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Eng Kasigwa’s appointment as UNBS ED illegal – Attorney General

Attorney General has said the appointment of Eng James Kaisgwa (above) as new Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is illegal (Photo/File)

Kampala, (UG):- The Office of the Attorney General has ruled the recent appointment of Eng James Nkamwesiga Kasigwa as the new executive director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) was illegal as he didn’t meet the required standards.

Eng Kasigwa was appointed the new UNBS boss by the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa with his term coming into full force effective May 13, 2024.

His appointment saw him replace Dr. David Livingstone Ebiru, who had served as ED from May 2021 to July 2023 before getting sacked last year over bribery claims.

However, Kasigwa saw a premature stay in his new office and role after a concerned citizen contested its legality on the grounds that the Trade Minister acted in contravention of the UNBS Act.

Through his lawyers, Wanambugo and Co. Advocates, George Ahimbisibwe petitioned the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Beti Kamya, and Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, asking them to investigate and cancel Kwasigwa’s appointment.

Ahimbisibwe contended that the newly appointed executive director was merely hand-picked by the Trade minister since he was not among the best two candidates that

“Uganda National Bureau of Standards advertised for the position of the executive director. Consequent to the advertisement, six candidates were shortlisted for the interviews, and following the interviews, the National Standards Council recommended to the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives the best two candidates for the appointment to the position of executive director pursuant to Section 11 of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act as amended,” the petition to the IGG read in part.

“Despite the recommendation of the board, the minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives has gone ahead and instead appointed a candidate who was not recommended. Our client contends that the appointment by the minister is illegal and contrary to the Unbs Act as he did not act in accordance with the recommendations of the board as required by the current law. It is, therefore, our humble request that you intervene and investigate the said illegal appointment,” it added.

Weeks later, the Attorney General’s office on Wednesday responded to the claims and directed that after a thorough review, it was discovered that the appointment of Kasigwa as the new ED of UNBS was indeed illegal and contravened with the bureau’s act.

In a letter dated, June 19, addressed to the Trade Minister and copied to the Attorney General, Solicitor General and his Deputy, Mr Kafuuzi Jackson Karugaba, the Deputy Attorney General revealed that Kasigwa according to the interview report received ranked third in performance, and yet the minister went ahead to give him the position at the expense of the first-ranked candidate.

“On 23rd May 2024, this office received a letter of reference IND/90/256/01, dated 23rd May 2024 from your office informing us that you appointed Eng. James N. Kasigwa to the position of Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, with effect from 13. May 2024. We have studied the report of the interview and note that the 09. National mended to you the best two candidates as highlighted in the report. Eng James N. Kasigwa was the 3rd candidate according to the interview report,” Mr Kafuuzi said in the letter, a copy of which this website has seen.

According to the Deputy AG, this means that there was no recommendation of James Nkamwesiga Kasigwa to the Minister because the recommendation was in regard to the best two candidates.

He explained that unlike the previous Section 11 of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act, Cap 327 which provided for the appointment of the Executive Director of the Bureau by the Minister, this ceased to be effective after the 2013 Amendment of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act.

The act introduced a system of checks and balances with respect to the appointment of the Executive Director of the Bureau, where the appointment has to be done by the Minister on the recommendation of the Board.

Instead of the Minister choosing and or picking, Kafuuzi says the Board was introduced to do the selection of the best-suited persons based on satisfactory performance.

“It is our considered view that the replacement of Section 11 of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act, Cap. 327 in the 2013 Amendment of the Act must have been intended to cure a given mischief. As a result, the recommendation of the Board is vital in the process of the appointment of the Executive Director. It is our considered view that any appointment that does not take into consideration the provisions of the law as amended is void and cannot stand,” the Deputy AG advised.

Prior to this appointment, Eng. Kasigwa had been serving as the Director of Science, Technology, Innovation, Regulation, and Biosafety at the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Uganda. He also served as the Commissioner for ICT Infrastructure Development at the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance.

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