KAMPALA – I had wanted to write a follow up on Busingye Kabumba’s NBS discussion but now the withdrawal of the Petition has cropped and I have a few observations to make.
I have been upcountry for sometime without following media reports about the post election news, including the “Petition” before the Supreme Court” that among other things has generated vicious attacks against CJ Owiny Dollo and two other Justices on the basis of various alleged “Original Sins”.
Then I remembered the Swahili saying that “MWENDA SAFARI NDEFU HAFANYI UADUI NJIANI” (If you have a long journey don’t make enemies along the way) or “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”.
The Petitioner’s lead lawyer that will apply to the SC to withdraw the Petition is currently a salaried beneficiary of the Budget of a Respondent in the Petition and so is the Petitioner. It’s now fashionable to dismiss us old folks but in certain matters circumspection is advisable.
I knew CJ Owiny Dollo when he was an MP and Minister before the Multi Party era. I found him an independent balanced person and I am therefore surprised by the attacks against him. I would definitely be comfortable having my case go to a Court chaired by him.
However, I was surprised when the SC dismissed the two applications of the Petitioner, especially the last one. Everyone, except the uninitiated, knew the inevitable outcome of the Petition because the quantitative threshold of the evidential requirements are difficult to meet. Thus the SC was expected to exercise its discretion with extreme leniency. It was clear the Petition was filed before adequate evidence was assembled and thus caution should have been exercised by the SC in consideration of the two applications.
The Petition being primarily an inquiry possibly the SC could have got more evidence that would have helped arrive at eventual recommendations that could again be useful in improving the electoral laws in the country.
The announced reasons for withdrawal, for example, are not primarily directed at the SC but that public out there. So in consideration of the withdrawal application and costs to be awarded the SC may wish to take this opportunity to exercise the discretionary leniency it didn’t exercise earlier.
The author, Mr Augustine Ruzindana, is the former Inspector General of Government