Uganda’s 0utgoing Chief Justice Bart Katureebe is set to hold a symbolic handover ceremony on Monday June 22 for highest office in the Judiciary to his deputy, after clocking the mandatory retirement age of 70 years, on Saturday June 20, 2020.
Justice Katureebe has made known that his decision not to delay his retirement one extra minute in the highest office, despite its many privileges, is seen as an example to all public servants across the country.
Indeed, in a country where many leaders don’t want to retire, despite having a very high proportion of the population below 35 years, Justice Katureebe appears to want to tell those hesitating to leave, that retiring when your time is up, is a virtue that helps to cement your legacy.
In an statement released by the Judiciary’s public relations office, Katureebe is quoted to have told his staff on Friday that: “I have retired and I’m going home. I want people to see that you can retire and go home. I am just winding up for the new person to come in.
“I’ll be coming to Kampala as a visitor, and may be to the Supreme Court where I still have three months to finish my judgements. I also want to complete my book and I hope I can have the manuscript ready by December.”
The statement further quotes Katureebe as saying: “The Deputy Chief Justice will be acting from Sunday, because I technically leave on Saturday 20th June midnight. After that, I will not be able to sign anything as chief Justice.”
Katureebe says he feels happy not only for being able to retire on time, but also for contributing towards strengthening the institution of the judiciary and lifting the conditions of work for judicial officers.
“For me I am very happy with where we have reached – almost everything of mine has clicked,” Katureebe is quoted as having said.
The Chief Justice cited a number of achievements in his 5-year tenure. He cited improvements in the administration justice such as the Electronic Case Management System, improvements in the remuneration of judges, the start of Construction works for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, as well as advocating for the passing of a law that secures the independence of the judicial arm of government as part of his legacy.
Katureebe said: “The ECCMIS (Electronic Court Case Management Information System) is on course, the Construction of the Appellate Courts is on Course, the Administration of the Judiciary Bill, which was passed by Parliament and now assented to by the President (as of today) – that’s my achievement.”
Katureebe is also proud of the improvements in the welfare of judicial officers.
“When I joined the judiciary in 2005, judges were getting UGX5m per month, but they are now getting an average of UGX25m,” said Katureebe, who appeared to appreciate President Museveni for helping to cement his legacy by assenting to the Administration of the Judiciary Bill, just before the CJ stepped out of office.
“There was nothing in the law for the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice when they retire. We have not had a law in place providing for retirement benefits other than the pension and gratuity paid under the Pensions Act. Now we have the law in place providing retirement benefits for all judicial officers.”
On June 2, 2020, Parliament of Uganda passed The Administration of the Judiciary Bill 2018, after protracted delays that were blamed on the lack of commitment on the part of the previous line Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Kahinda Otafiire.
Having been assented to by President Yoweri Museveni on Friday June 19, 2020, The Administration of the Judiciary Bill 2018 now grants full salary to all living former Chief Justices and their deputies (equivalent to that received by sitting officers).
The law also gives a retired Chief Justice and his deputy, a one-off lump sum retirement benefit equivalent to 2.4 per cent of the annual salary of their last salary, multiplied by five and their years in service.
The same bill ensures that judicial officers continue to get 80 percent of their salary when they retire.
Katureebe’s Career Roll
- Justice Katureebe has spent the last 36 years of his life in public service, having started out as a State Attorney in 1975.
- From 1975 until 1983, Katureebe worked as a state attorney in the Ministry of Justice.
- From 1983 until 1988, he went into private practice.
- Between 1988 and 1991, he returned to public service as the Deputy Minister for regional cooperation then deputy minister of industry and technology.
- From 1991 to 1992 to he served as State Minister for Health and a member of the National Resistance Council.
- From 1994 to 1995, he was the elected member of the Constituent Assembly representing Bunyaruguru County, Rubirizi District.
- From 1996 until 2001, he served as the Minister of Justice, Constitutional Affairs and Attorney general.
- He went back to private practice in 2001, starting his own law firm Kampala Associated Advocates. He was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court in 2005.
- On 5 March 2015, he was appointed chief justice to date.