By Hanning Mbabazi
Kampala: Senior State Attorney at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samantha Mwesigye has fired back at her former boss Christopher Gashirabake, whom she accuses of allegedly harassing her sexually.
Below is a statement she has posted on her social media platform claiming to have personal right to rebuttal but she’s not sure if that right will be accorded to her and therefore she will use her social media platforms to exercise her rights.
Full statement posted reads thus;
I have read with dismay the response to my sexual harassment complaint. I am certain I have a right to rebuttal and am equally certain no such right will be accorded to me. Primarily I will start with the email I initially sent to him on 11th June 2018 and his response having been “Noted. Was this missive required.” For a seasoned lawyer we are all aware he would never have responded thus if my claims were not true…be that as it may I have always failed to understand his purported ‘slight’ at my having shared the email with 2 colleagues. When I first lodged my complaint Mr Gash approached Mr Suuza to mediate one of my conditions was that he names the people I purportedly showed the email. He did name Ms Odongo and Ms Buchana. He can’t now claim more people than I did tell.I do wish perhaps I had shared it with more people…I was particularly embarrassed at what I had been going through all these years and never having to stand up for myself. I am also not sure where he gets the illusion I was duty bound to keep his secret. I was only able to write this email after a lawyer friend of mine Mr Karugaba Phillip who i confided in about the harassment I was facing at his hands overwhelmed me.
We had been working on a project in Mulago for over a year and we became friends. On one occasion he came to the Ministry to see the Director First Parliamentary Counsel and later passed by my office to great me. He found me in low spirits and tried to ask what was going on…I broke down and cried. I informed him I had been facing sexual harassment from Mr Gash. He told me to stand up for myself. I was unable to do so for years after I first shared with Mr Karugaba. What followed was he continued to try and convince me to stand up for myself. I then started sharing screenshots of WhatsApp messages he would routinely send. The last one I shared was of him pleading to come to my house which I first ignored. He then wrote to ask if the request was inappropriate which I said was. After sharing that screenshot with Mr Karugaba he insisted I tell him off in an email. I never got to do so immediately because Mr Gashs’ advances were never daily.He would start an onslaught for weeks only to give me a reprieve. At the time Mr Karugaba kept asking if I had written the email. I told him I could not because I was not being harassed at that particular time. It was the incident with the body guard where he then said had I been in a relationship with him no one else would disrespect me by asking me out that then made me email him on 11th June 2018. You do realise his later response “Never” addressed my substantive claims of Sexual Harassment not even my reminder when I had earlier told him I had told him his actions were sexual harassment and he said “you can report me to public service they will not do anything to me”.
In response to him saying I came to him when I was not being treated well by my former employer. That is a lie. That lady gave me my first job having just walked into her office and her not knowing me. She equipped me with knowledge and took a keen interest in mentoring me. I owe most of my survival skills in the profession to her. I worked with her for about 8 months in which time she personally so to my career growth. I later quit on a matter of principle when a Secretary received summons to file a defence on behalf of a client out of time and the Secretary claimed I instructed her to do so. I felt I should have been heard before she took sides. In as far as my Uncle approaching him to get me a job after clerkship I was not aware of it until recently but if he were a Principl State Attorney then am certain he is grandstanding if he is purporting to have had anything to do with my obtaining the job. Secondly he knows very well I had no choice in the department I would join. My appointment letter was clear I could even be deployed upcountry. That I ended up in DLAS was never something I could control. The practise though is that students who did clerkship usually ended up in the department somewhere they did clerkship.
The other lies I would like to categorically highlight are;
- I have never attacked a colleague about being replaced on any assignment. The prerogative to assign isn’t mine. That was Ms Nanziri attacking Ms Nyamwenge…why he is choosing to juxtapose me in this is beyond me.
- He did attempt to replace me in the UNEB CC but I objected because I had done nothing wrong. I merely refused the procurement of a consultant Galiwango by direct procurement a service that could have been offered by anyone else and had been going on for so long. I presented evidence to the committee in this regard.
