Justice Mwondha admits receiving salary of a judge
Posted Tuesday, February 19 2013 at 02:00
The revelation. Ms Mwondha made the confession for the first time since she dragged this newspaper to court on defamation charges as she took the witnesses’ stand for the second time.
Former Inspector General of Government (IGG) Faith Mwondha, yesterday admitted taking the salary of a judge while she served as the government ombudsman, despite not performing any judicial functions at the time.
Ms Mwondha made the confession for the first time since she dragged this newspaper to court on defamation charges as she took the witnesses’ stand for the second time in as many days. “This was the government’s arrangement but not mine,” she said. However, the Daily Monitor’s lawyer, Mr James Nangwala, who was cross examining her, argued that the salary payments were not issued by the government initiative but the careful lobby of a technocrat at the IGG’s office, Mr Bageya Wasswa, the accounting officer, and some “corrupt” officials in the finance ministry.
Mr Nangwala said he found this newspaper’s reporting of the curious salary payments accurate and had brought to the fore Ms Mwondha’s involvement in alleged financial indiscretion, a comment the Judge protested. “They defamed me to the marrow and humiliated me,” Justice Mwondha told court.
The stories in contention ran on August 19, 2007 and August 26, 2007, respectively, raising questions over Justice Mwondha’s integrity after she sought leave of absence without pay from the Judiciary to take on the appointment of IGG, an office at the time that provided a higher pay. She was alleged to have later lobbied to be paid the salary of a judge after the government hiked the wages of judges even when she was not performing judicial functions.
There was commotion at court moments before proceedings kicked off as Justice Mwondha attacked a Daily Monitor photo-journalist, Mr Joseph Kiggundu, for taking her pictures without her consent. Justice Mwondha shouted at the journalist and accused this newspaper of harbouring a personal vendetta against her. It took the intervention of police constables attached to court to plead with the Judge to leave the journalist.
In the witness stand, Mr Nangwala pressed Justice Mwondha over her decision to snub a parliamentary vetting exercise as required by law. He said he was convinced a dossier written by a whistle- blower, Mr Justus Musimenta, raising serious issues about her conduct and integrity, among others, had left the Judge afraid of inquisition by Parliament.
Justice Mwondha said she declined to be vetted for re-appointment in 2009 “as a matter of principle.”
Court adjourned until March 1, with Ms Mwondha up for re-cross examination by her lawyer, Mr George Omunyokol.