa, to extend the operational mandate of the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC).

According to the Uganda Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2024, which was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni on 14 June 2024, UWEC’s functions are supposed to be integrated into the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as a directorate, effective from 01 July 2024.

Hon. Eddie Kwizera, Member of Parliament for Bukimbiri County, challenged UWEC’s Executive Director, Dr. James Musinguzi, on why the center continues to operate independently despite the mandated merger.

Dr. Musinguzi explained that the Minister for Public Service had issued a letter extending UWEC’s operations for an additional three months.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Medard Sseggona, criticized the minister’s actions, arguing that they undermined the parliamentary process that scrutinized and approved the mergers of entities through various rationalisation Bills.
“We are curious as to where the minister will secure the funds for their payment and what authority he has to alter Parliament’s decision without any consultation on the matter,” Sseggona remarked.
He referenced the earlier deliberations on the rationalisation Bills when Parliament tasked the Public Service Minister with their implementation.
“Recall that Hon. Muruli Mukasa was questioned in Parliament on this issue, and he assured us that by 30 June 2024, everything would be resolved to commence the rationalisation of these entities,” Sseggona added.

He mentioned that the minister would be summoned to explain the decision to extend UWEC’s operations and clarify the source of funding for the extended period.
“This indicates that the government was not ready for the rationalisation, and they are returning with additional proposals,” Sseggona stated.

Dr. Musinguzi informed the Committee that despite UWEC’s budget increase from Shs9.2 billion in the financial year 2022/2023 to Shs21 billion in the financial year 2023/2024, the resources remain insufficient.
“There is a need to augment UWEC’s operational budget by Shs6 billion to cover the welfare, health, and nutrition of the increased number of animals at the center. Additionally, an emergency fund can be established to handle emergencies like animal rescue,” Musinguzi proposed.