KAMPALA, Uganda: On a busy working day as she went along with her official business, Kiboga Chief Magistrate Susan Okweny was cut short by Court brokers. They announced that her official car had been sold off. Shocked and scared to the marrow, she was not only lost for words but the right decision at the time as well. She chose to let go of the car.
In a similar case, Justice Alexandria Nkonge Rugadya got a minor accident in her official car, a Pajero Station Wagon registration number UG552J. It was taken along with others for repair and that’s the last she set her eyes on the monster. On inquiring, the two Lordships were told that the cars had been laid off. Period.
It has since emerged that the two vehicles, plus three others in good shape, had been sold off by the Secretary to the Judiciary (also Permanent Secretary) Kagole Kivumbi. And disturbingly, highly placed sources in the judiciary have intimated to us how the entire lot was sold off at a laughable Shs10M altogether, after the same being repaired at a Shs45M cost.
The above and several other complaints below, are enclosed in a dossier to the Inspector General of Government (IGG), calling for thorough audits at the Judiciary and in particular the conduct of the PS Kagole Kivumbi who has been at the helm of administration for less than a year. That Kagole could have sold the vehicles to himself is just another serious allegation pending thorough investigations.
Probably penned by a concerned knowledgeable judicial staff, the missive also tackles the ongoing renovation at the High Court where, pavers are being laid by Palwan Engineering Limited contractors at a cost of Shs600M. The ongoing works, plus the sale of cars are all reported to have been executed without the properly laid PPDA process.
Contacted over the matter, Isaac Muwata, the then Chairman Judiciary Contracts Committee claimed the procedure was followed but quickly exempted himself, referring us to the PS for details. “Some procedures must have been taken but kindly check with the SJ (Secretary to the Judiciary Kagole Kivumbi) for that information.
Muwata and his entire committee members were recently dissolved and he was replaced by Ms. Sarah Langa, the Deputy Registrar Civil Division, in what the dossier authors attribute to enormous malicious transfers and punishments by the PS. “In all Friday meetings where he (Kagole) briefs administrators, he used to complain about Mr. Muwata’s strictness before he lastly replaced him.”
On his part, the Solicitor General, Francis Atoke said he was personally aware about the works at High Court but not officially sure to have seen the documents to its effect. “I have seen the renovation going on but I haven’t seen the procedural documents. Mine is a big office where I might not see everything. I however request that you ask the SJ. They must have gone through some process. He should be the right person to give those details.”
Kivumbi is also put on spot over mismanagement of the Judiciary funds where, he is faulted to have drawn Shs200M from the High Court Registrar’s Account on June 15th and the same has got no single accountability to its usage. “He also has no respect for the CJ (Chief Justice) who would have called him to order. He never attends CJ’s meetings claiming he’s above that.”
As if these are not anomalies enough, Kagole is accused of improper recruitments and award of scholarships without interviews and or any properly laid measures. In such cases, he recruited a one Rehema Nassuuna to the Judiciary Communications desk yet her application letter clearly indicates she asked for a different job at the independent Judicial Service Commission instead.
On scholarships, we have established that Kagole, using Judiciary funds, has paid Shs100M tuition for his daughter Irene Nambatya, a Grade One Magistrate to go for studies at an overseas university. “He has been at the Judiciary for less than one year and yet trainings within the institution are all approved by the council. The list pending approvals is long. How then did his daughter beat the cue and procedures altogether?” cries the authors.
Kagole’s accusers fault him of highhandedly managing the Judiciary affairs with impunity, keeping on tenterhooks, all judicial staff, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and other highly placed Lordships not spared. “He boasts of how he has come with a whip to rein in on judicial officers. He is even believed to be the invisible hand behind the emerging negative stories against Judges in the media,” reads the dossier.
On boasting to “have come with a whip,” Kagole Kivumbi himself confirms it in a telephone interview with the Investigator on Sunday. “Mr. Ndawula (read this reporter), is it bad to renovate buildings? Is it bad to repair cars?” he started without first listening to the entire pile of complaints leveled against him. He went on to brand the judicial staff ‘thieves’.
“Those are thieves who must be ashamed by themselves. They used to steal all the money meant for renovations and repairs. I came to clean the institution and I will do whatever it takes to get rid of the wrong elements. Are you aware that I dissolved the entire contracts committee,” he boasted before we reminded him of the procedures’ question.
“Mr. Ndawula, do you believe I, in my seniority can do such things without following the procedures,” he asked before we reminded him that it’s because he’s rumored not to have done so that we are engaging him. Asked whether he could back up his defense with some documentary evidence, he referred us to the Judiciary Spokesman Solomon Muyita.
Contacted on Sunday, Muyita promised he would get the documents and get back to us on Monday. Six days down the road, he was yet to get back to us. On another attempt today (Friday 18th August 2017), he rhymed the same stanzas. “I have been quite busy but let me check and get back to you.”
This time round, he did get back after five hours, only to refer us to Kamama Auctioneers whom he said, handled the entire disposal exercise on behalf of the Judiciary. We could hardly establish whether the Auctioneers are pre-qualified government contractors to handle the exercise.