In a recent letter, the Solicitor General responded to Nakasongola District authorities’ inquiries regarding the two-year Service Commission standoff. The standoff, which has persisted since the appointment of Mr. James Kigudde as chairperson of the District Service Commission (DSC) on May 11, 2021, has led to a series of legal complications.
The appointment of Mr. Kigudde was initially met with approval by Nakasongola District Council. However, it was subsequently challenged by the Public Service Commission on the grounds that Mr. Kigudde had not resigned his position as a representative for the urban councils when he accepted the DSC chairperson appointment.
As a result of these developments, the district has been without a substantive District Service Commission for nearly two years, leading to a significant backlog in the recruitment of over 100 workers. To address this situation, the Solicitor General has advised that Nakasongola District must pay Mr. James Kigudde a sum of Shs29 million as his remuneration for the chairperson role he held for a brief period last year.
However, it is crucial to note that this payment does not automatically resolve the ongoing standoff or the issues related to recruitment.
The Solicitor General’s advice comes in response to a letter dated June 27, 2023, sent by Nakasongola District authorities. This letter sought guidance after Mr. Kigudde threatened legal action against the district for nonpayment of his remuneration as District Service Commission chairperson.
In his letter dated October 10, the Solicitor General’s representative, Mr. JBR Suuza, clarified the eligibility of Mr. Kigudde to serve as chairperson of the District Service Commission. According to Article 198(2) of the Constitution and Section 54(2) of the Local Government Act, a DSC should consist of a chairperson and members determined by the district council, with a four-year term.
The letter emphasized that the position of chairperson is distinct from that of the members. Therefore, when a serving member of a DSC is appointed chairperson, approved by the Public Service Commission, and accepts the appointment, they automatically cease to be a member representing any group, as mandated by the law. The previous position as a member becomes vacant by operation of law.
Furthermore, the letter clarified that once Mr. Kigudde became the chairperson through his appointment, the district council could not simply rescind his appointment. The Local Government Act outlines the specific procedures for the removal of a DSC member, which also apply to the DSC chairperson. These conditions include inability to perform duties due to physical or mental incapacity, misbehavior, misconduct, and incompetence.
The history of this dispute dates back to August 9, 2021, when the Secretary to the Public Service Commission addressed the reasons for declining to approve Mr. Kigudde’s appointment as DSC Chairperson for Nakasongola. The District Council acted on the differing correspondences it received, leading to the rescission of Mr. Kigudde’s appointment as Chairperson in June 2022.
The Nakasongola District Council has scheduled a meeting on October 20 to discuss the recent legal developments and determine a course of action. Mr. Sam Kigula, the Nakasongola District chairperson, highlighted the adverse impact of not having a substantive DSC, particularly on staffing, affecting positions such as teachers and overall service delivery within the district.