11 April 2019

Uganda: Court Halts Chris Obore's Sacking From Parliament

The High court in Kampala has issued a temporary order stopping the termination of an employment contract of Chris Obore as director of communication and public affairs at parliament.

The order was issued by Justice Henrietta Wolayo following a request filed by Obore to restrain the Parliamentary Commission from terminating his services, pending disposal of the main petition challenging the decision.

Obore ran to court to block his termination following a letter by the clerk to parliament Jane Kibirige indicating that his recruitment was based on an illegality.

But his lawyers, Kampala Associated Advocates argued that Obore was recruited through the rightful procedure, a process which involved headhunting and interacting with the Parliamentary Commission, which led to his eventual appointment on August 21, 2015.

However, the appointment was questioned by a whistleblower who indicated that Obore did not have the required qualifications for the job at the time of his appointment.

According to the job advert issued at the time of recruitment, the suitable candidate was expected to hold an degree in mass communication, communication studies, journalism, or arts with communication and public relations studied as subjects, from a recognized university plus a master's degree in a relevant field.

The applicant was also expected to have a working experience of 10 years, part of which was as a communication/public relations or information, protocol and public affairs department from a recognized institution or at the level of assistant commissioner in a government institution.

The whistleblower indicated that Obore did not have the minimum 10 years of service, as set by the Public Service Commission for the position and that he did not possess a master's degree as required by the Public Service Commission.

Prior to his appointment, Obore had been an investigative reporter with the Daily Monitor and only held a bachelor's degree in mass communication, obtained from Islamic University in Uganda. He completed a master's degree in public policy and governance last year at the Uganda Management Institute (UMI).

A systematic investigation by the Inspectorate of Government established that the appointment was based on illegality and that it was in contravention of the parliamentary service regulations. On the basis of the letter, the clerk to parliament instructed a review of Obore's employment with parliament. But Obore ran to court challenging the process.

However, the Parliamentary Commission lawyer Sitina Cherotich told the court that they needed more time to file an affidavit responding to the main petition filed by Obore.

Accordingly, Justice Wolayo adjourned the matter to April 17, 2019, and extended an interim order restraining parliament from terminating Obore's job until that day.


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