- He never removed me from the CC of PU. My first term ended and Ms Nakkungu while acting asked if I wanted to return and I said no. I later informed Mr Mwase of my reasons. Perhaps one should wonder if I were soooooo unprofessional why I would continue to interface with other clients or why as the chair of the disciplinary committee he never brought me before the committee. I actually once found a Loose Minute on my personal file for disciplinary purposes which never got called but were maliciously put in. I asked him to endorse that it had been a misunderstanding but he refused. Why would he do that if indeed there was no disciplinary hearing?
- I dare him to mention which PS of Foreign Affairs complained about me delaying work. I have been on record as someone who does work in record time and even graduated to receiving emails from missions abroad to expedite their work which I have done. Perhaps he can mention the assignment otherwise I assure you it isn’t there. He should also inform you about my assignment to Paris and why he removed me and instead travelled with a junior SA.
- I have never alleged to be on 16 CCs. For the past 2 and a half years I have had one CC until recent when I got the 2nd. One other committee I had had my term renewed on has not met for 2yrs and my term should have expired. I did ask to be removed since it had no work and was told to just let it lapse. The other had its work transferred to another PDE and my term has since lapsed. About being given other gainful opportunities I would like to see evidence of that. The last times I travelled was for opportunities extended to Government employees which I sought out on my own and for which a mere endorsement of a “nomination” was required to confirm employment in Government. It is laughable that even those he managed to find he shrouds in the mystery of others looming and purports not have found because of time. This is someone responding in may 2019 to allegations he became aware of in June 2018. This is clear evidence of impunity…it simply never occurred to him he would be brought to book!!!!!
It is well known to him I did feel victimised. I mentioned this several times in department meetings and to him. It was also brought to his attention by Justice Ketra Katungunka. I remember when I first learnt of her appointment to the High Court. She passed by my office and I congratulated her. I told her I had mixed feelings…whereas I was happy for her I felt like she had abandoned me. She went on to ask why I felt that way. I couldn’t respond immediately because I was overcome by emotion. I went on to tell her amidst crying that I always knew she would have my back and as long as she would act as Director sometimes I would then get a fair shake in opportunities. She asked what I had done to Mr Gash and I said I didn’t know. She did tell him and that day he nominated me for a trip. He however called me a day later and was upset I had told Justice Ketra. I have many a tale to share at what I have suffered at Mr Gashs’ hands, that I chose to confront him by email was never light nor malicious. When he says I brought his wealth in issue he omitted to mention it was in defence of the smear campaign he had his agents do which included salacious gossip that I lived in a house in a posh suburb which he bought and had been living with me!!!! If he expected me to keep quiet while he dragged my name in the mud he has another thing coming.
Senior State Attorney
Mwesigye, through her lawyers, has further written to the Solicitor General asking that her alleged tormentor step aside for smooth investigations to go on without interference. “Gashirabake should be required to step aside forthwith from the office of Deputy Solicitor General until the conclusion of the investigations to facilitate a fair and speed investigation into the allegations,” Mwesigye’s lawyers wrote. Mwesigye adds that “It makes no sense for a committee to be put in place to investigate someone who is still in office with a lot of powers and that as such, he is capable of influencing investigations and outcome.” She says that Gashirabake, as the Deputy Solicitor General is in full control of the administrative functions at the Justice Ministry and can influence the committee’s decisions.
“The law requires that at any time during investigations, a person alleged to have harassed should be temporarily transferred, reassigned or sent on leave pending completion of the investigations .No such measure appears to have been taken in respect of Christopher Gashirabake,” Mwesigye says. She argues that the new committee should be constituted by people with “necessary expertise” and knowledge in gender related abuse and should also be gender sensitive. “The ministry should provide assurance of protection to me from any form of victimization in the investigation and the process should be timely and impartial.” Mwesigye on March 6, 2019, petitioned the Prime Minister saying her supervisor, Christopher Gashirabake had sexually harassed her for over a decade, having started when he supervised her as a clerkship student. The Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations, 2012, sexual harassment involves a direct or implicit request to an employee for sexual intercourse, sexual contact or any other form of sexual activity. The regulations also indicate that use of language whether written or spoken of sexual nature such as unwelcome verbal advances, sexual oriented comments, request for sexual favours, jokes of sexual nature among others are all forms of sexual harassment.