Retired High Court Judge Patrick Tabaro has put off his gloves and decided to go live on Attorney General Kiwanuka Kiryowa who his lawyers have described as too conflicted to render any objective legal opinion on matters relating Makerere University whose Appointments Board he previously chaired.
Through his lawyers, KTA Advocates, Justice Tabaro, who served and retired from the bench with distinction, strongly protests his April 2023 ouster from being the Chairman of the Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal by faulting Kiryowa for not acting in good faith which in the process has pushed Makerere Governing Council into taking ultravires decisions.
The ouster of Tabaro, who had served with distinction since 2020, was justified by Kiryowa on grounds that he had exceeded 65 years which is the age at which people cease to be High Court Judges in Uganda. The AG’s advice, on which the Makerere Council based to oust Tabaro, was that the Universities & Other Tertiary Institutions Act which creates the Tribunal requires the Chairperson to be a person qualified to be a High Court Judge which Tabaro doesn’t qualify for because he is past 65 which is the retirement age.In the end, the Makerere University Governing Council terminated the services of Tabaro whose reign as Tribunal Chairman had rubbed the top management the wrong way because many of his decisions reversed or overturned dismissal of staff. In the process, the University was required to part with big sums of money paying damages to staff whose reinstatement would be ordered by Tabaro who now blames his woes on KK.
In a two page confidential letter authored by KTA Advocates and signed by Tabaro himself, Makerere Chancellor Prof Ezra Suruma is briefed as to why KK’s actions are illegal implying that the Governing Council shouldn’t be permitted acting based on such advice.
That, as Appointments Board Chairman, KK never had a good relationship with the Tribunal under Tabaro. That this animosity escalated on 6th July 2022 when a meeting of Appointments Board authorised the challenging of previous Tribunal decisions in the High Court. That the Director Legal Affairs was directed to coordinate a volunteer who would be facilitated and resourced to drag Tabaro and his entire Tribunal to Court.
Tabaro shares with Suruma minutes of the impugned Appointments Board meeting. That there would be delays to share or submit required documentation (e.g. record of proceedings) to the Tribunal at the time KK chaired the Appointments Board. The Tribunal is mandated to scrutinize and evaluate the conduct of business by the Appointments Board.
The Tabaro dossier reads in part: “Having presided over the Appointments Board, he (AG) now stands biased and conflicted.” That it’s now hard for KK to objectively intervene or advise on any Makerere matters without being perceived as “prejudiced and subjective.” Tabaro likens all this to a party seeking to be “permitted to benefit from his or her own mistakes.”
The unusually very belligerent Tabaro further likens KK’s actions (advising his ouster) to “a party who abolishes a Court because they are dissatisfied with its decisions.” That the right course to pursue would be appealing against the unpleasant decisions in the Higher Court as opposed to just abolishing the entire Court.
“What we have now is an absurdity,” Mzee Tabaro asserts coming off as being unusually very combative. Tabaro says that instead of being harangued, he deserves commendation because of the calm that has prevailed in the last four years at Makerere largely because the aggrieved staff had found confidence in the way his Tribunal went about its work.
Not done, Tabaro (whose mistreatment and humiliation has since been vigorously objected to by academic staff members operating under MUASA) also explains to Ezra Suruma why the circumstances of his ouster were ultravires. That the Lorna Magara-led Governing Council has no powers to suspend or even dismiss him because only Chancellor can dismiss him because he is, by law, his only appointing authority.
He also disputes the circumstances under which KK (the AG) came to be the one to be consulted by Makerere for a legal opinion on his suitability as Tribunal Chairman since the same is the mandate of the Solicitor General and not anyone else. All in all, Ezra Suruma is being called upon to assert himself as the Chancellor and object to the Tabaro ouster from his position as Chairman for Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal.
Muasa Chairman Dr. Robert Kakuru says that as teaching staff, they are prepared to put up a spirited fight in favor of Tabaro who he says is merely being targeted by those who didn’t like the independence with which he has been going about his duties as the Chairman for the all-important Staff Appeals Tribunal.
Kakuru’s view corroborates the conclusion reached by Tabaro’s lawyers to the effect that neither the Governing Council nor management is acting in good faith in insisting on Tabaro’s humiliating ouster from the powerful office. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 041 4674611 or email us at email@example.com).