Court summons foreign affairs official over resignation of Uganda’s Ambassador to Kenya

resignation of Uganda’s Ambassador to Kenya
Uganda’s former Ambassador to Kenya Phibby Owere Otaala together with her supporters at the High Court in Kampala. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The High Court in Kampala has summoned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Commissioner for Human Resource Mark Sseremba for cross-examination over the resignation of Uganda’s former Ambassador to Kenya.

Sseremba was summoned by the Civil Division Judge Esta Nambayo following a request by former Uganda’s Ambassador to Kenya Phibby Awere Otaala who petitioned the court.

Otaala says that the documents showing that she had resigned from her position were allegedly forged.

On March 10th 2021, Otaala petitioned the court seeking to recover 102,657 dollars (362.6 Million Shillings) and Kenya shillings 757,500 (24 million Uganda shillings) as unpaid allowances during her employment in Kenya. This was between May 2017 and 2020 when she was still working as Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary to Kenya where she replaced Ambassador Angelina Wapakhabulo.

The evidence in court shows says that during Otaala’s employment in May 2019, she was involved in an accident that nearly took her life but she used her own money to pay for treatment and the money was never refunded as well as other allowances. These included allowances for the education of her four children, air tickets, car repairs, climate clothing, salaries for cooks, disturbance allowances, foreign service and representation allowances among others.

Otaala added that on August 25th 2020, she received a letter from Patrick Muhereza purported to be Permanent Secretary Ministry of Public Service alleging that she had resigned as an Ambassador/Foreign Service Officer Grade one dated July 6, 2020, which was not true.

Otaala protested and petitioned the court saying she has never resigned from her job.

However, when the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday 18, May 2021, Otaala’s lawyers led by Peter Nagemi asked to cross-examine Sseremba over his affidavit.

In his affidavit, Sseremba states that in June 2020, Otaala conveyed her intention to contest for the seat of Woman MP Tororo and the appointing authority President Yoweri Museveni received her letter.

Accordingly, Otaala reportedly resigned from her position as an Ambassador to participate in elective politics in line with the law and other directives from the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed to all Heads of Mission.

The Permanent Secretary had asked all public officers intending to contest in parliamentary elections to adhere to deadlines indicated by the Electoral Commission to resign by 12th July 2020.

“That in the said resignation letter, the applicant categorically stated that she was not seeking renewal of her contract and hence her resignation to enable her to fit in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and Electoral Commission (EC) Road Map,” reads the affidavit in part.

Evidence shows that after that resignation, the Ministry of Public Service in a letter dated August 25th 2020 accepted Otaala’s resignation and thereafter she was nominated and contested in the Tororo Woman MP seat in NRM Primaries.

Otaala was asked to hand over office on August 26, 2020, but she refused despite all her entitlements being paid including a shipment allowance of 10,000 dollars.

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“The applicant’s contention that she did not resign is completely mis-founded and devoid of merit. But in any event, the applicant’s contract of employment had expired and was not renewed by government,” adds the affidavit.

Otaala’s lawyer asked the court to summon Sseremba for cross-examination and he brings the original resignation letter, narrates who gave him the resignation letter and details of the bank account where the money was deposited among others.

The State Attorney Jeffrey Atwiine had objected to the request but Justice Esta Nambayo overruled him and summoned Sseremba to show up in court on June 1, 2021.

Otaala was replaced by the former NRM Finance and Administration Director Dr Hassan Galiwango.