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IGG Mulyagonja Defies COVID-19 Prevention Rules, Convenes Conferences in Hotels

The outgoing Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja, is organizing conferences attended by hundreds of staff despite calls by the president and Health Ministry to avoid social gatherings to prevent further spread of Coronavirus.

Following the announcement of a lockdown to contain COVID-19, Mulyagonja pleaded with Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda for “partial reopening” of the institution, arguing that the Inspectorate’s roles were an “essential service” to Uganda.

Interestingly, the “essential service” turned out to be meetings of the board, management staff trainings at Golf Course and Mestil Hotels.

Mulyagonja was not readily available for comment on Tuesday morning when we posted this article.

However, it is understood the Inspectorate is hiding under restructuring – an activity which is not an emergency, to convene the large meetings.

“The real motive behind this is to purge out staff Mulyagonja does not trust and entrench those she likes so as to continue pulling strings even after departure,” said an official who preferred anonymity to speak freely.

Defying the law 

According to a June 5 circular issued by the Public Service Commission on the post-lockdown standard operating procedures for office operations, “physical meetings should not be held.”

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Public Service Permanent Secretary, Catherine Birakwate directed that, “Video conferences/conferences calls should be used as an alternative. For emergency situations where a physical meeting is inevitable, it should be held outdoors, with a composition of up to a maximum of 10 participants and social distance should be observed in line with guidelines issued by the ministry.”

An investigation by ChimpReports indicates that the IG employs close to 400 staff and all are to physically attend the “trainings” ahead of physical interviews.

These officials are traveling from all the 16 regional offices across the country.

The meetings, which started last Monday, comprise board members who have been traveling from many places including Arua and Kiryandongo, raising fears of possible spread of COVID-19 during the conferences.

Some meetings were still taking place as of yesterday (Monday), four days after the Public Service issued strict guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Interestingly, the IG which flashes a torch into the performance of others to ensure compliance with the law and policy is freely defying COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

A low ranking official at the IG told ChimpReports: “We need intervention of the national taskforce, preferably the president to protect us from Mulyagonja’s recklessness. The authority has been abused; this could be withdrawn. We rather close our offices temporarily than lose our lives.”

The source added: “The president even warned against laying off workers among others. He should enforce his instructions. If the IG is breaching the presidential directives, government should not shy away from enforcing them.”

More trouble

Mulyagonja was inaugurated as Judge of Court of Appeal by President Museveni at State House Entebbe on December 11, 2019.

She has since refused to quit her job until a new IGG is appointed.

Section 4 of the Inspectorate of Government Act, 2002, provides that the IGG and Deputy Inspector General “shall be appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament and shall not, while holding office, hold any other office emolument in the public service.”

By claiming that the IGG is illegally holding two offices, corruption suspects can challenge Mulyagonja’s reports and prosecutions.

“As IGG, she is actually a Prosecutor. How can a Prosecutor be a Judge at the same time? It is awkward,” said a lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution.

“An accused person can argue that the Inspectorate of Government is not properly constituted,” the lawyer said, adding, “The people the IGG is taking to Court are armed with this weapon as a technical means to knock out prosecutions which could also cost taxpayers billions on shillings in legal suits.”

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