JUDICIARY Latest Features

PS Kagole Kivumbi 2 Years of Reforms
(L-R): Mr. Barugare (Ag. Commissioner Human Resource , Mr Kagole Kivumbi the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Judiciary

On November 15, 2016, the Judiciary received Mr. Kagole Expedito Kivumbi, a seasoned public servant as its Permanent Secretary and fourth Secretary to the Judiciary. Telling from his past track record, the moment Mr. Kagole set foot at the Judiciary headquarters, it was clear that a wave of change was set to sweep throughout the institution. Mr. Kagole did not have a lot of difficulty settling in another justice institution, having come from the Judicial Service Commission,one of the 18 Justice, Law and Order Sector Institutions, where he was accounting officer for seven years. As anticipated by the majority, the two years that he has spent as Judiciary's accounting officer, have come with the following notable reforms:

Resource Envelope Management: One of Mr. Kagole's key priorities has been to streamline systems and processes, especially in the area of accounting and financial processes. To promote prudent handling of finances, he has made it almost impossible for any administrative unit/court to access funds outside the approved work plans. The practice has enabled many activities to take place in the institution without suffocating the core activities of the Judiciary.

Judiciary Head Quarters Face lift: For the first time in more than 10 years, the Kampala High Court building got a face lift. Extensive revamp of the headquarters were carried out between 2017 and 2018, encompassing renovation and painting works on the over 80-year-old building as well as the refurbishing and renovating its places of convenience. It was during the same time that the overhauling of the potholed northern and southern parking drive was undertaken,resulting into the replacement of the bituminous surface with concrete pavers. Similarly, equal efforts were undertaken to clean-up and green Kampala High Court's front and back gardens to give it a modern and more user-friendly look befitting the profile of the headquarters of an arm of the state. Judiciary gardens are now utilized more regularly for official functions, a practice, which already is saving the institution expenses on hiring hotel venues.

Transport for Judicial Officers: The provision of transport equipment to enhance the work of judicial officers is a Presidential directive and one of the key priorities of the Judiciary. Since April 2017, at least 44 brand new 4x4 drive vehicles have been procured to enhance the work of the Judiciary.Vehicles so far procured include three Land Cruiser Station Wagons (one for the Deputy Chief Justice and two for Supreme Court justices); eight Nissan Patrols(Court of Appeal Justices); 17 Pajero Station Wagons (for High Court Judges).Others include two Nissan Patrols (for the Chief Registrar and Secretary to the Judiciary); 12 Toyota Hilux Double Cabin Pick-up Trucks (for Chief Magistrates).

Automation of Courts: The enhancement of ICT facilities and automation of the courts is a presidential commitment - which is in line with Judiciary's five-year ICT strategy (2017/20). In the past two years, Mr. Kagole as an accounting officer supported the timely procurement and distribution of at least 250 laptops for all Chief Magistrates, Magistrates Grade One and key members of the Judiciary administration. Similarly, at least 34 heavy-duty printers (with photocopying and scanning functions) were procured for key offices and courts to enhance timely handling of cases, including printing and photocopying of vital court documents. At the moment, he is quite instrumental in fast-tracking the ongoing implementation of the Electronic Court Case Management and Information System (ECMIS) as well as extension of court services via audio-visual link to Luzira Prison facility.

Furniture for Courts: At least 15 courts in different parts of the country have, over the past two years, received an assortment of furniture. These include the newly constructed and commissioned courthouses and a few others in rented premises. The furniture that has been procured using funds of the Government of Uganda, include court benches with backrests, office tables, judicial chairs, advocate chairs and tables as well as waiting chairs. Some of the courts that have benefited from this capital investment include the new Kabale and Masindi High Courts and the Magistrates Courts of Mitooma, Ibanda, LDC, Kanungu and Kiruhura. New office furniture was equally procured for the Deputy Chief Justice, two Supreme Court Justices, three Court of Appeal Justice and 10 Court Judges.

Timely Payments: Unlike in the past, all Judiciary staff (from Judges down to contract/support staff) receive their monthly salary and allowances by the 15th day of every month. The system was also upgraded to enable the staff/various departments to access, on a timely-basis, operational funds for every quarter in a lump sum. Retirement benefits for retired Judges and other staff of the Judiciary have equally been paid in a timely manner.

Financial Discipline: Over the past two years under Mr. Kagole, it is now common knowledge that requisitions for funds can only be allowed upon proof of accountabilities for funds previously received. Where requisitions are centrally done, the monies are deposited on the beneficiaries' individual bank accounts or Mobile Money lines. Accountability for funds requisitioned for meetings and field activities have to be accompanied with reports from the activities as further evidence that indeed the activity took place.

