KAMPALA – The Parliamentary Appointments Committee is vetting the recently appointed judges ahead following their secondment by President Yoweri Museveni recently.
The vetting process follows the secondment decision by President Museveni to appoint fifteen judges, 12 of whom are to serve on the High Court Bench while the three on the Court of Appeal Bench.
In his letter announcing the appointments, the Presidential list included Irene Mulyagonja, the current Inspector General of Government (IGG), Muzamiru Kibeedi Mutangula, a lawyer in private practice and Justice Monica Mugenyi Kalegira, the current principal judge of the East African Court of Justice based in Tanzania.
The other appointments include; Vincent Mugabo, the current Public Relations Officer Judiciary, Immaculate Busingye, Isaac Muwata, Jesse Byaruhanga Rugyema, Isah Serukuma, Susan Abinyo, who are all registrars in various courts.
Esta Nambayo, the current Chief Registrar, Jane Okuo Kajuga, Spokesperson Office of Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Boniface Wamala, Personal Assistant to Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Philip Odoki, Personal assistant to the Deputy Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo, Victoria Katamba Nakintu Nkwanga and Jeanne Rwakakoko.
In an interview with journalists after his vetting, Kibede said, “I have what it takes to execute my duties and I call on your support.”
However, Justice Mulyagonja declined to comment and instead asked journalists to wait for a report from the Committee.
If all the 12 High Court judges are approved by Parliament, this will brings the total number of judges to 62 although the plan by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs is to have 82 judges to deal with the rising case backlog in courts.
During the consideration of the 2018/2019 budget, the proposal by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to hire more judges and government lawyers was halted by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, cautioning to first have the new salary structures for the two groups is harmonised.
Kahinda Otafire, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs while appearing before the Committee said that the Ministry was seeking to increase the number of Government Lawyers from 300 to 442, with Shs2Bn earmarked for the exercise.
The Judiciary also sought for Shs18.37Bn in its wage bill to implement the restructuring process with the Judiciary looking to increase the number of High Court judges from 51 to 82 so as to match the increase in High Court Circuits from 13 to 20.
The new wage bill would also go towards increasing the magisterial areas from 38 to 82 a plan that requires an increase in Chief magistrates from 47 to 100 and magistrates Grade one from 215 to 532.
Although the Legal Committee welcomed the proposal, the MPs argued that there was need for the implementation of the new structure be undertaken in a phased manner starting Financial Year 2019/2020 after the pay reforms that were promised by Government are finalised in 2018/2019, saying there is also need to fast track the harmonisation of the salaries of the current lawyers before new lawyers can be brought on board.