In every government office, all three branches, a copy of the Government Standing Orders 2010 rests in a well- appointed location. This small bible details all matters big and small. Very little of government business is conducted openly, with the exception that officials may be charged and found guilty even where they implement orders from above. If in doubt, ask a number of permanent secretaries and accounting officers who have been led down the gauntlet when they implement “orders from above.”
The Principal Private Secretary to the President, Molly Kamukama, Kalangala’s most prominent resident, clarified this to the public in a hearing of the ongoing land probe, stating that it is true letters are written in the name of the President asking that certain things be done, but this wasn’t a directive that they be done unconditionally.
I wonder whether the PPS had honestly forgotten the words insubordination or the numerous phone calls made to enforce the word of the President’s letter. In any case, it is the President in exercise of his powers under Article 99 of the Constitution branch, who can direct all officers of government to perform their duties in a particular manner.
There may be some grey area whether this extends to the courts, but in practice, directives and business of the Judiciary in government is handled by the Ministry of Justice. But that distinction loses meaning in the lower courts where orders from above are routinely telegraphed to junior officers. We have already heard from higher judges that these calls do come. And for the rest all and sundry, DPP, IGG, IGP, security chiefs down to ministers, they receive these orders everyday.
The charade of the minister of Lands Betty Amongi is another illustration of this special power. Amongi and [Persis]Namuganza, her minister of state, enjoy privileges and security far above what the other ministers enjoy. Their travel is prioritised in order to get about their day without a problem. Namuganza has a semi-official status that allows her to brief regularly against her colleagues and higher ups.
The only utility, therefore, from the minister’s and PPS’ testimony to the land probe, is a clarification that the Land Fund long considered a white elephant and the Departed Asians Custodian Board long considered “spent” in terms of mandate and subject matter, are alive and kicking.
I remember a couple of months ago being pestered to respond to a query on the Land Fund. I obviously sounded ignorant and unhelpful to folks who wanted to “release” sizable land into the Land Fund.
For the Asians, one wonders why there is still business to transact 40 years after the Asians, under pressure from IMF and the World Bank, were “righted” even though most had been paid off by Idi Amin in 1973 as most of them did not have funds to settle in the countries they fled to and were abandoned by the British government.
There is a wise gentleman in the room where all this was happening who knows a little more than the average Ugandan on the matters of State. He once offered over a sandwich lunch, in Uganda, you can investigate for years and its resolution is always in one office or orders from above.
Orders from above determine the scope of an investigation, who gets arrested, charged or even convicted.
There are a few famous convicts pinned for having a big mouth, trying to be smart Alecs, insisting on doing the right thing or being tricked into implementing orders from above.
If you have read them at least once, you will agree, so and so is a good boy or good girl or a good cadre…the letter will end advising you to consider a good deed for a member of the team or son of this cadre or comrade. Ignore it at your peril.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate. email@example.com