Makerere University lecturers have taken their fight for colleagues who were recently kicked out from the institution over indiscipline, absenteeism and laziness; petitioning Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to cause a committee hearing into the matter.
“In the history of Makerere University, Appointments Board had never dismissed staff the way Mr. Bruce Kabaasa’s Appointments Board did,” reads the petition to Kadaga.
On December 22, 2018, staff woke up to shocking news that 47 members of staff were dismissed, terminated or suspended.
These include two Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA) leaders suspended for acting on behalf their members and of 45 Academic Staff whom government had spent a lot of money in training to the level of Masters and PhD.
The petitioners said, “The affected staff were subjected to a sham disciplinary procedure that culminated in their suspensions, termination or dismissal. The decisions of the Appointments Board was circulated the University’s Employment Division Office on the General Staff and Academic Staff mailing lists on social media without the affected staff being communicated to.”
However, Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabus Nawangwe said “all disciplinary cases arose out of decisions of the University Appointments Board acting in accordance with Section 50 (3) & (4) of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act (UOTIA) (2001 as amended).”
Speaking at a press briefing at Makerere University, Nawangwe added: “In line with the aforementioned sections, I wish to inform the public that the majority of those cases affected are staff who absconded from duty, some as far back as 2010.”
He said the Appointments Board was, “in line with its mandate, clearing a backlog of disciplinary cases.”
However, the petitioners say the Appointments Board and the University also owe the affected staff written judgments of their cases, which should be attached to suspension, termination and dismissal letters.
“None of these was done, casting suspicions on the actual motive of Management and Council,” the petition reads in part.
But Nawangwe said all the cases were properly handled in accordance with the law and all those affected were given the opportunity for a fair hearing.
“I also wish to clarify that all aggrieved staff have the right to appeal to the Makerere University Staff Tribunal for legal redress. The Staff Tribunal provides a forum for aggrieved members of staff to be heard by an independent team of persons, led by a qualified member of the Justice Department of Uganda,” he observed.
The infighting at Makerere could see business paralysed and its image further dented.
The petitioners also want Parliament to investigate cases of land grabbing at Makerere.
The University Council established and registered Makerere University Holdings Company as an autonomous entity responsible for commercial and financial investments on the University’s behalf.
MUASA claims this has allegedly turned into a façade for mortgaging or selling University property, often to the benefit of members of Council and Management in the form of kickbacks from the sale of University properties to private businessmen.
Some of the properties that need to be investigated, according to MUASA, include Plots 34 – 36a on Prince Charles Drive, Kololo (3.79 acres) which is alleged to have been sold in December 2017.
The land was first sub-divided into several plots and sold separately to private buyers.
The petitioners further alleged Makerere University Guest House was transferred to Mak Holdings on 1st February 2016 and even though the original idea behind establishment of Mak Holding was to mandate it to take over all existing University commercial entities to enable them create more value, facilitate business growth and generate more profits, todate, there is no value added, and no proceeds have been remitted to University accounts.
They further claim part of the University land at Katalemwa along Gayaza Road has been encroached on and part of it sold off to Hariss International, a Company that produces Riham products.
“Key members of the Finance, Planning and Investment Committee of Council should be held to accountable for the sale of this land,” reads the petition.
The petitioners also want an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of internally generated funds and projects funds, procurements and public disposals of assets and the University pay roll.
They also want MPs to probe gross administrative malpractices, irregularities, widespread impunity, victimizations of students and staff, improprieties, abuse of office and conflicts of interest by the University Management, particularly Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. William Bazeyo, Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang and Prof. Mahmood Mamdani.
Makerere staff also called for a review of the provisions of the Universities and other Tertiary institutions Act that require amendments, especially focusing on the composition of Council as highlighted by the recent Visitation Committee report and the processes through which Council members, especially representatives of the public are nominated and appointed.