Help us clean up the State - President Museveni appeals to Judiciary

MbararaHRDC Committee Memebers

President Yoweri Museveni said criminal political leaders are a disaster to the country and warned that idealists have been replaced by politicians using bribery and corruption to seek jobs rather than using their offices as a platform for strategy for direction.

The President made these remarks on October 23, 2015 during his interaction with nine of the 11 Justices he recently elevated to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Hon. Justice Cheborion Barishaki, one of the newly appointed Justices of the Court of Appeal, was also sworn in at the ceremony at State House in Entebbe.

The new Supreme Court Justices at the ceremony included Hon. Justice Augustine Nshimye, Hon. Lady Justice Faith Mwondha, Hon. Justice Rubby Aweri Opio, and Hon. Justice Eldad Mwangusya. Hon. Lady Justice Prof. Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza was absent at the swearing in ceremony.

Court of Appeal Justices present were Hon. Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Hon. Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama, Hon. Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, Hon. Lady Justice Hellen Obura and Hon. Lady Justice Elizabeth Musoke. Hon. Justice Paul Mugamba, who was also elevated from the High Court to the Court of Appeal, was absent, as he is set to be vetted by Parliament on October 29,2015.

President Museveni said bribery disenfranchises the people and interferes with their sovereignty, adding, that what the people of Uganda do not approve should not happen. He said: "The Judiciary is helping us in the battle to have criminal political leaders accountable. It is a disaster for the country! You are given money for constituency you steal it, and you are an honorable member in Parliament...how will the country move forward?

"With corruption, people of Uganda sell their birthright. If we don’t clean the political side, it will affect the army. We shall go back to square one. It is dangerous to our country,” he said.

The President urged the Judiciary to clean its side, and that the Executive and Parliament, the other two arms of the state, clean the political side.

 "We are struggling to make young people regain ideological aims rather than just mercenary aims and political careerism. They think politics is a job. You know what to do to clean up judiciary which will help us clean the other side,” he said.

"The NRM government has been fighting to democratize and de-criminalize the state among other issues like integration of Africa. We had moved very well on the political side and the side of the army. We were building a disciplined political class. But the political class is going backwards now, because idealists who were pushing NRM in earlier years have been replaced by careerists and job seekers. There is regression in that area – money, bribes etc making it quite a struggle. But I can assure you we shall defeat these traitors taking us backwards,” he said.

On the issue of the independence of Judiciary President Museveni said independence does not mean fragmentation…There must be coordination,” he said.

The Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Bart Katureebe, congratulated the Justices on their professional elevation.

He also congratulated Hon. Justice Cheborion Barishaki for his appointment to the Court of Appeal, describing him as one of the "better officers” he had during his reign as Attorney General.

"This achievement in the your professional career must be guarded jealously bearing in mind the need for Judges to observe at all times cardinal principals of impartiality, independence, diligence, equality and propriety which underpin successful career on the bench.

He castigated sentiments from corners of the public that it is wrong for the Judiciary to engage with the Executive. "We have a duty to keep knocking on the doors of the Executive and the Legislature because that is the way we can get the necessary tools to do our work as Judiciary,” he said.

Hon. Justice Katureebe said he was confident that with the coming of the new Justices to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, many pending matters will be handled. He said the 4,000 appeals in the Court of Appeal will soon be dealt with, and that the Court will soon start up-country sessions to offer speedy justice to the people.
 "We are committed to building confidence in the judicial system in this country,” he added.

He appealed to the President to appoint more Judges to the High Court, which he said is currently depleted – with only 45 Judges – following the recent elevation and retirement of some Judges.

Hon. Justice Katureebe said he is looking towards re-hiring some of the retired Judges willing to help clear the backlog in the courts. "We want the retired Judges to come in whenever there is need, and also to keep them active and respected,” he said.

The President said he supports the idea of Judges retiring with their full pay and full facilities. "I know that lawyers in private legal practice work a lot and equally earn a lot, but all we need to do for the judicial officers is to maintain stability in their earnings up to the end. Ideally, Judges should not regret why they ever joined the bench – making them regret will bring us bad luck,” he said.

"I am fully behind this arrangement. The last time I read the Constitution, it indicated that all executive powers were vested in the president – all these people including members of the cabinet are under my direction – so I don’t know who is going to be against this. I am fully convinced on this one.

Yes, you can utilize these Judges to solve a problem if they still have the capacity to do some work. They should come and help – like Mzee Odoki (former Chief Justice).”