Wim Vanhelleputte

The deported Chief Executive Officer of MTN Uganda Wim Vanhelleputte Joris J will land at Entebbe International Airport in the afternoon after being cleared by President Yoweri Museveni to resume his work.

According to the clearance letter from Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo President Museveni has made a consideration and cleared Mr. Vanhelleputte.

“As you may be aware …the President of the Republic of Uganda pardoned the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Uganda Mr Vanhelleputte Wim Joris J, holder of a Belgium PPT No.EP336746. He is now scheduled to travel back to Uganda tomorrow Thursday 30th May 2019 (today) at 1430hrs aboard South African Airways SA 160,” Odongo wrote on May 29, 2019 in a letter to the Director Citizenship and Immigration Control which Eagle Online has obtained.

Minister Odongo has directed the in-charge Immigration/Security to remove Vanhelleputte from the ‘Immigration Stop List’, and allow him into the country after staying outside for over three months.
Vanhelleputte will be cleared through the VIP lounge. Museveni pardoned Vanhelleputte after holding discussions with top officials of MTN Group.

Vanhelleputte deported from Uganda in mid-February and was supposed to stay outside Uganda indefinitely. He was deported together with three other senior employees of the telecommunications company for allegedly compromising National Security using their positions at the company. They included the chief marketing officer, Olivier Prentout, the mobile money general manager Elsa Mussolini and Annie Tabura who was the general manager for sales and distribution at MTN Uganda.

However, Mussolini said she was ejected from the country for allegedly inciting violence by funding Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, the Kyadondo East MP and People Power architect.
Other staff members were investigated as part of a classified investigation and recorded statements with the Special Investigations Department. The investigations began in July 2018 after the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) raided their call centre in Mutundwe, a Kampala suburb and confiscated the company servers.

According to a source, the government at the time had received intelligence information relating to espionage, tax evasion and money laundering.
Gordian Kyomukama, the chief technology officer, has been acting as the chief executive officer following the deportation of Vanhelleputte.

When contacted for the comment, MTN-Uganda board chairman Charles Mbire was cagey asking Eagle Online “Who gave you that letter and how did you know” said before saying “I thank President Museveni for the consideration to bring him back. Silence is not a weakness but it is the weapon because in the end, you can never hide two things on the earth and that is the sun and the truth because at the end they finally come out” Mbire told Eagle Online.
This was litmus test for the business battle harden Charles Mbire which he has won.

MTN licence renewal

Eagle Online has reliably learnt that in the same meeting with MTN group executives plus MTN board Chairman, Charles Mbire, Mr. Museveni directed Uganda Communication Commission to speed up the process of renewal of the licence.

MTN is the biggest tax payer and most profitable company in Uganda.
For over a year now, the company has been negotiating with government to have its permit renewed after the initial 20-year licence to operate in Uganda expired on 20th October 2018. It is expected to pay US $118 million to renew the licence.

There has been a lot of delay since then, fired up by numerous terms set up by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). The company has been riding on temporary permits.
Among the terms put across in the negotiation included listing the company on the Uganda securities Exchange (USE), as well as having a nationwide 4G coverage – something like what Airtel has done.