Saturday April 5 2014

KCCA saga: Judges should not mediate

By Editorial

Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has offered to mediate between the warring political sides in the Kampala City Council Authority impeachment saga because, according to him, the unending litigation and political posturing is tarnishing the image of both the Judiciary and the Executive, and in the process depriving the people of Kampala city much needed services.

Justice Bamwine’s indignation is understandable in light of the political ping-pong the city has witnessed over the last three years which has now reached the point of ridiculousness with Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago trying to assert (lately recover) his authority on the one hand and city Executive Director Jennifer Musisi attempts to exert her authority on the other.

Politics and the law have been blamed for the impasse. Neither the opposition, nor the government (read ruling party) are giving up an inch in their quest to control the city, and the KCCA Act created a lot of ambiguities that each side has something to latch on, however unclear, to claim that the law is in their favour.

In circumstances like this, the courts of judicature become the natural arbiter but in the past when the matter of who is the head of KCCA was brought before the judges, they dithered and gave an ambiguous ruling that was neither here nor there. The court instead rules that the KCCA Act is clear and the two parties should go back, read it again and apportion duties to themselves.

If perhaps the courts had ruled emphatically then, the country – and the city – might have been spared the shenanigans we are witnessing today between the Attorney General, the Lord Mayor and the judges. But all is not lost and the courts have an opportunity to say no to political pressures and handle the current cases before it purely on the basis of the written law and the law of natural justice.

Otherwise, the idea that judges mediate between warring politicians, as the Principal Judge is offering, would be a grave mistake that would hurt the judiciary irreparably, and undermine justice and the rule of law in the country.