KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – The Uganda Tourism Association, the national tourism apex body, held its annual general meeting (AGM) recently here in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The leadership, however, disappointed their constituents, when they failed to present annual accounts, leave alone audited annual accounts, as the constitution of UTA demands.
The association president also failed to submit a formal written annual report to the members, which caused consternation among the more sober attendees, who raised questions why an AGM was called without full reports and accountability submitted to the member associations together with the notice and agenda in violation of the association constitution.
Proposals to defer the meeting until accounts and accountability reports had been produced, however, were not allowed by the president, who then added to the association woes when declaring he was stepping down to concentrate on other matters, ostensibly to escape some level of censure. The shambles did not end there, as the association also failed to invite past presidents to the meeting, thought to be an almost deliberate action to spare themselves further embarrassment and challenges to their feeble performance from more authoritative quarters.
Former UTA vice president Amos Wekesa was eventually elected as new UTA president in the absence of other willing candidates, but this may well be challenged by constituent members of UTA for proceeding to elections without first clearing and completing the agenda item accounts and failing to discharge, or not discharge for that matter, the previous executive from their financial and other obligations and liabilities.
Observations from participants of the meeting were also passed to this columnist, when they complained that UTA in any case had apparently gone into hiding over the past year, was accused to have been largely absent from the national scene, missed out on industry coordination, were invisible during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, last year and importantly failed to participate in the budget preparation process under the auspices of the Private Sector Foundation, where the tourism sector working group reportedly never met for the entire year.
The association was also generally said to have been silent in public on the most pressing conservation and tourism issues that moved the sector and the nation during the past 12 months like the Mabira question, attempts to mine for lime stone in Queen Elizabeth National Park and the mowing down of a rare tree forest to construct a hydroelectric plant at the edge of the same park.
Also mentioned by upset callers was the failure to speak up on the reconstitution of the Uganda Tourist Board and appointments for a new board of trustees and the implementation of crucial areas under the new tourism act. One participant with a long and sound standing in the sector in fact accused the now departed president and his committee to have rendered UTA nearly irrelevant and made it impotent as a major trade platform during their one year term of office.
When trying to make relevant inquiries with the former president it was then also discovered that his email address was no longer functional, leading to a dead end and leaving many questions unanswered.