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Opinion: UTAMU is on Track to Become the MIT of Africa

By Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba

On 6th of September 2012, I handed over the Office of Vice Chancellor to Prof. Ddumba Sssentamu as the next Vice Chancellor of Makerere University and the next day, 7th September 2012, we unveiled UTAMU to the public.  

On that day, as founder and founding Vice Chancellor, I did state that UTAMU was going to be the MIT of Africa.

So, just like Apple transformed over time to become the first company to have a net worth of US$1 trillion, UTAMU will slowly but surely transform into the MIT of Africa.

I will return to this on another day, but today I want to briefly respond to an article that has been drawn to mention titled-’’ST. Augustine University Chaos escalate as Mulenga fires Pro. Barya who in turn fires Prof. Prof. Kayanja as Chairman’’, by a senior citizen who also requested me to provide a response.

This article was published by an online newspaper this week and has been circulating on social media too.

First and foremost, the title of the article is diversionary and I think the author’s intention was to divert the readers from his identity.  This reminds me of two important quotes: 

(a) British Writer and Politician, Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), said: “The measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.”

(b) Peter Schutz, the former Chief Executive Officer of Porsche said: “Hire Character; Train Skills.”    

On 20th December 2019, the shareholders of UTAMU at a general meeting exercised their right enshrined in both the Companies Act 2012 and articles of association of UTAMU and voted by poll for the current Board of Directors of UTAMU for which I am Chairman.

Shareholders who were then in University Management headed by then Prof. Benon C Basheka (Former Vice Chancellor UTAMU) petitioned the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and URSB in its ruling dated 7th May 2019 dismissed the petition and re-confirmed the Board of Directors.

Not satisfied by the ruling of URSB, Prof. Basheka in his capacity as Vice Chancellor of UTAMU petitioned National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) to intervene.

The NCHE set up an independent committee that came up with UTAMU mediation agreed that was signed on 3rd July 2019 by the Chairperson of the Board of Directors on behalf of the Board of Directors, the Chairperson of Council UTAMU Council on behalf of Council and the Vice Chancellor on behalf of UTAMU Management and this agreement was witnessed by the Executive Director NCHE.

UTAMU mediation agreement among others provided for: The Board of Directors shall appoint 80% of the University Council; A member of the Board of Directors or shareholder of UTAMU shall not be a member of the University Council or University Management; and a member of the Board of Directors or shareholder may be employed at the University like any private person with no privileges of being a shareholder or Board member and shall submit to the full authority of the University Council.

Kayanja Exit

At an Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 9th August 2019 and attended by representatives of URSB and NCHE, it was resolved that the University Council be dissolved with immediate effect since the majority of the members were shareholders.

So, the University Council was dissolved by the AGM and Prof. Kayanja happened to be the Chairperson of Council then.  

Prof. Kayanja was not fired as alleged but happened to be a member of the council that was dissolved.

A new UTAMU Council was put in place in accordance with the mediation agreement and statutes of UTAMU and Dr. Annet Nabatanzi Muyimba was appointed Chairperson.  

Dr. Nabatanzi serves as the Dean of the Faculty of Management and Public Policy at MUBS and all the other members are distinguished individuals in their own right.

The UTAMU AGM of 9th August 2019 also resolved that the contract of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Basheka be terminated before 31st August 2019 and Council did terminate his contract on 30th August 2019 with one month payment in lieu of notice.

The AGM also resolved that the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Jude Lubega’s contract be terminated with notice before 8th January 2020 and for the rest of the shareholders in management their contracts be terminated before 9th August 2020.

By 31st December 2019, the exercise of ensuring that there was no shareholder in UTAMU management had been completed by the University Council.

With exception of Prof. Lubega, all the other members of management whose contracts were terminated where still working fulltime at Makerere University. So, it is not true to allege that they left UTAMU and went back to Makerere University.

 Employer

UTAMU is an equal opportunity employer. So, in October 2020, UTAMU Council advertised in New Vision and the East African Newspaper among others for the positions of Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor.

A Search Committee chaired by the eminent Prof. Elly N Sabiiti received applications from applicants from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia among others.

The search committee assessed the shortlisted candidates and Prof. Yusuf Sadiq emerged as the best candidate and was recommended to council with other two candidates and Council upheld the recommendation of the search committee and he was appointed Vice Chancellor of UTAMU with effect from 6th November 2019.

At the time of application for the position of Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sadiq was working fulltime on a project to set up a private tertiary institution for a Kampala based private hospital.

As much as UTAMU is an equal opportunity employer and recruits even employees working with other organisation, it is not true that he was snatched from St. Augustine International University as the article alleges.

Also, on 15th May 2019, I personally resigned from the position of Chairperson of Council of St. Augustine International University due to my heavy consultancy engagements outside the country and I was not fired as alleged in the article.

I also served my two statutory terms as Chairperson of Uganda Business and Technical Examinations (UBEB) and handed over to Dr. Silver Mugisha, the Managing Director of NWSC. So, what is being alleged in the article about UBTEB is not true.

Also, as regards, Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and my chairpersonship this information is in the public domain and so I don’t want to repeat it in this article.  

 Ssekitto

In the article its alleged that Mr. Baker Sssekitto also had left UTAMU.  It is true that the University Council in October 2019 refused to renew the contract of Mr. Ssekitto but allowed him to serve up to the end of the year, i.e. 31st December 2019.

As a result of the departure of Mr. Ssekitto, UTAMU recruited a Director of Finance and Administration, Ms. Assumpta Mary Nabachwa Muweera, a professional accountant and HR professional with an excellent managerial record spanning many years.  

Furthermore, School Registrar is an entry position at UTAMU and I will not comment on a Registrar that recently left UTAMU for another and was replaced by an equally competent person.

Let me state that even the other shareholders who left management were replaced by equally competent academics.

For instance, Prof. Jude Lubega was succeeded by Professor Johnnie Wycliffe Frank Muwanga-Zake as Deputy Vice Chancellor of UTAMU.

Prof. Zake is a well-schooled international scholar with a working career spanning several countries including UK, Australia and South Africa.  UTAMU continues to be an employer of choice.

 Basheka

It is falsely alleged in the article that I begged Prof. Basheka to leave Uganda Management Institute (UMI) and join UTAMU.

Prof. Basheka sent me an email application in 2013 requesting to be appointed a Professor at UTAMU. I did not know him before then. So, we did process his application and gave him an offer without doing a background check.  We later learnt that at the time of his application to UTAMU, he had already been dismissed by UMI.

Lastly, as a matter of fact, I founded UTAMU and invited my colleagues mainly at Makerere University to join me.

I am a (simple) majority shareholder in UTAMU and there is no way I can ever do anything that is not in the best interest of UTAMU.

So, what is alleged that Prof. Baryamureeba was whistleblower for NCHE etc. is total nonsense.

It is often said that what would ultimately destroy a man going to high places in life is not really the enemies that are waiting for him there, but the character that followed him there. Good luck to the author of the false and malicious article.

The author is the Chairman Board of Directors, UTAMU 

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