Nearly all top companies who value their image and reputation have a set office for interacting with the public, the media and speaking on behalf of their brand. The start of the year comes with strategies to improve, align and have a clear reputation that will drive the company’s image in a positive mode among its consumers.
However, some inherent issues may stand in the way of that vision. In this article, we list the top PRO’s that will have a tough time meddling through the murky territory of keeping their brand name tick and undamaged;
Chris Obore; Parliament
The former political and investigative reporter at Daily Monitor jumped into the communications fray when he notched the communications director job at parliament. Chris who previously gave government a hard time with his hard hitting stories was silenced when he was handed the parliament job sending him into defence mode where he had to respond to the interests of the legislature.
Managing parliament’s image won’t be a smooth sail for the tough talking Obore. The August house has been at times deemed “selfish” with some of their deliberations including vowing for un-taxed earnings and 200m car grants that the Ugandan public find unfair. Besides that, the multi-party political environment gives opposition MP’s a vote to attack the other arms of government like the executive from parliament putting Obore on the receiving end.
Paddy Ankunda; Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (Army)
The army is the country’s chief defence unit that is charged with ensuring the country is protected against attacks and to defend the security and peace of Ugandans. The army’s role in the governance of the country is undoubtable. What will break Paddy is managing the image of a unit that will do all it takes to sustain peace and security.
Uganda’s excursions in neighbouring countries especially Somalia where the country has been accused of wanting to “shine” in the AMISOM army leaves Ankunda in a stressful position. Also internal failures like the recently exposed arms deals saga involving senior army officials, stories of tortured soldiers, procurement messes will make 2017 a patchy year for the soft spoken army spokesperson
Ofwono Opondo; Uganda Media Centre
OO as he is fondly called in the media circles isn’t new to controversy. His tenure as executive director of the Uganda media centre was recently renewed giving him another lease of life at the helm of government communications unit.
What however will break OO is the un-ending drama that leaves government with a bloody nose. Already the 7bn cash bonanza doled to senior government officials is tainting the image of the country. Other usual sagas like contested procurement deals will leave Ofwono’s job mired in mud defending government whose image control mechanisms are not guaranteed.
Sarah Banage; Uganda Revenue Authority
The Uganda revenue authority is charged with collection of taxes for the government to fund operations for the country. Sarah Banage is an experienced PR professional who was in Makerere university’s pioneer mass communication class of the year 1990 making her the crop of journalists who graduated and turned to public relations.
Sarah’s undoing will be the continued failure of the tax body to hit their collection targets seeing that they have been having deficits in the previous years, closing out on smugglers, under-declaration and closing in on entities that are dodging remitting their due taxes.
Already Ms. Banage is grappling with the controversy surrounding the reward of some of her seniors including her former boss Allen Kagina, her current boss Doris Akol, colleagues like Kateshumbwa who were beneficiaries of the 7bn capital gains tax cash bonanza. 2017 has surely started on a hard note for her, and will end in a similar manner
Christine Alupo; Bank of Uganda
Christine is barely known in the media circles. However, her job places her in constant seek out from the media who want information from the country’s central bank. As BOU director of communications, she is charged with relaying the bank’s position on all monetary and fiscal issues.
In the year 2016, inflation grew to over 12% and already the outlook for 2017 doesn’t look any better. The country will continue to suffer the effects of the post-election depression that saw cash inflows reduce with investor uncertainty. Also, reduced remittances of Ugandans living in the diaspora means reduced forex inflow that has seen the shilling hit a record high. 2017 will certainly keep Ms. Alupo on her toes as she defends the central bank
Ritah Namisango; Makerere University
Makerere university was closed off on 1st November 2016 on the orders of president Museveni for a period of nearly 8 weeks. The closure was sparked off by the teaching staff’s decision to down their tools demanding increase in their allowances.
Before that, the non-teaching staff had too thrown in the towel and downed their tools over salary issues. Already a probe report points to billions of shillings collected from tuition fees and donors but unaccounted for.
The continued squabbling between the top university administrators and students body, MUASA the university teaching association, issues of lecturers sleeping with students for marks and other sex scandals continue to rock the university putting Ritah Namisango on tenterhooks. The year will continue to be hell fire for her seeing that there are many unresolved issues.
Sandor Walusimbi- Umeme;
Sandor is an experience corporate and public affairs professional. With experience spanning over 25 years in across FMCG sectors including breweries, telecoms and PR consultancy, he is a force to reckon with in the PR world. He was appointed Umeme’s communications manager last year replacing Henry Rugamba whose contract wasn’t renewed.
Umeme is the country’s power provision company. The publicly owned utility company headquarted in South Africa holds the power license for Uganda with a concession lasting years. However, Umeme’s image is in red. With incessant blackouts, billing issues, increasing tariffs and coverage issues, Umeme is loved and loathed in equal measure. Mr. Walusimbi will have a rough time changing that image in the year 2017 when Umeme is increasing their domestic rates.
Other public relations chiefs who will grapple with image issues for their companies include Airtel’s Faith Bugonzi who will have to face the millions of subscribers that complain about the daily network failures, Heineken’s Steven Baryevuga whose brand seems to have taken a lull in the last year with only promises of unveiling new additions to their portfolio that will too face off competition from UBL and NBL, MTN’s Mapula Bodibe whose brand seems to attract the most complaints with missing data and FUFA’s Ahmed Hussein who will be tasked to explain Uganda Cranes’ performance and confidence levels in the upcoming AFCON tournament.