HOT SEAT: IGG Irene Mulyagonja

Frustrated by the increasing cases of syndicated corruption and in fights at the Inspectorate of Government, IGG Justice Irene Mulyagonja has applied for a job at the Judicial Service Commission as judge of the Constitutional Court.

Justice Mulyagonja is among the 24 applicants that have been shortlisted for vacant positions on the panel of the Constitutional Court.

The Court of Appeal of Uganda also known as the Constitutional Court of Uganda is the second-highest judicial organ in Uganda. It derives its powers from Article 134 of the 1995 Constitution. It is an appellate court when hearing cases appealed from the High Court of Uganda. However, it has original jurisdiction when adjudicating matters relating to the constitutionality of matters before it. All judgments by the Court of Appeal are theoretically appealable to the Supreme Court of Uganda, if the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal
Justice Mulyagonja was appointed on April 12, 2012 from the High Court where she served as the judge.

She has served for seven years and she replaced Raphael Baku who stepped in as acting Inspector General of Government after the Justice Faith Mwondha refused to appear before Members of Parliament for vetting and thereafter she resigned and reverted back to the judiciary for redeployment.

Recently junior workers at her office wrote to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, crying of corruption, impunity and maladministration taking place at the IGG that is supposed to fight corruption in public offices, saying that the institution requires a new leadership at the helm.
A group of disgruntled staff at IGG on March 3, 2019 wrote to the Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit Lt Col. Edith Nakalema, calling on her office to intervene and save the situation at the IGG’s office. “We write in good faith, and pray that your good office shall take action on that matter,” the letter reads in part.

They accuse the Secretary to the Inspectorate Rose N. Nakafeero together with members of the board and the management team for handpicking and interviewing people and that are yet to issue new appointments to new inspectorate officers without following the normal recruitment procedure set by the Internal Human Resource Policy of 2017 or the Public Service Standing Orders 2010.
The claim some officials at the IGG’s office are receiving bribery of Shs350 million for people whose cases are not registered with the inspectorate. They want President Museveni to disband the management team lead by Mariam F. Wangadya.

In response to the allegations, Justice Mulyagonja told Eagle Online that what her staff ought to understand is the fact that the budget allocation to the institution isn’t sufficient to have all salaries increased. On other allegations, Mulyagonja dismissed them as untrue.

“Actually it is members of who staff and their main concern that we don’t listen to them is untrue. However, they do not know the environment we are operating in because everything rotates on the budget allocation given to us. For other issues in their letter are baseless only intended to grab attention” Justice Mulyagonja told Eagle Online in a telephone interview.

The junior staff accuse top managers at the Inspectorate for taking long to confirm their colleagues who were posted to upcountry as Regional Inspectorate Officers or Principal Inspectorate Officers in various regional offices such as Fort Portal, Gulu, Lira, Arua, Moyo, Tororo and Hoima. The officers, according to the petitioners were posted about three years ago on the promise that they would be confirmed in six months but this has not happened.

Sources within the inspectorate further say the IGG is frustrated by the mere fact that another unit was created to do exact work like the Inspectorate does and so, she feels she has no docket to supervise given that Col. Nakalema seem to be better facilitated than the Inspectorate.
President Museveni recent during the 9th Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa held at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa, Kigo. said he didn’t appoint Col. Nakalema to fight the Inspector General of Government but rather help her fight corruption where she had failed.

Museveni said State House ant-corruption team led by Col. Nakalema is not meant to take away the work of the IGG or make it useless, “I appointed it to complement the IGG.”
Adding “When people start complaining of a watchman, then you have to hire a watchman to watch over that watchman and that is why I started and setup units in President’s office to watch over the IGG”.

He noted that it is critical to work with the victims of corruption, in the fight against it to enable them demand for accountability. The victims need to be able to rally support from society to pinpoint and call out corrupt officials.

At the same time, Mr Museveni used to occasion to introduce Col. Nakalema to the audience.
IGG is also accused for not being assertive on many top government officials implicated on corruption like her predecessor Justice Mwondha was. She has been accused of failure to release reports on top Bank of Uganda individuals that were involved in the sale of banks.