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Failure to renew practicing certificate cost Kafuuzi a cabinet post

FILE PHOTO: MP Jackson Kafuuzi

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The failure by Kyaka South MP Jackson Kafuuzi to renew his advocate’s certificate, the moment he joined parliament could have cost him, a position in Cabinet, URN has learnt.

Born in 1977, Kafuuzi had been appointed Deputy Attorney General in the changes made to the cabinet by president Yoweri Museveni in December. He was taking on a slot previously occupied by Mwesigwa Rukutana, now posted on the Ministry of Labor.

But Kafuuzi’s posting was questioned by the appointments committee of Parliament, on grounds that he did not have the requisite experience to take up the position. The Ugandan constitution says that a person shall not be qualified to be appointed Deputy Attorney-General unless he or she is qualified to practice as an advocate of the High Court and has practised or gained the necessary experience for not less than seven years.

During the vetting last week, Kafuuzi was tasked to prove that he has seven years of experience as an advocate of the High Court and whether he has handled any high profile cases in the courts.

Kafuuzi graduated with a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Makerere University in 2002 and obtained a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in 2003. From that time, he has been in service as a Legal Officer and later as an Advocate at Rwakafuuzi & Co. Advocates, until 2016 when he joined parliament.

However, Kafuuzi only acquired his first practising certificate in 2012 which allowed him to only practice as an advocate in the Magistrates Court. His second practising certificate was issued in October 2013, allowing him to start practice as a High Court advocate. Advocates certificates are renewed on an annual basis.

But Kafuuzi last renewed his certificate of practice on April 22, 2015, slightly over three years after enrolling as an advocate on January 18, 2012, according to the roll of advocates posted on the Judiciary Website http://judiciary.go.ug/data/ladvocates/

This means that if he had renewed his certificate annually even while in Parliament, he would be eligible for the position of Deputy Attorney General by October 2020, after hitting 7 years, as an advocate of the High Court. The High Court Experience begins to count upon receipt of the second certificate of practice.

There are also concerns that Kafuuzi does not have experience in handling major cases as an advocate.

“He is going to be Deputy Attorney General, the Chief Legal Counsel for government.  How can you litigate in the supreme court for government yet you have never done this before and you are meant to supervise more senior persons” A senior council told URN on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter at hand

When asked to comment on the same, Simon Peter Kinobe, the President of Uganda Law Society preferred to speak generally saying it’s a statutory requirement that one must be an advocate of the High Court for 7 years.

“So the question we need to ask; does he have these, if he does then he is qualified if he does not then we have a problem. We have these requirements, and that is the way we look at how qualified someone is. He is an advocate, but what I cannot confirm now is the number of years he has done.” Kinobe says.

He says the modalities of proving one’s experience starts when one is enrolled, and when one got a certificate for the Magistrates Court and that of the High court.

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