KAMPALA — Mr Aggrey Kibenge, the Permanent Secretary in the Gender ministry, has directed senior officials of Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) whose contracts have expired to hand over office immediately.
The contracts for the EOC commissioners, including the chairperson, Ms Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi, expired in January and the President has not communicated his decision on whether or not he will renew some of them. Three commissioners including Ms Ntambi are however, eligible to be reappointment for another five-year- term. The other two commissioners are not eligible for reappointment.
Other commission members are; Mr Joel Cox Ojuko, Mr Patrobas Sirabo Wafula, Ms Zaminah Malole and Mr Dennis Nduhura.
According to Kibenge, the commissioners were supposed to hand over office on February 5 but this ceremony was postponed.
However, in a February 19 letter to the Under Secretary in the Gender ministry, the officials, with the exception of Mr Ojuko should hand over handover immediately. Mr Ojuko had complained that his contract runs out in July 2021 and not January 2021 as the other officers. The PS said Mr Ojuko can meanwhile remain in office as they look into his matter.
“All Members of the Commission, with the exception of Mr. Ojuko. should he contacted to immediately hand over to you the offices, official documentation and assets in their possession as we await responses from the authorities quoted above,” Mr Kabenge said.
“For clarity, Mr. Ojuko’s hand over should be deferred until the Solicitor General responds to our request for his opinion, although our considered view is that he cannot unilaterally constitute and exercise any of the powers of the Commission. Hopefully, the issue of either appointment of new Members or the Solicitor General’s opinion on this matter will be resolved as soon as possible. In the same vein Ms. Jane N. Ekapu, hitherto caretaking the Office of Secretary to the Commission, should also hand over to you. You will execute responsibilities of this Office until a new Commission is in place or advised otherwise. You may wish to temporarily re-assign some responsibilities to staff you have in post to facilitate smooth flow of business. Please do not hesitate to consult with myself, and/or with the Hon. Minister through my Office, on any matter that will help the uninterrupted running of the Commission’s business during this interim period,” he added.
The letter is copied to the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, All Ministers of State, MGLSD, the outgoing EOC Chairperson and Members, the Principal Private Secretary to the President, and the Solicitor General, among others.
Sources close to State House said the President is still consulting widely on whether to renew the contracts of the EOC officials and cannot be rushed since the law gives him leeway to either reappoint the three eligible commissioners or pick other qualified Ugandans to run EOC.
The expiry of the contracts of the commissioners, comes at the time when its chairperson, Ms Ntambi is battling corruption related charges before the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala.
They include; two counts of conspiracy to defraud government and corruption.
Prosecution contends that between July 2018 and April 2019 at EOC offices in Kampala, Ms Ntambi being the chairperson of the commission, neglected her duty of directing the affairs and administration of the commission thereby leading to gross mismanagement of the commission funds.