In a recent development, the embattled chairperson of the National Standards Council, Charles Musekuura, received a reprieve when the Civil Division of the High Court issued an order to temporarily halt his suspension from office. Justice Musa Ssekaana, the head of the civil court, issued this order on October 23, 2023.
The court order, dated October 24, states, “It is hereby ordered that in the interim, the court stops any implementation or effecting the orders under challenge until the determination of the application for interim on November 1, 2023, at 12:30 pm.” This ruling effectively suspends any actions taken against Musekuura pending a further court decision.
Musekuura is legally represented by Saad Sseninde and Joachim Ssenkatuuka, while state attorneys Allan Mukama and Saheed Kiwanuka represent the Attorney General, who is the respondent in this case.
The suspension of Musekuura from his role as chairperson was initiated by the Trade Minister, Francis Mwebesa, in a letter dated October 11, 2023. In this letter, Mwebesa instructed Musekuura to hand over his office to Eng. James Kalibbala to serve in an acting capacity, though no reasons were provided for this action.
Musekuura’s legal argument rests on the absence of legal provisions for an acting chairperson and the belief that the law anticipates the council’s chairperson cannot be dismissed without due process. Furthermore, Musekuura contends that he was not granted a fair hearing by the Minister, who did not provide any grounds for the suspension.
The National Standards Council oversees the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and falls under the purview of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives.
In a broader context, Musekuura’s suspension occurred shortly after the same Minister suspended the UNBS executive director, Livingstone Ebiru. This suspension came after Ebiru admitted to a parliamentary committee that he had offered a bribe of UGX 100 million through an intermediary to Musekuura to retain his position.
During the proceedings of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE), Musekuura accused members of the UNBS of corruption and obstructing the council’s operations, while Ebiru accused Musekuura of being a spy.
On July 26, 2023, Ebiru was charged with corruption in the Anti-Corruption court. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 10 years. The prosecution alleges that between October 2022 and December 2022, Ebiru, as the executive director of UNBS, corruptly offered Musekuura a gratification of UGX 100 million to influence his job retention. The case is currently awaiting trial.