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Uganda: Parliament freezes adverts to private media houses

Parliament. Parliament has locked out all other media houses in Uganda from running the institution’s advertisement and ring-fenced the largely government-owned newspaper, New Vision, as its sole service provider in a procurement process tainted with intrigue, questions around transparency and flouting of rules.
The decision reached by Parliament’s procurement unit has already raised dust internally with the contracts committee questioning the unprecedented decision in a heated meeting where members of the two committees clashed on Wednesday.
“The procurement unit usually asks service providers to express interest in doing business with Parliament after which some get pre-qualified and it is from that pool that the service providers are selected,” a member of the procurement committee, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, told Daily Monitor in an interview.

According to our source, Ms Julian Kaganzi, the procurement unit chief communicated the development to the shock of many in her own department but went ahead and submitted New Vision as the sole pre-qualified service provider for media services.
Had the Wednesday meeting with the contracts committee been calm, the institution was set to issue a notice announcing New Vision as the sole service provider but after deliberations at the meeting, it was resolved that the matter be shelved as the anomaly is sorted out.
“We raised objections and said even if other media houses didn’t have a document or two, can we engage them and we go back to the drawing board but some colleagues appeared hell-bent on proving a point,” the source said.

Attempts by Daily Monitor to reach Ms Kaganzi were futile as her known telephone contact was unavailable by press time while Mr Patrick Kunobwa, her immediate supervisor and director of Finance, said: “Whatever you are saying is news to me. Talk to Mr Chris Obore [Parliament’s Director Communication and public affairs] because I am not authorised to speak to you.” Asked to respond to concerns about transparency in the procurement process, Mr Kunobwa said: “Please don’t say there is suspected fraud. Words like that are not good for my heart, I can collapse.”
Mr Kunobwa also refused to explain what informed the decision to ring-fence the advertising service, worth billions of shillings, to one media house, especially considering that some of Vision Group’s print and broadcast platforms have missed out on preferential treatment.

When contacted, Mr Obore could neither confirm nor deny the eye-brow raising development, but said such a decision would be in contravention of the Parliament Commission’s own commitment to working with all media houses.
“The position of the commission is that all media houses are stakeholders we work with. What could have happened may be a result of incompetence and manipulation by the spoilt children of yesterday’s bureaucracy whose orientation is hostile to quality, cost-effectiveness and timely service delivery,” Mr Obore said in a telephone interview.

©Alleastafrica and Daily Monitor

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