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Education PS cautions Alupo on policy issues

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Ms Nassali (L), speaks to Ms Alupo at a function recently.  PHOTO BY faiswal kasirye

Ms Nassali (L), speaks to Ms Alupo at a function recently. PHOTO BY faiswal kasirye 

By CHRIS OBORE

Posted  Sunday, December 29  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Civil Service boss John Mitala was reportedly shocked at the developments, where a PS is seen giving directives to a minister.

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KAMPALA

A civil servant and politician; who is superior? The old question that has weighed down KCCA has now returned to haunt the Ministry of Education and Sports after the Permanent Secretary warned the minister never to make policy statements in public without clearance.

The PS, Ms Rose Nassali Lukwago, on December 4 wrote to minister Jessica Alupo admonishing her for making policy statements in the media and directed her to retract them.

Ms Nassali wrote: “In the recent past, you have been quoted in the media to have made the following two policy pronouncements: That primary schools which want to opt out of the UPE scheme will be free to do so”, and that “after the UNESCO study on the cost of education in Uganda, government was going to regulate the fees charged by private schools.”

According to the PS, Ms Alupo did not follow standard procedures and that her policy pronouncements had not been vetted. “The two policy standards you pronounced in the recent past did not go through the due process and are, therefore, null and void,” reads Ms Nassali’s letter.

The purpose of this letter, she wrote, is: “To caution you about making controversial processes (sic) to the public which have not been vetted by the relevant state authorities [MoES and Cabinet].”

It added: “In retrospect, this letter is to advise you to make a public retraction of the erroneous communication you made which media houses have propagated to the public.”
In the same letter copied to all ministers of State and the Head of Public Service, Ms Nassali said her position was the position of the ministry.

However, Ms Alupo commented on the same letter, a copy of which the Sunday Monitor has obtained that: “What you should do as a PS is use your PR office to correct the impression in the media.”

According to our investigations, after receiving the copy of the letter, the head of civil service, Mr John Mitala, was shocked by an apparent symbolic fall out between the Executive and the bureaucracy. He personally walked to Ms Nassali’s office with a copy of the letter and reportedly told her that “in my entire civil service career, I have never seen a permanent secretary write like this to a minister; it’s out of order”.

Apparently, Mr Mitala asked Ms Nassali to retract her letter and apologise to the minister reminding her that, however wrongly a minister has acted, a civil servant cannot assume superiority over an elected leader and a Cabinet member.

Attempts to reach Mr Mitala were unsuccessful. But on December 19, Ms Nassali wrote a vague apology to Ms Alupo saying: “I have been made to realise that the language I used was rather strong. Please excuse the language use[d] to communicate to you.”

On the same letter, Ms Alupo made a handwritten comment: “Madam PS learning is a continuous process.”

When we contacted Ms Nassali on Saturday, she declined to confirm or deny that she wrote to the minister. “Contact the minister and find out whether I wrote to her or not. You seem to have got your information from somewhere, go ahead and check it with whoever is telling you,” Ms Nassali told the Sunday Monitor.

Infighting at the ministry

The Sunday Monitor has learnt that intrigue and infighting is eating up the ministry. Ms Nassali has been accused of orchestrating vendetta against civil servants she perceives to have been closely working with former PS Francis Xavier Lubanga who caused her interdiction and demotion over alleged concealment of a felony and incompetence.

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