Uganda: Magistrate Paid for One Year Without Working

13 January 2020

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has summoned a Grade One Magistrate to explain why he continued earning salary and allowances for a year yet he had abandoned work for other duties outside the Judiciary.

The magistrate is expected to face the JSC search and recruitment committee on January 17.

"This follows a submission we received from the chambers of the Chief Registrar on the said magistrate's abandonment of duty," a source told Daily Monitor at the weekend.

According to sources within the Judiciary, the magistrate was appointed about a year ago and posted to a chief magistrate's court in eastern Uganda.

The sources say he reported to the court once but did not remain there. Instead, sources say, he joined a commission of inquiry without first seeking and obtaining leave from the chief registrar, his supervisor.

It's alleged that since his name had been entered onto the pay roll, he was being paid salary for all this time yet he had not been working at the court.

It was discovered last year when magistrates protested that their monthly allowances had been reduced. The magistrate was reportedly among those who complained about the cut, which alerted the Judiciary that he had not been working.

"The red flag was raised after he made a lot of noise on one of the social media forums for magistrates. That is when the outgoing Chief Registrar (now High Court judge Esta Nambayo) discovered that he was not working yet he was earning a salary," the source said on Friday.

Section 39 of the Public Service Standing Orders states that if a civil servant absconds from duty for 30 days, he or she should be struck off the payroll.

"In the absence of communication from the officer and failure to resume duty within 30 days, the officer shall be deemed to have abandoned duty. The responsible officer shall stop the salary immediately and submit to the appointing authority for a formal directive of his or her removal from the Public Service on abandonment of duty," reads in part Section 19 of the Public Service Standing Orders.

Efforts to reach the magistrate on the matter were futile as his mobile phone contacts were switched off by press time yesterday.

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