Newly appointed members of the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) will have to wait longer to assume their offices following the withdrawal of their appointment letters pending guidance from the Attorney General.
In a September 12 letter to the eight-member team, Lands minister Betty Amongi stated that the letters were withdrawn for incorporation of a Cabinet directive in compliance with Attorney General’s (AG) advice.
“Subsequent to the issuing of the appointment letters, I received communication in line with a decision Cabinet took directing that all boards and commissions that had been earmarked for merger in the parent ministry and the term of office of its members has expired should be appointed basing on the advice from AG,” the letter reads in part.
Ms Amongi said at the time of issuing the letters, she had not received the AG’s advice.
“Subsequently, the AG’s opinion guided all ministries that all appointments should be as stipulated in the law with one month notice of termination clause,” she stated.
Ms Amongi asked the members to hand over their previous appointment letters to her office and wait for new ones.
The minister confirmed the development on Wednesday, saying Cabinet approved merging of several agencies and authorities to be mainstreamed in the parent ministries and that ULC is to be turned into a department in the Ministry of Lands.
“Subsequently, AG was directed by Cabinet to guide ministers on appointment of boards that fall under them. President Museveni directed all ministers to ensure that all laws within their jurisdiction which are affected by the rationalisation exercise are amended accordingly,” she said.
“With all directives, when AG guided on how to structure appointment letters, I received mine after issuing the appointment letters to ULC members. In the AG’s advice, when the ministers are appointing members of boards in their ministries which have been merged, they should put a termination clause indicating that their contracts shall be terminated with one month notice,” she added.
Ms Amongi said the move is to ensure that when the laws are amended and boards are merged to become a department, the contracts will be terminated immediately given the one month notice.
“I will issue the new letters with a clause for the members to accept the appointments in writing,” Ms Amongi said, adding that she would consult the AG on whether the members who had earlier assumed offices should stay in office pending issuance of new letters.
Efforts to get a comment from Ms Byenkya were futile as her known mobile telephone number was switched off.
Prof Nyeko confirmed knowing about the letter but could comment, saying that it is the minister who knows the next course of action.
Last year, Cabinet approved rationalisation of government agencies, commissions, authorities and public expenditure.