Judicial officers early this week petitioned the Kampala High Court seeking orders to compel its Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana to vacate his office immediately on account that it is not known in the Judiciary structure.
Bigirimana joined the Judiciary from the Ministry of Gender n July this year, replacing Kagole Kivumbi.
“The Appointing Authority has directed that you be transferred from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to the Judiciary as Secretary to the Judiciary with immediate effect,” Dr J. Mitala, the head of Public Service and secretary to the Cabinet said in July 26, 2019 letter to Bigirimana.
“On receipt of this letter, prepare to hand over your office within the existing regulations and report to your new station without delay.”
Now the Judicial Officers, under their umbrella body – Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) – allege that the Judiciary is not a ministry or a government department to have a Permanent Secretary as per section 10 of the Public Service Act and Article 174 of the Constitution since it’s an arm of State.
They say Bigirimana’s office in the Judiciary is illegal and it’s jeopardizing its [judiciary] independence.
“An injunction under Section 38 (2) of the Judicature Act that the Permanent Secretary should vacate immediately as the Judiciary is neither a ministry nor a government department to have a permanent secretary as per Article 174 of the constitution, section 10 of the Public Service Act but should be treated as independent as provided under Article 128 of the constitution,” UJOA stated.
The officers are also challenging Bigirimana’s move to slash their monthly allowances that was increased based on the recent salary raise, arguing that the same is illegal, improper, irrational and abuse of law.
However, all those claims seem to be just cover-up of the feud between the two parties.
Here are the real reasons why judicial officers are against Bigirimana;
In the first days as Judiciary PS, Bigirimana made a rare staff shakeup that saw over 60 staff being transferred to new work stations countrywide and over 500 staff whose contracts will end on December 31, 2019, have been informed that, they will have to look for jobs elsewhere.
One contract staff who preferred anonymity, confirmed that it is true; contracts for support staff will be no more by the end of this year.
A highly placed source at the Judiciary told us that the transfers are malicious and a one man’ s job.
He said that the Human Resource Department of the Judiciary was being run by just one woman, Apophia Namutamba Tumwine, the Principal Human Resource Officer.
According to the structure of the Judiciary, the Department is supposed to have a Commissioner HR, an Assistant Commissioner HR, Two Principal Human Resource Officers, a Senior Human Resource Officer and Human Resource Officer.
Currently, the Commissioner is on Interdiction, The Principal Human Resource Officer, a one Patrick Barugahare has been transferred back to Public Service following a disagreement with Tumwine. It is believed that Tumwine, who is Bigirimana’s right hand woman, ordered for Barugahare’s transfer.
Tumwine joined the Judiciary in 2018 from Ministry of Gender where she worked closely with Bigirimana. Watchdog Uganda has learnt that Tumwine was moved because of continuous scuffles with the Commissioner HR in Gender ministry.
Tumwine has been accused by staff as being corrupt, tribalistic and abusive of her office.
She is said to have transferred all staff working previously in the PS’s office to other duty stations claiming that Bigirimana did not want them there.
A one Hanifa Nakalema, a Secretary was transferred to Commercial Court and Mwasiti Nakagolo, an Office Attendant to Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court.
She went ahead and recruited her Sister, Esther Mukyala into the same office and brother Eric Waiswa, as Office Supervisor.
“Apophia controls the Judiciary and has so much power. She can fire, hire and transfer staff as she pleases,” our source revealed.
Some of the projects she runs include; the weekly Friday Health Runs, the HIV Project, the Beautification of Courts project, Transport Office, Deployment and Transfer of staff, Renewal of Contracts for staff, payroll, staff trainings among others, which all translate into millions of shillings for Tumwine every week.
Staff further accuse her of forcing them to sign money for staff trainings yet they’re normally just meetings, defrauding money meant for beautification of Courts (Shs55 million per quarter) and manipulating the payroll and embezzling Judge’s allowances.
Inside sources also disclose that Bigirimana is not the problem but Tumwine.
“All the Chaos and confusion is Tumwine’s making! Edmund Twinomujuni was taken off the payroll by the same lady, when his ex-wife complained about their domestic issues. And a number of Office Supervisors on Contract have been told that their contracts won’t be renewed simply because she wants the positions for herself,” a source said.
According to the Public Service Standing Orders, a civil servant can be transferred within service after staying in a position for at least three years. The guiding document indicates that transfers should be done in public interest and should never be used as punitive measure.
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