Bail Deposits Centralized: From July 2017, the Accounting Officer directed the closure of all Judiciary bank accounts previously used for bail deposits by litigants and other revenue collections. They were replaced with a centralized collection account managed by Uganda Revenue Authority, a move that has since saved the institution revenue loss arising from multiple bank charges. It equally addressed the queries in the Auditor General's report of 2015/6 FY, and has also seen the bail refunds managed centrally through the accounting officer.

Tax Compliance: Accounting officers are usually encouraged to ensure maximum tax collection for the government from all the staff and the service providers of the institution. Within a month of his assumption of office as Judiciary's Accounting Officer, Mr. Kagole made it a requirement for all staff to furnish administration with Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) before they could access salaries. Contract staff members were required, on top of the TINs, to submit their National Social Security Fund (NSSF) numbers to enable the institution make NSSF remittances. Similarly, framework contracts for service providers have been enhanced in the institution to ensure that there is no tax evasion by service providers.

Payroll Clean-up: By November 2016 when Mr. Kagole took office, the Judiciary payroll had over 2,100 staff, excluding Judges. There were 520 members on the contract staff payroll - some had salary arrears of up to seven months. However, there has been a major weeding out exercise of the payroll and, so far, the permanent staff payroll consisting of administrative staff and Judicial Officers up to a level of Registrars, stands right below 1,700 staff members. The clean-up has freed up millions of shillings which has now been directed towards Judiciary's core activities.

Records Management: Shortly after his arrival, Mr. Kagole discouraged the unnecessary movement of requisitions and other official internal correspondences by staff from one office to another. The task is now centrally handled by Judiciary's Open Registry, which carefully attaches the documents to subject files and delivers them to relevant offices for appropriate action.This has drastically enhanced records management and lessened queues of people seeking to meet the Permanent Secretary over routine and obvious matters.

Human Resource Management: In a bid to boost efficiency in Administration Staff, there were a number of staff movements at all levels both internally and externally. There have been equally regular interfaces with staff of different cadre. There are periodical meetings with different members of staff to allow proper information flow. Like never before, staff members are also closely monitored in terms of arrival and departure times - they are required to sign attendance registers as well as wear their staff Identity Cards at all times. The procedures are partly intended to curb the increasing cancer of people masquerading as court staff.

Reporting Structures: Whereas Mr. Kagole partly promotes an open door policy -as he practically leaves his office door open, even when in a meeting with an individual or group of staff, he does not exactly encourage meeting staff or handling matters from any Judiciary unit where the unit head is unaware. This encourages harmony in the departments.

Staff Discipline: Incidents of missing files from the courts has become a thing of yesterday, thanks to the firm disciplinary hand of the Permanent Secretary. At least 18 support staff members (court clerks, process servers and accounts staff) have over the past two years been interdicted over cases of indiscipline. Staff members are more professional and disciplined as a result.

Staff Confirmations: Previously, there were hundreds of staff members who were working without being confirmed in service by the Public Service Commission. Between 2017 and now, submissions with appropriate recommendations have been made and over 250 have been confirmed in service.

Re-organisation of Archives: The Judiciary archives comprising millions of paper files, court and administrative records were, for the first time in 2018, catalogued,thanks to the prioritization by the accounting officer. Previously, the archives had been continuously stored in the five basement storerooms of the Kampala High Court building since the late 1940s. They were largely inaccessible to researchers and citizens because they were not catalogued. The accessibility of the Judiciary archive will be of great benefit as it will allow graduate and undergraduate students working on Uganda's history access to an extraordinarily rich, utterly unique resource for research.

Power Back-up Systems:Uganda still has the challenge of unreliable supply of electricity, and this greatly affects court business, especially in upcountry courts. To mitigate this challenge, the accounting officer, in the past two years, made it part of his priorities to secure power back-up systems for the courts in dire need. In this regard, at least four heavy-duty generators were in 2017 procured as power back-up for the High Court Circuits of Fort Portal and Mbarara; the Family Division in Makindye; and the official residence of the Chief Justice. Similarly,the Chief Magistrates Courts of Kotido, Moroto and Apala were equipped with solar panels and batteries, and now rely on solar power systems for lighting and powering computers.

CCTV Cameras Installed: Kampala High Court building/Judiciary Head Quarters was in June 2018 fitted with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)cameras in a move to boost security at the building located in the city centre. The cameras were strategically positioned in areas accessed by members of the public, such as corridors, walkways major offices, gardens, court halls as well as registries.

As he starts his 35th year in public office and 4th term as Permanent Secretary,we await to see how Mr Kagole E. Kivumbi will contribute to the realization of Judiciary's current three key priorities: the enactment of the Administration of the Judiciary Bill into law; the automation of courts; and the provision of equipment, security and transport to Judicial Officers.

Posted 14th, November 2018
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