Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Prosecutors under their umbrella, the Uganda Association of Prosecutors are considering a strike if the government does not fulfill its commitment to improve their working conditions.
The prosecutors said that the government is living them with no choice but to resume their sit down strike. They were speaking during a meeting with the new Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu held on Friday at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Batson Baguma, the president of the Uganda Association of Prosecutors said that since their inception, they have grappled with issues of stagnation in rank, poor and discriminatory pay, poor facilitation, excessive workload, and limited training opportunities among others, which have negatively affected their members.
Baguma added that they have over the years brought their concerns to the attention of the Ministry of Public Service, the Speaker of Parliament and the president but yielded no results.
“The government committed itself in writing to immediately meet our demands after which we agreed to end the strike,” Baguma said in reference to their 2017 industrial action.
He added that unfortunately, the government has up to now failed to honor its commitments to them. “We have never been told why the government did not honor its commitments to us. The quietness by the government has further aggravated our member’s discontent and could lead to another industrial action,” Baguma said.
The prosecutors say that they feel discriminated that their colleagues in other Justice Law and Order Sector units earn more money than them. They singled out lawyers at the Inspectorate of Government, Law Reform Commission, URSB, Electoral Commission, and the Judiciary among others.
The prosecutors also took a swipe at President Museveni who they say has continuously called them corrupt hence tarnishing their names among the public.
They said they don’t dispute the fact that there might be some corrupt prosecutors, but majority are grassing with very little pay. “Prosecutors take offence and are aggrieved by the continued attack on us by the very government which we diligently serve with great sacrifice. …Our view is that corruption cannot be fought by mere press statements but through engaging with stakeholders,” Baguma said.
In response, Kamuntu said he was eager to find solutions to the challenges facing prosecutors. He however said they should change the language in which they use to communicate their grievances.
“When we come to service delivery we must not be found wanting; we must do whatever it takes to ensure stability. All these agencies must see themselves as belonging to a whole. Money will never be enough, make do with whatever you have, don’t use the lack of money as an excuse for not doing nothing.” Kamuntu said.