The re-arrest of Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere at Jinja High Court, the controversial Shs6b Presidential handshake to selected civil servants and the issuance of the infamous “stupid” orders by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma yesterday dominated the new report on the Rule of Law authored by the Uganda Law Society (ULS).
The first ever quarterly report released in Kampala titled: “ULS State of Rule of Law”, highlights several areas about the state of affairs in the country that have in the last three months (January – March) that either upheld or abused the rule of law.
The rule of law requires those who govern to limit their power to what is confined in the law. The report was launched by Prof Fredrick Ssempebwa and the president of the ULS, Mr Francis Gimara.
About the Presidential hand-shake that came top in the pecking order, the report noted that the disputed oil bonuses dished out to 42 senior government officials after being authorised by the President under Articles 98 and 99 of the Constitution. However, according to ULC, after a careful interpretation of Articles 98 and 99, they maintain that the Constitution doesn’t in any way give the President the leeway to make such awards to public servants without a supportive legal framework.
But as a way forward, ULS recommends that there should be clear guidelines on rewarding of public officials from the consolidated fund of the recently established Petroleum Fund in order to award exceptional performance while maintaining the requisite accountability and transparency.
The report also faults the Attorney General who is the government chief legal adviser for having had a conflict of interest and not properly advised government on the matter since a majority of his juniors benefited.
“ULS also noted that the Attorney General’s chambers were affected by a conflict of interest, which comprised the ability of the office to provide unbiased technical advice to the President, given that several officials in his chambers were reported to have been beneficiaries of the award,” the ULS report reads in part.
Justice Kavuma’s interim order that he issued to gag Parliament from probing the Presidential handshake, came second in the order of the abuse of the rule of law during the reporting period.
The other cases involving abuse of the rule of law highlighted by the report include the recent arrest of Kampala Capital City Authority councillors alongside Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago during the takeover of Park Yard market saying it was against the freedom of assembly as enshrined by the Constitution.