Uganda’s Parliament locks out Director of Communication over accumulated leave

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KAMPALA, Uganda

The director for communications and public affairs at parliament Chris Obore has been sent on forced leave. 

Jane Kibirige, the clerk of parliament wrote to Obore on Wednesday, noting that “I have been directed to inform you to take your accumulated leave with immediate effect.”

The letter was copied to the speaker Rebecca Kadaga, deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah, deputy clerk corporate affairs, Henry Waiswa, and deputy clerk and also the directors for human resource and finance. One of the sources, who preferred anonymity says that Kibirige also directed Obore that even when the 140 days of his accumulated leave elapse, he will only return to the office if he is called back by parliament.  

Kibirige also instructed Obore to hand over office to the deputy clerk corporate affairs, Henry Waiswa. Obore is said to have received the letter on Wednesday and forwarded it to his lawyers, Kampala Associated Advocates. 

On Thursday, Obore’s lawyers responded to Kibirige’s letter noting that the public service standing orders stipulate that a public servant must apply for leave within a given calendar year and failure to do so, he or she has to forfeit the days for leave not taken.    

The public service standing orders provide that leave cannot be accumulated from one calendar year to another unless the public officer’s request to carry forward the leave was approved.  The standing orders provide that a public officer must have submitted a request to carry forward annual leave to the relevant offices for approval by 15th December.      

In Obore’s case, the lawyers noted that this did not happen and therefore, it is illegal to send him on accumulated leave that he did not apply for by 15th December 2018. On Friday Obore found the locks of his office had been changed by officers attached to the Office of the Seargent–At-Arms. 

One of the lawyers at Kampala Associated Advocates, Jet John Tumwebaze said that he will respond to the matter on Saturday. Obore’s lawyers have also protested Kibirige’s decision amidst a pending petition in court. In April, the High court ruled that the termination of Obore’s contract should be halted until the main petition is disposed of.      

Obore’s troubles started in March this year when Kibirige notified Obore that the inspectorate of government had conducted investigations noting that his recruitment as the director communication and public affairs was founded on illegalities because it contravened the Parliamentary Service (Staff) Regulations, 2001.      

However, Obore through his lawyers, Kampala Associated Advocates applied for an injunction restraining the Parliamentary Commission from implementing the clerk’s decision to terminate his employment until the matter is determined.  Obore was recruited on August 19, 2015 by the Parliamentary Service.  

A nearly 3-year probe into the appointment of parliament’s director communications and public affairs, Chris Obore concluded early this year with the recommendation that the former Nation Media’s journalist be relieved of his duties. We retrace how Obore ended up in the job, that by all indications, did not possess the required qualifications for.

When the parliamentary commission sought to recruit a director of communications and public affairs in 2012, Hellen Nanteza Kaweesa, the current deputy director CPA was the sole applicant for the position. 

The Observer

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