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PS Kabagambe in Court Over Umeme Report

Four months after Parliament voted to punish Uganda’s power generation and distribution companies and Energy officials, a top government official has challenged the decision in court.

Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, wants court to declare that Parliament’s resolution was illegal and hence no legal action can be brought against him based on it. In March, as recommended by the ad hoc committee on Energy, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to terminate the contracts of power distributor Umeme and generation firm Eskom.

Parliament also recommended the prosecution of Kaliisa David Ssebabi, the director of the Privatization Unit and Engineer Elia Kiyembe, the managing director of UETCL, for abuse of office. The legislators accused the three of exacerbating Umeme’s loss factor when they irregularly raised it from 33 per cent to 38 per cent.

However, through ABMAK Associates Aocates and Legal Consultants, Kaliisa claims that the resolution is illegal because it was based on the recommendation of an ad hoc committee that misapplied sections 15 and 16 of the Electricity Act. He says the ad hoc committee apparently failed to distinguish between power distribution loss factor used by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) in determining power tariffs, and the power distribution loss threshold established by government for the purpose of ensuring that Umeme manages power distribution losses.

According to Kallisa, the resolution should be quashed by court since the recommendations of the ad hoc committee have never been adopted by Parliament.

“That, I [Kaliisa] have perused through the Hansard and found out that the recommendation of the committee upon which the resolution was premised was not adopted,” he says.

The plaint also says MPs erroneously disregarded Kaliisa’s explanation that he had a legal mandate to chair a meeting that set a default loss threshold for the purpose of capping the power distribution losses in order to ensure that Umeme manages the power distribution losses which were on the rise.

Kaliisa claims he fears that he is at risk of facing criminal prosecution since parliament has ordered Prime Minster Amama Mbabazi to implement a resolution that he deems unlawful and unreasonable.

“It’s only just and equitable that the impugned resolution be quashed and purged from the record of parliament on the ground of illegality and irrationality,” he states.

Kaliisa also wants court to issue a permanent injunction stopping the government of Uganda or any official from enforcing and taking legal action against him on the basis of the contested resolution. The attorney general, who is the only respondent in the case, is yet to reply.

Source : The Observer

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