On 9th August 2019, the Chairperson of Makerere University Council Mrs. Lorna Magara officially welcomed Justice John Patrick Mashongo Tabaro to the new position of Chairperson of Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal.
The colorful ceremony was attended by representatives from; Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), Makerere University Administrative Staff Association (MASA), National Union of Educational Institutions (NUEI) and members of Makerere University Public Relations office.
Retired High Court Judge, Justice Tabaro was appointed Chairperson of the Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal by the Chancellor Prof. Ezra Suruma for a four-year term (May 15th 2019-15th May 2023). Justice Tabaro’s appointment is in line with section 56(1) (a) of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act (UOTIA), 2001 as amended.
He takes over office from Mr. George Omunyokol whose term ended on 20th March 2019.
He served in the Judiciary for over 36 years, when he started as Magistrate in 1976; rising through the ranks to become a Constitutional Court Judge, Acting Principal Judge among other roles.
In his acceptance speech on 9th August 2019, Justice Tabaro paid tribute to the outgoing Chairperson Mr. George Omunyokol and to Mr. Didas Nkurunziza who chaired the pioneer tribunal.
“It is difficult enough to judge the general public, but it is also problematic when the top intellectuals are the litigants and the onerous task to resolve the disputes falls upon unfortunate mortals like me or to my two predecessors. Today, we are talking of about 36000 students hence we should assume that issues that arise here on campus concerning students, academic staff, administration and support staff are enormous. However, that is not to say that we should fold our arms in despair or lamentation,” he said.
According to Justice Tabaro, a community without justice digs its way to anarchy and decline. He therefore, promised dedication, justice, and impartiality when executing his tasks. On behalf of his team, he also promised to constitute a forum for impartial and transparent resolution disputes as mandated under the University and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, 2001 as amended.
“It is only axiomatic that if the tribunal acts impartially transparently without fear or favor, the whole university community will be the beneficiary as this will create a peaceful atmosphere, conducive to the generation of knowledge for the good of Uganda and the benefit of the whole university community and future alumni,” he said.
At the same function, Justice Tabaro witnessed three members of the new Tribunal swearing in. These included; Prof. Ben Kiromba Twinomugisha -Representative of University Senate, Dr. Phiona Muhwezi Mpanga- Representative of MUASA, and Dr. Ronald Kakungulu-Mayambala-Representative MUASA.
The Chairperson of Makerere University Council congratulated Justice Tabaro and his team upon the new positions and pledged Makerere University Council’s readiness to cooperate in processes that facilitate the work of the Tribunal.
In the same spirit, he thanked the Outgoing Chairperson and Members of the Tribunal for taking a bold stand to uphold justice, fairness, accountability, transparency and integrity for the good of Makerere University and Uganda in general.
In her welcome address, Mrs. Magara emphasized the importance of a tribunal when she said, “the world over, tribunals play a crucially important role of resolving disputes that would otherwise end up in courts of law. As a tribunal, you have the mandate to hear and decide disputes and bind disputants. It goes without contestation that tribunals are very important part of the legal system where the rule of law and human rights are upheld.”
She stated that the University Council holds the Appointments Board to the highest standards of justice and fairness. Nevertheless, the Council also recognizes that those who may not be satisfied with the decisions of the Board have the right to appeal to another body which is the Staff Tribunal.
She called upon the Chairperson and Members of the Tribunal to uphold the highest standards of fairness in deciding matters that are brought be for them.
“This will be critical if Makerere University realizes a credible grievance management system which has the confidence of all stakeholder’s and which can reduce of the several litigations against the University in the Court of Law,” she said