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Press Statement: Management Of The Rural Electrification Fund Application For Judicial Review Of S.I. No. 62 Of 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 16TH MAY 2020

On April 28th, 2020, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development issued the Electricity (Establishment and Management of the Rural Electrification Fund) Instrument, S.I. No. 62 of 2020 revoking the Electricity (Establishment and Management of the Rural Electrification Fund) Instrument, S.I. No. 75 of 2001. The new Instrument was published in the Uganda Gazette on 30th April 2020. The Instrument among others provides for the continuity of the Rural Electrification Fund, the Rural Electrification Board, and the Rural Electrification Agency.

On 12th May 2020, the Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), a public interest organization in collaboration with other stakeholders lodged an application for judicial review of the new Statutory Instrument under Miscellaneous Cause No.91 of 2020, following a robust research conducted by the Organization. The Application seeks to challenge the legality of the process of making and passing S.I No. 62 of 2020, and the scope of the powers exercised by the Minster of Energy and Mineral Development in making the provisions of S.I. 62 of 2020.

Notwithstanding the powers of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development under the Electricity Act 1999, Cap 145, CEPIL has, in public interest sought court redress to ensure effective and proper management of the Rural Electrification Fund which is a public resource. The Fund draws resources from the Consolidated Fund, donors and financial facilities from Financial Institutions such as Commercial Banks.

The judicial review application lodged by CEPIL seeks to challenge the process of making and passing of the Electricity (Establishment and Management of the Rural Electrification Fund) Instrument, S.I. No. 62 of 2020 on four main grounds. The application seeks to fault the process of making the new Instrument for: (a) not complying with the public and private sector participation requirements under the Constitution and the Electricity Act through consultations; (b) exclusion of key stakeholders from the Rural Electrification Board such as the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance/Secretary to the Treasury and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government representatives, representative of the donors, the financial sector (banks), and the Non-Governmental Organizations; (c) failure to comply with the recommendations of the Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan 2013 – 2022; and (d) overlooking the application of other legislation like the Public Finance Management Act 2015 regulating the expenditure and accountability of funds drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Due to the COVID – 19 pandemic lock-down and the circular issued by the Chief Justice suspending all court hearings and appearances except for urgent matters, the Court heard CEPIL’s application for a certificate of urgency to enable the Court hear the matter. The presiding judge of the High Court Civil Division hearing the matter, His Lordship Justice Mr. Ssekaana Musa issued a Certificate of Urgency and an Interim Order on 13th May 2020.

The Interim Order served on the Attorney General restrains the “Minister of Energy and Mineral Development and persons or authorities acting under the Electricity (Establishment and Management of the Rural Electrification Fund) Instrument, S.I. No. 62 of 2020 from implementing S.I. No. 62 of 2020 until the determination of the application for temporary Injunction vide Miscellaneous Application No. 210 of 2020”.

The court has fixed 16th June 2020 as the date for hearing the application for the temporary injunction (Miscellaneous Application No. 210 of 2020), and mention of the main application for judicial review. The Attorney General was served with the court documents and is yet to file a response.

—END OF STATEMENT—

Download the full statement here

For more information, please contact:

Gad Arthur Kisaalu, Programmes Officer Litigation – CEPIL
legal@cepiluganda.org
Tel: +256 782 120 666 (mobile)

Francis Obonyo, Programmes Officer Advocacy – CEPIL
programmeofficer@cepiluganda.org
Tel: +256 774 640 206 (mobile)