When Paul Bukenya, made his first appearance before the media as the new spokesperson of the Electoral commission, Social Media went up in flames.
The prevalent surprise was that he was calm, and collected, and very soft spoken even amidst malicious questioning.
He rocked the cloak of composure like a music orchestrator in his element. Which was, perhaps, as many pointed out; very unlike his predecessor, Jotham Taremwa! “He is very polite, even with a tight schedule, Paul Bukenya creates time for everyone that approaches his desk,” tweeted Jackie Arinda. She was one of the many people who through Social Media commended Bukenya about his composure while hurling insults towards Taremwa.
The public noticed all this, because they were pitting Bukenya’s fresh tenure against the reputation of former EC spokesperson, Jotham Taremwa. In his time, Taremwa had cultivated the public belief that the EC spokesperson had to represent the Electoral Commission’s word; as many referred to his speech demeanor, very arrogantly, for it to be effective. He was often nonchalant in his dismissal of many a public query.
One time he spent a huge chunk of his NBS TV interview on his phone, replying texts and scrolling.
“Bukenya is the exact opposite of his arrogant predecessor,” Jack Sekubunga noted on twitter.
Taremwa was, to the public, just another of the four senior EC staff (including his counterpart, long serving Secretary Sam Rwakoojo) that had gotten sacked. But in truth, the public were celebrating the sacking of Taremwa for only the side they had seen on TV.
Reliable sources have revealed to us that the negative consequences of his arrogance extended even inside the Electoral commission. Sources intimate that up until his firing, vices that he and Sam Rwakojo orchestrated were eating up the Electoral Commission like a cancer and they were ousted before they’d spread to the whole EC.
To the point that even when Mr. Rwakoojo, who had been the Secretary to the Commission from 2002, had just had his contract renewed effective December 2019, he was sacked miserably in July 2020. And here is why.
Sources at the Electoral Commision reveal that over the years, the Electoral Commission was able to execute its mandate fairly well, even when faced with serious challenges.
“Even when we had low salaries for staff, it never affected the work force. This could mainly be attributed to a committed and experienced workforce. The commitment was as a result of the management style of openness and fairness that had hitherto been practiced by the successive Commissions as well as the Management team,” explained a source.
However, over the past few years the situation drastically changed.
“Never before had the technical team been so divided. Despite the recent salary increment to staff, morale is lower than it was before the increment. This is largely attributed to a demoralized Management team. Mr. Rwakoojo Sam, who was the Head of the Management team, was majorly responsible for this state of affairs.
He chose to openly practice favouritism for some members of Management in many ways, while harassing others that were perceived to potentially challenge this state of affairs.
He chose to further his interests through Jotham Taremwa. Taremwa, obviously with the backing of the Secretary, had hijacked most of the operations of the Electoral Commission, while other Managers were withdrawn and feared to take any decision or action,” Stated one source.
Blackmail and Intimidation
Other reliable sources reveal that Jotham Taremwa made it a habit to use blackmail and intimidation of staff so as to have his way in whatever situation.
“He would, for example, claim that a particular individual is of a dubious political inclination or more often, brand principled individuals to be sabotaging the Secretary/Accounting Officer so that his record is tarnished.
Jotham used to claim to be highly “connected” therefore his decisions and schemes would not be questioned by anyone. He had no respect for authority other than for the Secretary. For those he could not easily intimidate, he would uses money to buy his way into or out of many situations,” explained our sources.
Failed Succession Schemes
According to reliable sources, prior to the renewal of Mr. Rwakoojo’s contract, it was common knowledge within EC that he wanted to be succeeded by Mr. Taremwa when the former retires. He, therefore, started preparing him for the “big office.”
“Those were the days Mr. Taremwa would operate his business from the Secretary’s office. This discouraged other officers to go to Secretary’s office for usual business because Taremwa was always there, flipping through documents and commenting on every matter that other officers would have come to share with the Secretary, including confidential ones,” explained our sources.
A source in the circle of Taremwa disclosed that mid 2019, when it was anticipated that the contract of the then Director Finance and Administration was about to expire, Mr. Taremwa started positioning himself to take over, as a much-needed stepping stone to the ultimate office of the Secretary.
“In the process, he started blackmailing perceived competitors for the same office, including writing anonymous slanderous letters about them. He was so sure of taking the office that he was even saying it openly that he is the next Director for Finance and Administration.
He was not as lucky, however, that by the time the office fell vacant, the air all around the Commission was so ominous and literally everyone was so wary of Mr. Taremwa in that position that another officer was nominated to take over in acting capacity and was later confirmed,” our sources revealed.
Efforts to reach both Sam Rwakojo and Jotham Taremwa were futile.