The Gender ministry has advised senior officials at the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to hand over office as they await for President Museveni’s decision regarding the renewal of their contracts that expired last month.
Mr Aggrey Kibenge, the permanent secretary at the ministry, in a February 19 letter, ordered the commissioners to hand over the offices to the under-secretary/finance and administration with the exception of Mr Joel Cox Ojuko.
“You may recall that following the letter by the outgoing EOC chairperson, Ms Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi of January 19, 2021, the handover earlier planned for February 5, 2021, was deferred. This was to enable the minister of Gender to consult with the Attorney General on whether it is administratively possible for him to temporarily extend the commission’s tenure up to when the President appoints a new commission,” Mr Kibenge wrote to the commission’s under-secretary.
“All members of the commission with the exception of Mr Ojuko, should be contacted to immediately hand over to you the offices, official documentation and assets in their possession as we await responses from the quoted authorities,” he added.
Commissioner Ojuko’s handover has been deferred on grounds that his contract expires on July 8.
Mr Kibenge advised that Mr Ojuko can still remain and execute his duties as the vice chairperson of the commission.
Mr Museveni, in his capacity as the appointing authority, has not yet renewed their contracts. Earlier, sources told Daily Monitor that he is still consulting on the matter.
Mr Kibenge further ordered that Ms Jane N Ekapu, the assistant commissioner for equity and rights, who was caretaking the office of the secretary to the commission, also hands over office since her contract expires this Friday.
“You will execute responsibilities of this office until a new commission is in place or advised otherwise. You may wish to temporarily re-assign some responsibilities to staff you have in post to facilitate smooth flow of business,” Mr Kibenge further wrote to the under-secretary.
He added: “Please do not hesitate to consult with myself or with the minister through my office on any matter that will help the un-interrupted running of the commission’s business during this interim period.”
The contracts for the EOC commissioners expired on January 25 but the President has not communicated his decision to the relevant authorities, almost two months later.
The commissioners whose contracts expired last month are Ms Sylvia Ntambi (outgoing chairperson), Mr Patrobas Sirabo Wafula, Ms Zaminah Malole and Mr Dennis Nduhura.
However, three commissioners, including Ms Ntambi are, eligible for reappointment since they have only served one term.
The expiry of the contracts of the commissioners comes at the time when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), has dropped several corruption related charges that had been slapped against Ms Ntambi before the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala.
The commission is also facing challenges of having nine of its staff criminally indicted before the Anti-Corruption Court. Mr Kibenge said they are exploring the option of requesting the Public Service ministry to authorise contracts for retiring officers up to either when a new commission is appointed or when the case against the interdicted officers is concluded.