Attorney General quashes appointment of UNBS boss

Eng James Nkamwesiga Kasigwa. Photo | Courtesy of UNBS

What you need to know:

The deputy Attorney General says the appointment of Mr Kasigwa was done illegally

The Attorney General’s office has quashed the appointment of the new executive director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).

Mr Jackson Kafuuzi Karugaba, the Deputy Attorney General, said the 2013 Amendment of the UNBS Act states that the UNBS board recommends the best two candidates for the executive director position to the Trade minister. The minister then picks one of the two for the position.

However, Mr Kafuuzi said this procedure was not followed when Mr James Nkamwesiga Kasigwa was appointed UNBS executive director more than a month ago.

“…the 2013 Amendment of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act introduced a system of checks and balances in respect of the appointment of the executive director of the Bureau where the appointment has to be done by the minister on the recommendation of the Board. Instead of the minister choosing and or picking, the Board was introduced to do the selection of the best-suited persons based on satisfaction performance,” the June 19 legal opinion by Mr Kafuuzi reads in part.

It added: “It is our considered view that the replacement of Section 11 of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act, in the 2013 Amendment of the Act must have been intended to cure a given mischief. As a result, the recommendation of the Board is vital in the process of the appointment of the executive director. It is our considered view that any appointment that does not take into consideration the provisions of the law as amended is void and cannot stand.”

The office of the Attorney General has cautioned the minister to ensure strict adherence to the law when handling this matter.

Early last month, a petition was filed at the office of the Inspect General of Government (IGG), questioning the appointment of Mr Kasigwa as the new UNBS boss.

According to the petition, the newly appointed executive director was not among the best two candidates recommended by the Board to the Trade minister.

“Uganda National Bureau of Standards advertised for the position of the executive director. Consequent to the advertisement, six candidates were shortlisted for the interviews, and following the interviews, the national standards council recommended to the minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives the best two candidates for the appointment to the position of executive director pursuant to Section 11 of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act as amended,” the petition to the IGG read in part.

It added: “Despite the recommendation of the Board, the minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives has gone ahead and instead appointed a candidate who was not recommended. Our client contends that the appointment by the minister is illegal and contrary to the UNBS Act as he did not act in accordance with the recommendations of the board as required by the current law. It is, therefore, our humble request that you intervene and investigate the said illegal appointment.”

The overall summary of the combined results seen by this newspaper showed that Mr Kasigwa came in the third position in the interviews with an overall pass mark of 63.12 percent. This was confirmed in the legal opinion of the deputy Attorney General.

Mr Fortunate Muyambi Benda was the best candidate with 79.90 percent followed by Mr Apollo Segawa with 79.25 percent.

Mr Kasigwa, whose term of office started in early May, replaced Dr Livingstone Ebiru.

Dr Ebiru was relieved of his duties following his alleged involvement in corruption scandals at the institution.

His woes started when he appeared before the Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority, and State Enterprises (Cosase) and confessed to having bribed the UNBS Board with Shs100m to secure his stay at the institution.

However, he retracted the statement, claiming he said it out of anger.

By press time last evening, it was not clear whether Mr Kasigwa was leaving the office that he assumed over a month ago.

Efforts to get a comment from Trade minister Francis Mwebesa and Mr Kasigwa were futile by press time.