High Court dismisses application to block UNATU elections

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Kampala, Uganda | URN | The High Court in Kampala has dismissed with costs an application in which the former chairperson of Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) Kayunga branch, Andrew Kwete wanted to block elections of new leaders in the district.

Justice Musa Ssekaana dismissed the case on the basis that Kwete filed it late and knew that the elections he wanted to stop had already been conducted on May 17th 2021.

In 2021, Kwete sued UNATU and its Disciplinary Committee seeking a temporary injunction restraining the respondents and their agents from carrying out elections of new UNATU leaders in the Kayunga branch pending the determination of his main case in which he was challenging the legality of his suspension.

But in response to the case, Filbert Baguma, the General Secretary opposed the application arguing that Kwete had been suspended as a result of preliminary investigations into allegations of conducting himself in a manner prejudicial to the interests of UNATU which was contrary to the code of conduct of UNATU members.

Particularly, Baguma indicated that the investigations were arising from Kwete’s improper use of his position as the Chairperson of Kayunga district branch to enrich himself. Kwete reportedly did this by charging UNATU rent fees for an office in which the union was indirectly cost-sharing with his wife yet the union had been releasing funds to the district branch to rent suitable office space.

As such, UNATU asked the court to dismiss the application on the basis that the elections took place before the case was filed in court and therefore it was bad in law, irrelevant and overtaken by events.

In his decision, Ssekaana dismissed the case saying that Kwete did not challenge the submissions by UNATU to the effect that his case was overtaken by events and therefore, the court is restrained to determine matters that are moot.

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“The present application falls in the mootness doctrine which bars court from deciding moot cases; that is cases in which there is no longer any actual controversy. The exercise of judicial power depends upon existence of a case or controversy”, said Ssekaana.

He added that the function of a court of law is to decide an actual case and to right actual wrongs and not to exercise the mind by indulging in unrewarding academic casuistry or in pursuing the useless aim of battling with windfalls.

“The election the applicant intended to stop was already held even before he came to court, then it is useless to waste courts time in hearing this application. The doctrinal basis of mootness is that courts do not decide cases for academic purposes because court orders must have a practical effect and be capable of enforcement,” said Ssekaana.

He accordingly dismissed the case with costs.