UHRC JOBS: M7 STRIKES MAO’S DP AGAIN TAKING SHIFRAH LUKWAGO
By Mulengera Reporters
In November 2018, Gen Museveni desired to further cripple Norbert Mao’s DP by appointing their Deo Njoki (who was on the verge of winning by-elections to become the LC5 Chairman for Busia) to become one of the Commissioners at Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC). Predictably, there was social media backlash especially from other opposition parties who had pulled out their own candidates in favor of Njoki. That pressure frightened Mao and other DP leaders who prevailed on Njoki to decline the offer.
Almost 3 years later, Gen Museveni hasn’t given up his dream to leverage on the groceries available at UHRC to effect his fishing expedition on DP. This time round he has zeroed in on Shifrah Lukwago, a long-serving DP women leader who last year attempted to join Bobi Wine’s NUP seeking to be their flag bearer for Kawempe North. In 2016, Shifrah Lukwago (who looks like a half caste) stood for Kampala Woman MP Slot and gave both Nabillah Nagayi and Nakiwala Kiyingi a run for their money.
Besides politics, Shifrah Lukwago is a practicing lawyer in Kampala and has been active with public interest litigation cases always defending political activists in court including Dr. Kizza Besigye, the defiance doyen. “She is currently one of the big-name lawyers who are being vetted by both security and the Ministry of Justice at the instigation of the President. She is due to be appointed a Commissioner at UHRC. The others include George Bamugemereire and Fred Ruhindi,” says a source close to the appointing authority Insisting that having come under donor pressure, the man from Rwakitura will soon be ensuring the UHRC is fully constituted and adequately facilitated to do it’s work.
Whereas GB (husband to Justice Catherine Bamugemereire) was until recently the Deputy IGG (who even acted after Irene Mulyagonja quit), Ruhindi is former Attorney General and MP Nakawa Division. In the January 2021 elections, he stood for Nakawa East MP Seat only to lose to NUP’s Ronald Balimwezo. Emerging second, Ruhindi polled 11,720 votes against Balimwezo’s 31,263. FDC’s Mike Kabaziguruka, who was the incumbent, emerged 3rd with just 7,467 votes. The race had four others including DP’s Keeno Charles Ronny (438 votes).
The UHRC is currently struggling with backlog since the death (2 years ago) of Med Kaggwa who was their chairman. Whereas the Constitution requires a minimum of 4 Commissioners, it currently has only two namely NRM cadre Med Mulumba and old man Dr. Amooti Katebalire who lately hasn’t been regular at office. Amooti, who has been the Ag Chairman since Kaggwa’s death, stopped coming frequently when Mulumba and Dr. Patricia Achan Okiria (the other Commissioner who was recently named Deputy IGG) insisted that the Ag Chairpersonship becomes rotational so that they equally got their chance.
Even when the Constitution allows a minimum of 4 Commissioners, the practice has always been 7 Commissioners and this enables Gen Museveni to deepen his politics of patronage. And the fishing of Shifrah Lukwago will be some blow to the adherents of the opposition politics because she has been a veteran of the anti-Museveni struggle since her student days. She is among those older generation politicians who have come to the conclusion that it’s time to jump into bed with Gen Museveni and eat whatever is available to be eaten as you get pension while preparing something to leave for your children.
“We are in our 50s and the People Power wave is here for another 15-20 years and those guys aren’t going to give room to us to ever win any elective position again because their Principal is wary of experienced politicians yet we still have to make ends meet outside politics the way we have lived and practiced it for the last so many years. This makes entering government the only plausible option provided it’s in line with what one studied and is qualified for,” one of the Shifrah Lukwago generation politicians recently confided in Mulengera News.
And in her case, Shifrah Lukwago qualifies for the UHRC job because she is a lawyer with both qualifications and experience. “There isn’t much else she can currently do because politically she can’t be elected anymore and even private legal practice can’t be that lucrative for her because she is new in that space having spent much of her time serving as Councilor and Speaker KCCA. You can’t even fault her that much because as a lawyer, she qualifies for that UHRC job and actually doesn’t have to denounce her membership to DP,” says a source.
The UHRC job isn’t a bad start at all for the vastly experienced Shifrah Lukwago because it comes with significant perks including a chauffeur-driven VX vehicle besides the home guard and body guard to move around with. The salary is very okay netting at Shs11m per month besides another Shs6m given as housing allowance (this simply means she will be earning more than her former both and mentor Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago). There is also plenty of travel which isn’t bad for a high flier that the flamboyant Shifrah Lukwago is used to being.
And yet just like in the case of being MP, it’s almost free money because there isn’t that much worker to do in being a Commissioner at UHRC. Commissioners basically address regular press conferences, attend conferences within Uganda and abroad on top of getting assigned matters relating to human rights violation disputes in relation to which you write a simple decision/judgment in most cases awarding damages against the state. There is plenty of opportunity to be rang by the President requiring you to go slow on a matter or even asking you to represent Uganda at some international event. Commissioners also occasionally appear for media talk shows or even before the relevant committees of Parliament.
Yet Commissioner-level isn’t the only vacuum UHRC has been experiencing lately. Even at management level, there is no substantive PS because Patrick Mabiiho Nyakana who was serving as UHRC Secretary/Accounting Officer got interdicted to face some corruption inquiry that was orchestrated by DGF which is one of the many JLOS sector donors funding UHRC work. Margaret Ejang is currently serving as the Commission Secretary but in acting capacity.
Until Med Mulumba (a diehard NRM cadre) was posted to serve as a Commissioner, UHRC bosses used to earn peanuts but the ex-Luuka County MP used his connections in the ruling party, Parliament and Cabinet to lobby for improved terms and conditions of service. Victoria Rusoke, now Kabarole Woman MP and Minister of State Local Government, was equally at UHRC and complimented Mulumba’s lobbying efforts to have the Commissioners’ remuneration enhanced. Gratefully, Mulumba’s efforts were supported with enthusiasm by then Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Kahinda Otafiire who was their line Minister for Justice & Constitutional Affairs. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).