Kampala. The Judiciary has frozen payment of millions of Shillings as hotel accommodation bills for the Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, Daily Monitor has learnt.
The secretary to the Judiciary, Mr Kagole Kivumbi, recently stopped paying hotel accommodation bills for Justice Kavuma, describing the cost as wasteful expenditure.
“I stopped the footing of hotel bills for Justice Kavuma. This is part of the new measures that I have put in place to deal away with wasteful expenditures that I found in place,” Mr Kagole told Daily Monitor by telephone yesterday.
Mr Kagole controls the finances of the Judiciary given his role as the accounting officer.
He explained that judges receive monthly housing allowances, which money is enough to accord them decent accommodation.
“Judges get monthly housing allowance of about Shs4m, so why should we add them more money to sleep in hotels?” Kagole asked.
Justice Kavuma had until recently been sleeping in a hotel in the upscale suburb of Muyenga under an amicable arrangement with the Judiciary. He chose to sleep in a hotel instead of his residential home citing security reasons.
Daily Monitor could not readily establish the security reasons that scared Justice Kavuma from his own home.
In October 2005, a police guard attached to Justice Kavuma’s home in Old Kampala was shot dead by unknown assailants.
In 2006, another police guard Pte Livingstone Abaho attached to his home was found dead in an uncovered sewer near his home in Old Kampala.
Daily Monitor could not establish whether these two incidents were connected to Justice Kavuma’s decision to move away from his residence.
He later struck an amicable agreement with the Judiciary to procure for him hotel accommodation but the exact date could not be established.
However, Daily Monitor learnt that he started living in a hotel about 2014, eight years after the last attack on his residence in Old Kampala.
When Daily Monitor asked how much the Judiciary was paying for Justice Kavuma’s hotel accommodation, a highly placed source privy to the process, said the expenditure on the Deputy Chief Justice’s lodging bills were not clearly provided for in the budge.
“That money was not clearly spelt out in the budget. It was just disguised,” the source said without saying when the Judiciary started paying for Justice Kavuma’s hotel accommodation.
Efforts to get Justice Kavuma’s comment were futile as he did not pick our repeated calls to his cellular phone and he did not return them either.
However, the Judiciary Chief Registrar, Mr Paul Gadenya, said he was not aware of the gentleman’s arrangement for Justice Kavuma’s hotel accommodation. He referred Daily Monitor to the Secretary to the Judiciary who manages the Judiciary’s finances.
However, Mr Gadenya said the Salaries and Allowances (Specified Officers) Act provides terms and conditions for specific judicial officers, including the Deputy Chief Justice.
“It’s only the Chief Justice who is entitled to a fully furnished house but the Deputy Chief Justice is entitled to housing, travel, furniture and other allowances. Whatever the given officer does with this money is their concern,” Mr Gadenya said by telephone yesterday.
Mr Gadenya suggested that official residences be built for Deputy Chief Justice, judges and magistrates.
Since Mr Kagole took over the Judiciary docket as accounting officer early this year, he has made several changes in the Judiciary including transfers and suspensions of many non-judicial officers in what he termed as a crackdown to restore discipline in the sector widely perceived as corrupt.
Justice Kavuma became Deputy Chief Justice in March 2015 after serving as acting Chief Justice from April 2013, pending the appointment of the successor to the incumbent Justice Benjamin Odoki.
Previously, he had been a judge of the Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court.
Justice Kavuma, who has had a stormy tenure as both judge of the Constitutional Court and Deputy Chief Justice will retire next month upon clocking 70 years of age.
However, the law allows him three more months in office to clear any pending workload at his desk before hanging up his boots.