In a March 6 dossier, Samantha Mwesigye, a Senior State Attorney in the Attorney General’s chambers, wrote to Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda accusing the Deputy Solicitor General, Christopher Gashirabake, of sexually harassing her for the last one decade.
“Prior to contacting you, all attempts at following protocol have not yielded any results. The background to my complaint is as follows; I met Mr Gashirabake when he supervised me as a clerkship student in 2005. This is when the sexual harassment started,” Mwesigye states.
“At the time, it involved snide remarks and jokes of sexual nature. I then joined the ministry as an employee in 2007 and he became my immediate supervisor. It was then that he started a full blown assault on me offering to take me to lunch, asking to take me on long weekends away and occasionally asking to take me to a lodge for instant gratification,” she adds.
Mwesigye states that she never responded to Mr Gashirabake’s requests and “it was only years later around 2009 that he made it a point to let me know I was a grown up woman and must be knowing what he has been up to all these years. I then told him indeed I was a grown up and I did understand what he wanted from me but I wasn’t willing to have a relationship of sexual nature because we worked together.”
She says Gashirabake started treating her with hostility and stopped giving her assignments.
In her petition to the Prime Minister, Mwesigye wants Dr Rugunda to protect her from sexual discrimination and victimisation and also institute a sexual harassment committee to investigate the alleged sexual harassment allegations she raised.
“It is high time government showed that it is committed to protecting women in the workplace. Sexual harassment is endemic and systematic in public service. Outcry has been made in public institutions… and no action has been taken. The time to act is now,” she states.
Is this sexual harassment or a fight for foreign trips?
Early this week different media houses and social media platforms were spanked by allegations accusing the Deputy Solicitor General Christopher Gashirabake for extending sexual harassments to one of his juniors Ms. Mwesigye Samantha, a Senior State Attorney in the Attorney General’s chambers.
Mwesigye appeared at NBS TV and interview, she gave details of how she had “suffered” sexual harassment under her supervisor since she undertook clerkship is 2007.
However, new developments reaching our investigative desk has raised mixed reactions over what could be the exact cause of allegations that have swept the social media and raised dust at the might ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Our investigations have landed on a thread of emails between the two learned fellows that could have sparked off the allegations! It seems to us that Ms. Mwesigye has been holding an outstanding grudge with the Deputy Solicitor General over refusal to award her foreign trips of her choice.
In one of her many emails to Mr. Gashirabake, dated 11th June, 2018, Mwesigye grieves of how the Deputy Solicitor General has failed to come to her financial rescue by helping her to earn more cash through foreign troops.
She laments that her earlier obvious many trips have dwindled to mere weeks in a year yet these trips are her soul source of income.
“I really enjoy my work I do, its intellectually rewarding but there will come a time when even that will not mean much. Economically I have survived with a lot of strain, my salary alone cannot cover my rent. I have been forced to supplement it with a business which is also not fully covering my demands,” reads one of the messages wrote by Mwesigye to the deputy solicitor General.
Ms Mwesigye adds that for the whole of 2017, she was received a few trips compared to her colleagues yet this is the only way how officials can get some allowances to help them sustain their families since the ministry has over time not fuelled the bid to have their salaries enhanced.
“Last year you nominated me for one trip (the EAC Council of ministers meeting and the summit which was 10 days in Feb). I also travelled to Washington in November for two week course which I got grudgingly after I confronted the training committee. This year (2018 then) I traveled two weeks ago to Gabon for 4 days having have last travelled 7 months before that. Last year I had a trip to London and Paris and after I got a visa you replaced me with Betty Adwono a State Attorney who I am senior to. It upset me and I contacted you since you were out of the country and you didn’t dignify me with response. It happened again this year when you replaced me with Ms Nabakooza Margret (PSA), at least she was a senior officer and by then I had purposed never to hold emotions over trips. You apologized and I do believe it was not intentional. However I have begun feeling victimized. Some people have already recorded 42 days this year alone from trips, I have 6 including travel days. I currently have only one contract committee. All these are avenues for earning income which I do not benefit from,” reads Mwesigye’s complain to the deputy solicitor General something that makes one wonder how travel complains transformed to sexual harassment.
Deputy Solicitor General responds:
In reply to Mwesigye’s allegations above, Gashirabake denied to have ever asked her any sexual favours in return of anything but promised to critically look into the matter and make amendments where possible, citing that all officials should equally benefit.
Gashirabake also said that her quarrels with originate from her code of conduct including inappropriate dressing but no intentions of extending sexual harassments advancements to any of his juniors.
“I cautioned you about your inappropriate dressing manner and reminded you of the public service standing orders. I don’t think this was overstepping my official boundaries or it amounted to sexual advances to you and you may be referring to as covert and overt sexual overtures. I’m not apologetic on this. The other time is when you had painted your hair red! I told you not to return to office until you removed the red dye in line with the same standing orders. You did it. A senior officer to me and I insist should be an example to others!” Mr. Gashirabake noted.
“I don’t have preferred officers for trips as you seem to be insinuating. I have never accused you of corruption. Of being rude to clients like the UNEB leadership, yes but not corruption! It’s unfortunate that someone can recognize corruption as an official source of survival instead of the legitimate emoluments. I don’t subscribe to tha,.” Gashirabake said.
From the trail of this conversation, we are only left to wonder whether truly these are proper allegations of sexual harassment or just a fight over foreign trips!
More so, while at the insider we don’t condone such acts, we are left with many questions:
1. As a trained lawyer, at what time did it come to her attentions that actually she has been suffering from sexual harassment?
2. She alleges that sexual harassment started in 2007 when she was still doing clerkship in the same directorate, why then choose to bounce back to the same place?
3. Why choose to keep in the same Directorate for all these years under her tormentor yet the ministry has several directorates she could have chosen to be transferred to, to avoid such harassment?
4. Apart from her allegations (just word of mouth) there seems to be no further evidence to support her allegations.
5. From her own email, she seems to have been on plane throughout her years of work, could a slash on her foreign trips be the reason of her allegations?
6. The ministry seems mute of all these allegations….. could the Ministry be stuck with how to handle such scandals?