The Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka has warned Gender Labour and Social Development Minister Betty Amongi against relegating presidential directives and appointments by the president.
Counsel Kiryowa said once the president has directed or made an appointment, there is no need to question such orders especially by a minister.
This comes after Amongi rejected a presidential appointee in favour of her ‘relative’.
For starters, Amongi joined cabinet as minister after her party Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) entered a pact with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) after being fronted by her “friend’ who doubles as a party leader James Akena of one of the factions that make up UPC.
However, Amongi is trying to fit in the system she had opposed for half of her political life and in doing so she leaving no stone unturned. The latest is the clash between her and the appointing authority over allocation of jobs in one of the state authorities that are under her docket.
Eagle Online can reveal that early this year, President Museveni appointed Habiibu Sseruwagi as a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission and who was duly approved by the Parliamentary Appointments Committee which interfaced with him om March 14, 2022.
Following the approval by the Appointments Committee, the Principal Private Secretary to the President, Dr. Kenneth Omona wrote to Minister Amongi requesting her for a draft instrument in order to complete the appointment.
In letter dated April 27, 2022 which is seen by Eagle Online and titled request for a legal opinion on presidential appointments, the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka says “Following his (Sseruwagi) approval, the President, through his Principal Private Secretary, wrote to you requesting for a draft instrument in order to complete the appointment process. You declined and instead wrote back to the President contesting the appointment of Mr Habiibu Sseruwagi on ground that you had already nominated Andrew Oula.”
Sources say that Mr Oula is a blood brother of Amongi whom she was fronting to be a member of the board. However; AG Kiryowa has warned Amongi that she doesn’t have powers to question or refuse presidential appointees.
“In view of the above legal provisions, members of the Commission are appointed by H.E the President with the approval of Parliament. The general principle is that if a statute prescribes the procedure to be followed, that procedure must be observed. Therefore, a Minister does not have powers to refuse Presidential Appointees approved by Parliament. However, pursuant to Article 117 of the Constitution which provides that a Minister is individually accountable to the President for the administration of his or her Ministry, you may advise the President on any administrative matter”.
Kiryowa in his Legal Opinion says the law does not provide for nomination of members of the Equal Opportunities Commission by the Minister. He further says that the president is given board authority to choose his appointees provided the persons are of high moral character and proven integrity and process considerable experience in matters relating to the promotion of equal opportunities of human rights. He also warned that not following the strict provisions in the Equal Opportunities Commission Act would be subject to court review.
“Given that the Equal Opportunities Commission Act mandates the President to appoint members of the Commission with approval of Parliament, the rights and privileges applicable to the person appointed as a member of the Commission are determined pursuant to the Instrument of Appointment issued by the Appointing Authority. Therefore, upon receipt of a letter from the President requesting for an instrument of Appointment to complete the appointment process, the Minister is obliged to forward the instrument appropriately prepared in accordance with the provisions of the law establishing the Commission,” the AG wrote.
He further continued “Accordingly, in view of the above position of the law, I advise you to forward the Instrument of Appointment for Habiibu Sseruwagi to H.E The President as requested. I am also mindful that as a Minister, you are duty bound to advise the President and as such your advice should accompany the instruments.”