By Mulengera Reporters
This news website has established how Chief Justice Bart Katureebe unsuccessfully fought hard to keep Kagole Kivumbi around as Secretary (PS/Accounting Officer) to the Judiciary. In the end, Kagole fell because the forces against him were deeply interested in getting him out of the way. Katurebe appreciated him for being thick-skinned, incorruptible, firm and decisive when implementing assignments given to him as PS.
Being a well-groomed Catholic from Kyaggwe, Kagole was also obedient and respectful to authority. By and large, and going by what his predecessors had behaved like, Katurebe generally found no fault in Kagole over whose humiliation in PAC even the Auditor General John Muwanga has since apologized in writing.
In a confidential letter to Katurebe, Muwanga regrets that poor Kagole had to endure condemnation by MPs and media bashing over false claims that he had expended Shs436m on construction of a mere toilet for Entebbe Chief Magistrate. Muwanga regrets that this “was a typographical error and the correct amount spent for the [toilet] construction was Shs43,610,204.”
Muwanga says this was an inadvertent error over which he unequivocally apologizes for the inconvenience the Judiciary leadership has suffered. Mulengera News understands that Muwanga’s letter was preceded by a protest phone call Katurebe (renowned for his insistence on transparent methods of work) made to him.
It has now emerged Kivumbi’s forced leave was preceded by jocular protests by his superiors at the Finance Ministry as to why he was never available to have social evenings with them like some other accounting officers do. The veteran journalist doesn’t drink meaning he always returns home early. He is either at home, church or nowhere else. This made some characterize him as complex and hard to understand.
Apparently, Kagole’s troubles began when the President promised Shs23bn for the construction of a complex to house both Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. It was then that some powerful people determined there must be a more cooperative accounting officer by the time that money comes. Then came a proposal that Kagole (who has since narrated everything to the IGG) remains PS Judiciary without being the accounting officer. Sources close to the matter tell Mulengera News that Kagole resisted this mainly for two reasons.
Firstly, he argued that Judiciary being a unique situation there would be no work for a PS who isn’t an accounting officer because a bulk of the work is technical and exclusively doable by judicial officers which Kagole isn’t. Secondly, he demanded that Museveni (who he considers to be his mentor and godfather) be fully briefed of the decision to sideline him from accounting officer roles so that in future when anything goes wrong State House clearly knows the person the President should be angry against. On realizing the tide at the Finance Ministry was too strong for him, Kagole shared with CJ Bart Katurebe the pressure he was increasingly finding himself under.
Katureebe reached out to officials at Finance Ministry protesting having a PS who isn’t the accounting officer. He repeated the same argument that being PS without being accounting officer in a setting like judiciary would make any office holder (not just Kagole) lame duck and redundant.
That is how the move to transfer Aggrey Winyi as Under Secretary and Accounting Officer for the Judiciary, that had previously been mooted by movers at Finance, flopped. Katurebe referred the matter to the President arguing that whereas he couldn’t do much to stop whoever wanted to go after Kagole Kivumbi, he wasn’t prepared to accept having a PS who isn’t accounting officer. It also emerged that at Internal Affairs where he worked before, Mr. Winyi had had queries raised into his performance of delicate duties. President Museveni agreed with Katurebe’s argument and that’s how Pius Bigirimana was considered as a perfect replacement for Kagole.
In all this Katurebe (who didn’t hide his disenchantment on the day Kagole handed over to Bigirimana) insisted “fine you want to move against this man [Kagole] but I find no fault in him.” He argued it was imprudent to punish the man basing on nothing like a concrete report faulting him of any wrongdoing. He was focused on the predicament Kivumbi had faced in PAC but the CJ said mere fact that one is being required to answer for certain things in PAC doesn’t amount to culpability for any wrong doing. “What are we basing to act against him? Simply because we are told there is an investigation PAC is undertaking?” The CJ warned interdicting the man in such unclear circumstances would only lead to one result and that is costly litigation against government under Judicial Review proceedings.
The President, who as always insisted on being furnished with hard facts before endorsing reprimand against any public official, saw Katurebe’s point and guided that instead of being interdicted as some were proposing, Kagole can be sent on forced leave to allow comprehensive inquiry to be undertaken into his conduct supervisors at finance considered improper. As CJ, Entebbe and Finance Ministry consulted, some wondered why someone senior from within the Judiciary team Kagole had been working with wouldn’t be designated to be serving in caretaking capacity as investigations continue.
Museveni guided that as a compromise position all that be ignored and instead Bigirimana, largely perceived as neutral in the row between CJ and Kagole on one hand and the Finance Ministry leadership on the other, takes charge. Kagole is largely accused of mischarging funds (Shs34bn; expending it on judiciary activities different from that for which it was appropriated) and also for effecting ineligible expenditures in relation to Shs3.393bn. The Internal Auditor General report (whose findings Kagole says was never given chance to have himself heard about)—on which PSST Keith Muhakanizi based to sanction the Judiciary PS—also hints on Shs76m spent under “doubtful expenditure,” Shs5.9bn expended without supporting documents and another Shs1.8bn which is marked as expenditure with missing vouchers. Basing on some of these queries, Muhakanizi on Wednesday 18th July wrote to CJ Katurebe informing him of Kagole’s ineligibility for retention as accounting officer for FY2019/20. In the interest of natural justice, Katurebe felt the man hadn’t been heard enough. (For comments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).