Uganda Wildlife Authority court case bounces


(eTN) – The scheduled hearing of a case filed by the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and several of his colleagues, to reverse what they termed “illegal” suspensions and dismissal by a “board gone wild” was literally “bounced” yesterday, when it emerged that a required affidavit by Tourism Minister Kahinda Otafiire had not been obtained and submitted to the court, a legal requirement as he had to file a formal defense against the allegations made by the applicants. Failure to submit a defense normally leads to the applicants being awarded the case without much further ado, and the minister now has only a couple of days left to comply with the court’s requirements or else risk losing the case.

The same court two weeks ago, granted the applicants, Mapesa, and co-applicants, a full injunction against the board, returning them effectively to office and preventing the board from interfering with, among other issues, the bank accounts of the organization. Yet, it is the latter which seems to have been ignored according to some media reports, and this will undoubtedly be raised by the applicant’s legal teams when the case does eventually go ahead.
At the time when the injunction was granted by court, both the minister and the chairman of UWA had also ignored parliamentary summons to appear before a committee and answer a range of questions over their recent actions, and parliament was then adjourned to allow members to return to their constituencies and campaign for party primary elections and prepare for the NRM’s national conference.

The absence of the affidavit by the minister does not come as a surprise, as Mr. Otafiire was reportedly busy over the past weeks to campaign for the office of NRM party secretary general, where he had vowed to unseat the incumbent, fellow cabinet minister for security Hon. Amana Mbabazi. This attempt, however, ended in miserable failure over the weekend, when the minister was soundly beaten, as was, in fact, the vice president, too, who had to the surprise of many his eyes on the office of secretary general. Hon Mbabazi trounced his opponents by a very wide margin of votes, and time will now tell how the other candidates, especially the tourism minister, will be able to shape their political future after being so rejected by their own party. It was learned that as soon as the sworn affidavit was obtained, the case hearing would resume.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on parliament, which is expected to resume sittings this week, and the parliamentary committee on tourism, which is expected to renew summons to the minister and chairman to appear before them and face questions over their actions on UWA and their leading staff members.