by Kevin

Under section 15 of the EOC Act 2007, the EOC is mandated to receive, investigate, assess, hear and determine complaints relating to discrimination, marginalization or any act which undermines or impairs Equal Opportunities while observing the rules of natural justice. It’s against this background that the EOC convened tribunals in Kampala, Mukono and Sheema districts. The tribunal in Kampala district was held on 7th and 11th November 2016, at EOC’s head office – bugolobi, the tribunal in Mukono district was held on 17th and 18th November 2016, at Colline Hotel – Mukono and the tribunal in Sheema district was on 22nd and 23rd of November 2016 at Kyalimanya hall.

The tribunal sessions were presided over by Member Zaminah Malole, Member Joel Cox Ojuko, and Member Patrobas Wafula Sirabo with technical assistance from Ms. Bernadette Nalule Kizza – Commissioner Legal Services and Investigations, Mr. Musema Mirage – tribunal clerk, Mr. Grace Ssembatya, Mr. Simon Peter Kiribwa and Ms. Evelyn Sabiiti, Ms. Lillian Doreen Nakibongo and Ms. Vivian Namale.The nature of complaints handled involved alleged discrimination in employment, denial of leave benefits, unlawful dismissal from work, denial of retirement benefits  among others. At the hearings the complainants and respondents were given an opportunity to agree on how they preferred their matters to be resolved since the Commission has various mechanisms through which it handles complaints. These include the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and the formal court procedures.

In total, 12 complaints were handled in Kampala of which 6were handled on the first day. Member Patrobas Wafula Sirabo handled a complaint lodged by Mr. Sergius Mulamuzi against Kooke enterprises over unlawful dismissal from work which allegations the respondent denied. The Member gave the two parties chance to choose the mode they preferred their complaint to be handled to which they agreed on mediation. A resolution was reached and the respondent agreed to pay the complainant the salaries which were not paid during his term of service.

The tribunal also handled a complaint lodged by a group of employees of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) who alleged they were discriminated against in payment of salaries. The complainants claimed UBC denied them salaries for over three months yet other staff had received theirs. Through mediation, it was resolved that the complainants hold a meeting with UBC’s Human resource manager in the company of a EOC’s representative during which she would present the pay slips of other staff to verify whether they received salaries or not.

Member Joel Cox Ojuko also handled a complaint lodged by Mr. Joseph Ddungu against Siyani Brothers and Company.  The complainant alleged that management of Siyani Brothers and Company did not compensate him for injuries he sustained while performing official duties. A consent was signed by the parties to the effect that Mr. Joseph Dungu fills a form on which Gold Star Insurance Company Ltd, the respondents’ insurer would do an assessment for the company to determine the compensation fees he was entitled to.  The representatives of Siyani Brothers and Company also requested Mr. Ddungu to collect his leave benefits for the year.

On 17th and 18th November 2016, the tribunal proceeded to hear more complaints in Mukono district, sitting at Colline hotel. The tribunal was presided over by Member Zaminah Malole and Member Joel Cox Ojuko. Of the complaints heard, some were resolved while others were adjourned due to lack of sufficient evidence and admissibility issues. Among the outstanding complaints handled were allegations of violation of property rights. The complainant, Ms. Scovia Ruth Kutuusa alleged that Mr. Charles Kyaligamba discriminated her and others when sharing property left to them by their deceased father. She added that Mr. Kyaligamba later sold the land to Mr. Fred Ssali without the consent of all the beneficiaries. The respondent however denied the charges and said Ms. Kutuusa was given another plot of land in another area and that she had no share over the land she was claiming.  The two parties were advised to hold a family meeting and see if they could resolve the matter amicably.

Between 24th and 25th November 2016, the Commission proceeded to hear complaints from the districts of Mbarara, Bushenyi, Sheema, Ishaka and the neighboring areas presided over by Member Patrobas Wafula Sirabo. Before the tribunal hearings, the Commission convened pre-tribunal visits on 22nd and 23rd November during which it received fresh complaints. In total, 5 fresh complaints were lodged against the Attorney General and these revolved around lack of compensation for their property which was destroyed during the fights in the west region led by Rangaranga, the rebel leader.

On 24th November 2016, the tribunal kicked off and in total 6 complaints were handled. Among the complaints held was one lodged by Mr. Francis Tumusiime. The complainant, an office attendant with Sheema Municipal Council alleged that he was discriminated against in salary allocations yet his colleagues holding the same position earned more salaries. The respondent refuted this and amidst mediation, it was agreed that the respondent produce copies of pay slips of other office attendants to determine whether there was some form of discrimination. It was agreed that the respondent also furnish the Commission with a letter from the complainant’s immediate supervisor clarifying on his performance and conduct. The matter was adjourned to the next tribunal hearing.

Another complaint handled was between former staff of the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) and management of the Presidential Initiative on Industrial Development. In their complaint, they alleged that PIBID denied them work contracts yet some staff were awarded contracts. The second allegation was that management was selective on the staff it offered medical insurance. After getting details of the complaint, the matter was referred to the labour office.

A complaint filed by Ms. Verina Tumwesigyire against Mr. Alex Kahama Kabaare was also handled. Ms. Tumwesigyire alleged that the respondent grabbed her land and vandalized the house which she had constructed on that piece of land. After hearing from the two parties, it was agreed that the locus be visited to determine the area of the land and its boundaries.

The Commission also handled a complaint filed by Mr. Benon Mugizi Kagwisagye against the Office of the Attorney General over allegations of failure to compensate victims whose property was vandalized by Rangaranga rebel group.The complainant alleged that war victims in Sheema district were compensated but that those in Bushenyi were not paid.   In response to this allegation, the Attorney General representatives requested Member Patrobas to give them time to file a response. They also requested him to allow them work with the complainant before the next seating to see if an agreement would be reached which the complainant agreed to.

Overall, the EOC appreciates the complaints which were lodged. However, many of these lacked evidence and others were not admissible by the Commission since they were neither related to discrimination, marginalization nor denial of equal opportunities. Against this, the Commission will ensure that sensitization and awareness is increased to enable people understand the Commission’s mandate and the nature of complaints it handles. The Commission encourages persons with complaints that are discriminatory to lodge them at the Commission’s head office, through its website or through our toll free number 0800100440.

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