Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has a new Managing Director.
Mr Winston Agaba was appointed this month after an extended search by the UBC Board of Directors. He will officially start work on 1 June 2015, taking over from Mr Angello Nkezza, who served as acting managing director when the post fell vacant in 2014.
The 48-year-old joins UBC with 20 years working experience in management, marketing, sales, communications and public relations. He will be responsible for managing the corporation’s funds, property and business, as well as the administration, organisation and control of staff.
Industry watchers hope that Mr Agaba’s appointment will help to transform the public service broadcaster. There is also optimism that he and the recently-appointed Board of Directors will create stability and growth after a decade of managerial tumult at the corporation.
In a brief statement to ACME Agaba said: “With my rich working experience and exposure from the private sector, I shall infuse new life into the UBC brand to becoming commercially-viable and a truly aspirational Ugandan enterprise.”
This will be no easy feat for him to pull off. Since UBC was established a decade ago it has been beset by managerial and financial troubles that led to the resignation or sacking of four managing directors.
Instability at the top
Edgar Tabaro, the first MD, resigned from the job in 2006 under circumstances that were not publicly disclosed. He was replaced by Francis Gimara, who was the UBC corporation secretary at the time. Half a year after his appointment, Gimara and three other senior managers were sacked by the old UBC board. Gimara was succeeded by another UBC corporation secretary, Edward Mugasa Musinguzi, whose appointment lasted until May 2011 when he was fired after a report from his parent ministry revealed cases of “massive corruption”, the sale of corporation land and financial irregularities.
That same year, Mr Paul Kihika took office. He promised to turn around UBC’s fortunes and restore its dignity and name. However no sooner had Kihika assumed the position than he was dragged to the court accused of authoring a false report to politically persecute, malign and steal his predecessor’s job.
During his short time in office Kihika was investigated by the Inspectorate of Government that discovered several management irregularities at the public broadcaster. The Observer newspaper also revealed details of an investigation ordered by President Yoweri Museveni to ascertain claims that Kihika was incompetent and had failed to stop financial mess at UBC.
Kihika’s problems climaxed late last year when he was sacked by the new Board of Directors and replaced by Angello Nkeza. He attempted to fight his sacking in court, but the case was dismissed by High Court judge Elizabeth Musoke.
The challenges ahead
The new MD, Winston Agaba, is expected to work closely with the Board of Directors to clean up the mess his predecessors left in their wake. Among the immediate issues he will have to deal with are a Ushs28.6 billion debt to suppliers and an outstanding tax debt of over Ushs3.5 billion.
The 2014 Auditor General’s report on statutory corporations noted that UBC had no credit and debt management policies and is in urgent need of manuals on sales, taxation and credit. Additionally it pointed out that UBC outposts lack equipment records, buildings are in a poor condition and the corporation’s land is at risk of encroachment because several plots of land are not surveyed or titled.
The Auditor General also raised concern about the 247 staff with no valid work contracts and the vacancies in key senior positions.
While the Nathan Igeme Nabeta-led board has dealt with a few pressing human resource matters, there is still a lot of work to be done to regularise terms of service and to motivate an over-worked and underpaid staff.
Another area of concern is UBC’s declining audience figures mainly caused by the absence of innovative programming to attract a new generation of viewers and listeners. Advertising revenue, UBC’s major source of income, is barely enough to fund its budget. While it is intended to be a non-partisan national broadcaster, UBC still carries the baggage of its pre-2005 years and is largely viewed as a mouthpiece for President Museveni and the ruling government.
Mr Agaba will likely find himself the focus of intense scrutiny as he attempts to resolve these issues as he takes up the post on the cusp of the 2015/16 election season and works to build the brand of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation in an increasingly fragmented media market.
SIDE BAR: Who is Mr Agaba?
- 2012 to 2015: Managing Partner with Media Services Limited, a marketing and PR Agency in Uganda.
- 2010: Consultant with MO TV
- 2009: Sales and Marketing Manager of Foris Telecom – IN CONNECTING U.
- 2005-2008: Country Manager Pulse Uganda, a strategic partner in the launch and set up of Uganda Health Marketing Group.
- 1995-2005: He worked with Uganda Breweries Limited as a brand manager for seven years and later as a public relations manager for three years.
- 1995-1996: Part-time lecturer at the National College of Business Studies Nakawa, in Kampala.
Mr Agaba holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Political Science from Makerere University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from Uganda Management Institute, a Diploma in Hospitality from National College of Business Studies Nakawa and other qualifications in management and brand building from Diageo and Management Training and Advisory Center (MTAC).