By Our Legal Reporters

Ugandan public officials  who breach the Leadership Code as provided for in the Leadership Act should be worried after the  five member – Leadership Code Tribunal has handed down its first major decision in which a senior government official has been found guilty for abuse of government property  and has subsequently been demoted. The  Ministry of Health official- James Tukahirwa  has also been ordered to pay damages to  government .

The members of the Leadership Code Tribunal are Dr. Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa  (Chairperson) Mr. Asuman Kiyingi (Deputy Chairperson ) Mr. Bakunzi Didas Mufasha Ms. Jane Okelowange and Ms. Joyce Nalunga (members .)

The Leadership Code Tribunal was appointed by President Yoweri Museveni in 2020 on recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission and approval of Parliament to enforce the Leadership  Code of Conduct .

This latest decision was made in the Leadership Code matter of  Inspectorate of Government (IGG) versus James TuKahirwa who was a Senior  Assistant Secretary/ Transport Officer at the Ministry of Health .

Tukahirwa was accused of breaching the Leadership Code of Conduct under section 12b of the Leadership Act when he deployed  two ministry vehicles for his personal use during the Covid-19 national response .  In his defense Tukahirwa had stated that he thought the vehicles were meant for the welfare scheme of the Ministry of Health and thus used them to transport his building and construction materials to his private sites in Kyegegwa ,Kazo, Ntungamo district and Munyonyo in Kampala.

The said vehicles and a sum of 28M were seized from the accused person by the IGG and he accepted that he had breached the Leadership Code Act and was willing to pay back Shs. 22M. The issue then for determination by the Leadership Code Tribunal was what kind of punishment to hand-down to Tukahirwa.

In their judgement the members of Leadership Tribunal noted that the Tribunal is a creation of the national constitution and the Leadership Act and is meant to enforce the provisions of the law to make government and other public officials accountable to the people they are supposed to server .

“The leadership Code stipulated the minimum standards of conduct and behaviour by all public leaders and public officers .Establishment and operationalization of the Tribunal is a culmination of decades long protracted process and struggle by Ugandan citizens to hold public officers accountable . As the inaugural Tribunal we are alive to this important national responsibility and public expectation.

“We shall be fair and just but be firm in punishing breaches of the Code as stipulated in the law .We strongly believe that this is what is required to send a very clear message to all, that public offices and assets are a trust from the people and should be used to render required services to the public as authorized under the law and not for personal gain,” the Tribunal members stated.

They noted that although Tukahirwa had note wasted the Tribunal’s time by accepting the breach and willing to make good for the misuse of public assets , he was ordered to pay back Ug.shs.22M plus damages and also be demoted . Tukahirwa  had worked in public service for 32 years .

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