Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court has ordered for the reinstatement of former Uganda Coffee Development Authority-UCDA Secretary Andrew Kilama Lajul.
Kilama in 2019 sued UCDA and its Director Dr Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira for unlawfully terminating his contract.
Kilama alleges that he was in 2014 employed by UCDA as the Board Secretary/ Head of Finance and Administration for 3 years ending September 30th 2017.
However, his job title was later on changed to Board Secretary/Director Corporate Services in August 2015 and in January 2017, his contract was also amended to five years ending September 30th 2019.
Court records indicate that his appointment was to be subjected to the renewal of a further term based on mutual agreement between the two parties subject to satisfactory performance basing on the established performance measurement system.
The evidence before the court shows that this process for assessment in the circumstances and evaluation of Kilama’s performance was based on “Performance Measurement System” in as far as the human resource manual of the authority is concerned.
However, Kilama alleges that he handed in his performance assessment forms for the years in question but Niyibigira did not comply with the manual timelines and he (Niyibigira) thus filled in marks without his involvement.
Justice Musa Ssekaana quashed the decision of UCDA citing that powers must not be abused and should not be exercised arbitrarily or dishonestly. He says that the actions of Niyibigira were illegal since it involved the improper exercise of power or abuse of discretion.
Ssekaana also ruled that for a valid decision to have been made, there ought to have been a minute of the proceedings to that effect which was not the case.
He issued an order declaring the decision of the respondents in terminating Kilama’s contract without a fair hearing as unjustified, unreasonable and against the principles of natural justice and were characterized by procedural irregularity.
Before ordering for his reinstatement, Ssekaana has also awarded him 10 million shillings to cater for the damages caused to him.
Kilama explains that on July 1st 2019, he wrote to the Chairman of the Board of Directors through Niyibigira expressing his desire to have his contract renewed after its expiry in September 2019.
The respondents are also alleged to have included other unnecessary issues, presentations and persons in the evaluation process and Kilama was in the end not offered a fair hearing by the board.
Kilama also contends that as the decision of the board was pending, he on October 1st 2019 received a letter dated September 30th 2019 signed by Niyibigira purportedly communicating a decision of the board.
This decision reportedly indicated that UCDA had made a decision not to renew his contract.
Kilama further alleges that he was subsequently driven out of office two days later and acting persons appointed in his two unlawful positions.
However, during the hearing of this matter, the Board through their lawyer Richard Adubango asked the court to dismiss the suit on grounds that the Authority had on September 2nd resolved not to renew Kilama’s contract at the end of the month.