By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: President Yoweri Museveni has granted former MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer Wim Vanhelleputte a presidential pardon and allowed him to take back his position at the telecom company.
The president has also ordered the Immigration Department to remove him from the Stop List. Mr Vanhelleputte, who was deported in February over allegations of undermining state security, is expected back in Uganda Thursday aboard a South African Airways flight. A letter from the office of the Internal Affairs Minister to the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Control, a copy of which this Website has seen, directs that Vanhelleputte be allowed back in Kampala.
“This is…to direct that he is immediately removed from the immigration Stop List, and accordingly be allowed into the country. By copy of this letter, the In-Charge Immigration/Security at Entebbe Airport are accordingly asked to allow him access and immigration clearance through Entebbe VIP lounge. Treat as urgent,” reads the letter dated May 29, stamped “Very Urgent.” The surprise return of Mr Vanhelleputte who is married to a Ugandan, is likely to put security chiefs on the spot, after separate investigations exonerated him. Vanhelleputte was deported in February this year. In a deportation order document signed by the Minister of internal affairs, Vanhelleputte was deemed an undesirable immigrant virtue of section 52(g) of the Uganda Citizenship and immigration Control Act. Vanhelleputte’s deportation came weeks after two other MTN staff, Annie Bilenga Tabura and Olivier Prentout had been deported. Tabura, a Rwandan national, was the head of sales and distribution, whereas Olivier Prentout was the telecommunications chief marketing officer.
On Tuesday 12th February 2019, Mr Vanhelleputte, a Belgian national is said to have been summoned by the Chieftaincy Of military Intelligence (CMI) in an investigation into MTN’s operations, shortly before being deported to Belgium. President Museveni, last month, met with Wim on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to “discuss an array of issues”. It is perhaps this discussion that could have led him to being granted the presidential pardon.