The Solicitor General has given the green light for the compensation of James Kigudde, the former Nakasongola District Service Commission Chairperson following the unlawful termination of his appointment.
Kigudde was appointed as Nakasongola District Service Commission chairperson on January 31, 2022. However, the district council revoked his appointment on the grounds that he had not resigned from his previous position as a representative of urban authorities on the same commission.
Despite the revocation of his appointment and the Chief Administrative Officer’s refusal to pay him, the District Executive declined to nominate his replacement, insisting that the council resolution was unlawful.
Now, in an October 10, 2023 letter to the Chief Administrative Officer, JBR Suuza, writing on behalf of the Solicitor General’s office, stated that when a member of the commission is elevated and accepts an appointment as chairperson, they cease to represent any other group, and the previous position automatically becomes vacant.
The Solicitor General added that the District Council could not revoke Kigudde’s appointment without valid grounds, as specified under section 54(4) of the Local Government Act, which includes inability to perform the functions of the office, incompetence, and misconduct.
He also clarified that the procedure for removing the Chairman of the DSC is the same as that of the district, as per section 14 of the Local Government Act.
“Accordingly, Kigudde is the lawful chairman of Nakasongola District Service Commission, and consequently, he is entitled to retainer payment from the date of appointment until the expiration of the tenure of the Nakasongola District Service Commission, in accordance with section 54(3) of the Local Government Act,” the letter reads.
He further clarified that Kigudde’s appointment expired with that of other members with whom he was initially appointed as a member representing urban councils before being elevated to the chairperson.
The four-year tenure of the commission ended in June 2023. The Solicitor General directed the CAO to calculate and pay Kigudde’s benefits as chairperson, deducting what he could have earned as a member.
Earlier, Kigudde wrote to the CAO, demanding Shillings 29.7 million as emoluments for the chairperson position, and threatened to take legal action against the district for his unlawful removal from office.
The intention to sue prompted the CAO to seek guidance on the payments from the Solicitor General. The District Chief Administrative Officer, Aggrey Muramira, stated that he had yet to read the response letter from the Solicitor General as he was still in transit from a trip abroad.
Sam Kigula, the LC 5 Chairman of Nakasongola, welcomed the guidance, stating that it would put an end to the conflicts that had hindered the commission’s composition and subsequently affected service delivery.
However, Kigula called on District Speaker Rogers Bwange Sande and other councilors to apologize to Nakasongola residents for obstructing the commission’s composition for years based on what has now been deemed unlawful reasons.
“The District is going to pay Kigudde for unlawfully rescinding his appointment but who will bear the costs of loss of service delivery and people who didn’t get jobs because DSC was non-functional?’’ Kigula questioned.
The Speaker, Rogers Bwanga Sande explained that the revocation of Kigudde’s appointment was based on the earlier guidance of the Solicitor General, and he expressed disappointment that the position has since changed.
Bwanga added that although he did not agree with the Solicitor General’s guidance, he had summoned councilors for an emergency council meeting on October 20 to receive the names of newly nominated commission members for discussion and approval to resolve the matter.
At least 364 positions in Nakasongola remain vacant after District councilors blocked Kigudde’s appointment as Chairperson. These vacancies include the District Production Officer, Natural Resources Officer, District Procurement Officer, health workers, teachers, and parish chiefs, among others.
Nakasongola has endured two financial years without the District Service Commission as the Council and Executive have quarreled over Kigudde’s appointment as chairperson.