By Robert Mugoya
The immediate return of the deported MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhelleputte here in Uganda has come as another surprise to Ugandans who questioned the substance of his charges and the entire noise it raised in Uganda.
The common question on the streets of Kampala is, if as it was said government the deported the man on suspicion of “espionage” how is it possible he is coming back so quickly?
See photo above: “Institutionalized: Corruption Museveni forced MTN into a shoddy trade – pay a bribe in exchange of a CEO”
Vanhelleputte was until last January, the CEO of MTN Uganda, before deportation to his home country Belgium, allegedly for involvement in activities compromising Uganda’s national security using his position at the company.
Now with his return it looks more and more like the Museveni regime in fact was only harassing MTN to get the company to pay hundreds more millions of dollars to the regime. It has been reported that in order to have its license renewed, President Museveni was using Mafia-style tactics, since MTN was reluctant to pay the US$ 100 million the regime wanted.
CMI thugs began to harass, arrest and deport senior MTN Uganda staff.
Vanhelleputte followed three fellow expat staffers in being deported. They included Elsa Muzzolini, an Italian that was the head of mobile financial services; Olivier Prentout, a French national who was the Chief Marketing Officer, and Annie Tabura a Rwandan lady that was head of sales and distribution.
This website has learnt Vanhelleputte was contemplating suing the government of President Museveni over what he termed as irrational and illegal deportation, a case he had finalized and whose affidavits had circulated in the media.
Reports say that President Museveni came to learn that Vanhelleputte’s wife Barbra Adoso is the daughter of a former Ugandan minister George William Owaraga who also happened to be an NRM party member, and that he decided to look into the matter personally.
This, according to analysts, is typical of Museveni’s corrupt mindset. “So, all the deportation stuff was just katemba (drama) to hoodwink people, when all they wanted was money! The fact Vanhelleputte is also excused because of familial connections to NRM party bigwigs is further confirmation of the general moral bankruptcy of Museveni and his cabals.
The move has caught many by surprise with some asking how the president could easily forget charges that were raised against Vanhelleputte, and choose to call him back to Uganda. The concerns of the people are additional to other unfinished businesses between that company, its CEO and President Museveni himself.
“We don’t understand why in the first place he was deported, if a serious crime like treason in Uganda laws should be subjected to deportation, then there is something wrong if he is coming back,” some are remarking.
Additional to this, media reports in here Uganda are yet to inform readers the fate of supposed government inquiries against the company – that it was understating its revenues, and that it undeclared value of company’s sales to dodge taxes. All that allegedly happened under the watch of Vanhelleputte, who is now coming back to his former post.
Insiders in the telecom industry in Kampala talk of rampant corrupt businesses dealings between Museveni and other telecoms, involving extracting “over-the-top” (OTP) user taxes from members of public, money that is not credibly accounted. “It is as if thieves run the government of Uganda,” commented one of our informants.
Last year parliament adopted the OTP law, which led to riotous protests, with many accusing Museveni and the NRM cabal of intention to fleece money from the public while at the same time stifling Internet freedom in Uganda.