KAARO KARUNGI | KAMPALA – The Constitutional Court has dismissed a petition in which Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago was, among others, challenging the powers of then Kampala Affairs Minister Frank Tumwebaze to form a tribunal that impeached him in 2013.
Mr Lukwago had accused Mr Tumwebaze of having participated in all processes, including chairing the meeting of the council that made the final decision on whether to impeach him or not. He had accused the minister of being the accuser, prosecutor and the judge in the same case.
But in a unanimous decision of five justices on Tuesday, the court held that the minister did not contravene the Constitution as the petition drafted to cause. Mr Lukwago’s impeachment from office went through proper legal channels. The justices went ahead and dismissed Mr Lukwago’s petition without condemning him to legal costs, reasoning that the petition he had brought to court was in public interest.
“I, therefore, find that the power conferred upon the minister under Section 79 (3) of the KCC Act is neither unfetted, unlimited, unguided nor subjective as the petitioner (Mr Lukwago) would have this court to believe,” ruled Justice Irene Mulyagonja, who wrote the lead judgment. She added: “In conclusion, this petition fails on all the grounds and it is hereby dismissed.
But because it was brought in public interest, I will make no order for costs.” The other justices who agreed with her were Fredrick Egonda-Ntende, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki and Muzamiru Kibeedi. In their analysis, the justices reasoned that to avoid bad faith by the minister and unfairly cause the impeachment of the Lord Mayor, Parliament deemed it fit to introduce an independent legal mind, the Attorney General, to advise the minister on any petition brought before him proposing to move a motion to remove the mayor.
They added that Section 12 (5) requires the minister to consult the Attorney General about the sufficiency of grounds levelled against either the mayor by the councillors before an impeachment motion can be moved. On November 25, 2013, Mr Lukwago was controversially impeached by majority of Kampala Capital City Authority councillors over alleged inappropriate conduct.
The move came after Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Tribunal instituted by then Kampala Minister Tumwebaze, to probe the mayor’s conduct that found him guilty of abuse of office, misconduct and incompetence.