The project coordinator of the Lubowa Specialized hospital Dr. Eng. John Tumwesigye has lost a case in which he sued government and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwine, for terminating his contract.
Government represented by the Health and Finance Ministry executed a Public Works Investment Agreement with M/s Finasi/Roko Construction SPV Ltd for the financing, design, construction and equipping of the International Specialized Hospital in Lubowa, on Kampala-Entebbe Road.
In accordance with the terms of the agreement, government on 15th June, 2016 engaged Dr. Tumwesigye to act as a Project Coordinator under a three-year contract starting 1st July 2016. However, government through the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr. Diana Atwine terminated Dr. Tumwesigye’s contract on 24th February 2017.
Dr. Tumwesigye took the matter to the Civil Division of high Court seeking orders to declare that the permanent secretary had neither authority nor the power or mandate to terminate his contract and that she is incompetent and unfit to hold public office of the Permanent Secretary. He also sought damages of $180,000 (approximately sh637 million) assessed as the contract value.
In their defense however, government and Dr. Diana Atwine told court that the project coordinator had been redundant from the time he received the contract in June 2016 not carrying out any of the functions he was contracted to do which made the government incur losses. It was on the basis of the Solicitor General’s advice that the contract was terminated.
Government and Dr. Atwine further argued that Dr Tumwesigye’s services were terminated because the investor who was supposed to construct the hospital was still sourcing for funds and that there was no provision in the budget for FY 2016/2017 to cater for his pay.
Although the investor was initially thought to have money to invest, it emerged that they needed government funding. It was later in March 2019 that Parliament approved USD 379m for the hospital project.
In his judgment, Justice Musa Ssekana dismissed Dr Tumwesigye’s application saying that Dr, Atwine acted within her mandate, authority and power as the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health to terminate the contract.
He ruled that the termination of the contract was a measure by the PS of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwine, aimed at saving the government from further loss, which was within her constitutional function and duty under article 174(3)(d). The suit was dismissed with costs.