Oil Cash Probe: IGG Mulyagonja Says President Not Above the Law

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In short
Justice Irene Mulyagonja who was invited as an expert witness by the committee chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, disagreed with the Head of Public Service, John Mitala, who told the committee that under Article 98 of the Constitution, the president as a fountain of honour can give anything.

The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja, has noted that President Yoweri Museveni's instruction to award 42 government officials with Shillings six billion was subject to procedures spelt out under the constitution.
 
Justice Mulyagonja was today appearing before the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) investigating the Shillings reward to 42 government officials for their role in a tax arbitration case between the Government of Uganda and Heritage Oil.
 
Mulyagonja who was invited as an expert witness by the committee chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, contradicted earlier submissions by the Head of Public Service John Mitala who told the committee that under Article 98 of the Constitution, the president as a 'fountain of honour' can give anything.  
 
She disagreed with Mitala saying that under Article 98, the president is supposed to do right all the time and that this does not mean that people should take advantage of it to exploit him or his office.
 
Mulyagonja also indicated that with the broad authority given to the president, there are caveats to it under Article 99 (1) which provides that the executive authority of Uganda is vested in the President and shall be exercised in accordance with the constitution and the laws of Uganda.
 
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Correspondences before the committee indicate that the arrangement to pay out Shillings six billion to the officials was hatched during a May 17, 2015 meeting at the President's up country home in Rwakitura between President Museveni and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General Doris Akol.
 
This meeting was followed by a letter from the president directing the finance minister Matia Kasaija to pay the money.
 
Mulyagonja advised Katuntu's committee to determine whether there was any lee-way not to follow the law when payments were made and to determine who was to advise the president about the laws following his directive on the bonuses.
 
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The Public Service Standing Orders require a public servant or group of public servants who think they have done extra-ordinary work to write to their permanent secretary justifying a need for an honorarium.
 
The permanent secretary is then supposed to make a decision or carry out further consultations in line with the request.
 
Last week, the Head of Public Service John Mitala also noted that the six billion Shillings payment was not done as per the Public Service Standing Orders. 

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.