Ssematimba loses Busiro county seat over inadequate academic papers

Friday June 10 2016

Mr Simon Peter Ssematimba

Mr Simon Peter Ssematimba 

By Juliet Kigongo

Busiro South constituency MP-elect Peter Ssematimba has lost his seat after the High Court on Friday declared it vacant.
This followed a petition filed by Democratic Party’s Stephen Ssekigozi, who contested against Mr Ssematimba of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) for the Busiro South parliamentary seat and lost.

According to Court, National Council for Higher education did not verify Mr Ssematimba’s academic papers.
While testifying in court, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) executive director, Prof John Asibo, said Mr Ssematimba has an Ordinary Level certificate from Kings College Buddo, a pre-medicine transcript from Asuza Pacific University and a diploma in electrical and computer technology from Pacific Coast Technical Institute, both in the United States of America.

Prof Asibo said on the basis of these qualifications, the council granted a certificate of Advanced Level equivalent to enable Mr Ssematimba participate in the Busiro South Constituency parliamentary elections.
He, however, said the council did not verify the authenticity of Mr Ssematimba’s diploma in Electronic and Computer Technology from Pacific Technical Institute in the United States before relying on it to grant him a certificate of A-Level equivalent last year.
Court also heard that the council has no proof that Mr Ssematimba attended the said university and obtained the diploma certificate.

Prof Asibo told court that the error on his Advanced Diploma in Technology from the International College of Excellency 2009 did not touch on the authority of Mr Sematimba’s award.
“Ssematimba’s certificate of equivalence shows that the council considered three academic qualifications yet when printing out, it indicated four qualifications,” he explained.
The witness maintained that the fourth qualification was not considered because it was a transcript upon which Mr Sematimba was admitted to Asuza Pacific University.

However, Mr Ssematimba had told court that his academic papers have security features to prove that they are authentic.
“The Asuza transcript has a golden background with the name of the institution printed across,” he said.
Court also heard that Pacific Coast Technical Institute from where he (Ssematimba) received a diploma in Electrical and Computer Technology closed and the only proof that he attended is a photograph he brought before court wearing a graduation gown.

Mr Ssematimba was also tasked to explain why he never submitted to NICHE his Christian degree of advanced diploma in Theology for evaluation yet he used it for nomination.
“People did not understand it,” he said.
The case
Mr Sekigozi, in his petition filed in court, says Mr Ssematimba only holds a certificate issued by the East African Examinations Council in 1978, which cannot be equated to an Advanced Level certificate, the minimum requirement for nomination in parliamentary elections. He also sued the Electoral Commission for allegedly conniving with Ssematimba to flout several sections relating to the Parliamentary Elections Act.