Uganda High Court has declared ‘non-existent’, the position of ‘Executive Director’ at the National Drug Authority, effectively removing the occupant, Donna Kusemererwa from office.
Considered a hugely divisive and antagonistic figure, Kusemererwa recently faced an internal rebellion at NDA with several officials accusing her of poor work methods.
Kusemererwa responded with fury and attempted to get rid of officials considered independent-minded.
The stroke that would later break her back was triggered by Kusemererwa’s decision to terminate the appointment of Florence Obiocha Nakachwa as Head of Drug Assessment and Registration.
A cancer patient, Nakachwa rushed to court to save her job before asking for a review of the legality of the ED position at NDA.
Deputy High Court registrar, Sarah Langa, read the ruling on Tuesday that nullified the appointment of Kusemererwa as ED of NDA.
Court said it was “satisfied that the position of ED at NDA was non-existent.”
It also directed that Kusemererwa should not even serve as Secretary of NDA.
The body was directed to advertise the position of the Secretary within 30 days from the date of ruling.
It also instructed that Nakachwa resumes her high ranking position at NDA.
Court agreed with Nakachwa that the position of ED at NDA was not only “non-existing” but also contravened Section 54 (2) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act Cap 206.
Breaking the law
ChimpReports broke the news on June 27 that the NDA board in 2016 invited Kusemererwa and offered her the position of Executive Director on contract of 5 years effective January 5, 2016 to 2021, yet, the position was not advertised as required by the NDA Human Resource Manual.
Upon being informed that her contract as ED was illegitimate, the board chairman sought an opinion from the Solicitor General (SG).
In response, the SG cited Section 54 (2) of the National Drug Policy and Authority which provided that the “Secretariat shall be headed by the Secretary to the Drug Authority who shall be appointed by the Drug Authority on terms and conditions that the Drug Authority may determine.”
The SG said the legal implications of changing from Secretary to Executive Director was that the “authority would be amending the Act,” adding, “The office is established by statute and can only be changed by amendment of the Act.”
The SG emphasised that powers of amending the Constitution are vested in the “second arm of government which is Parliament” and that, “the authority would therefore be acting illegally.”
The SG went ahead to clarify that the ‘ED’ position cannot be used instead of Secretary because the Act specifically provides for the latter and that “the title given by the Act should be maintained.”
Despite receiving this letter on June 16, 2016, Kusemererwa’s position never changed.
If this anomaly was not corrected, the taxpayer was expected to lose a staggering Shs 1.8bn as remuneration for the occupant of the ghost ED position.
The ED attracts Shs 30m as monthly gross salary pay.
This translates to Shs 360m per year and Shs 1.8bn for the entire five-year contract.
The occupant of the ghost ED position created by the NDA board was entitled to a chauffeur driven and fueled vehicle, unlimited airtime, leave allowance, medical cover for self, spouse and four dependants, security guarding expenses up to Shs 1.2m, house help and shamba boy up to Shs 300,000 for both, electricity and water expenses up to Shs 250,000 for both.
Other perks included membership to relevant professional bodies, business class ticket for self and spouse once a year and end of year bonus equivalent to one month salary.
The former NDA chairman Dr Sam Zaramba signed the contract which he handed to Kusemererwa.