Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Former Makerere University Academic Staff Association-Muasa Chairman, Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi has been elected as a member of the University Council, the highest governing body of the institution.
Kamunyu who defeated Dr. Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke, a man he replaced as Muasa chairman and Associate Professor Nector Mwavu, garnered 488 out of the 810 votes that were cast representing 60.2%.
Kiggundu garnered 207 representing 25.6% and Mwavu only managed 83 votes. Also elected to as female representative to Council is Dianah Ahumuza Ateenyi who garnered 515 votes out of the 810 votes cast representing 63.6% while her competitor and incumbent Dr. Hellen Nkabala Nambalirwa managed 271 representing 33.5% percent.
Kamunyu will be succeeding Prof. Winston Tumps Ireeta who had served for two terms. The election was held across the university’s ten colleges and the Law school.
Dr. Charles Niwagaba, chairman of the Electoral Commission Muasa told URN that while some members did not vote, he was impressed with the number of those who did. Muasa is one of the constituents who vote for council representatives. The Association is represented by two individuals, one male, and one female.
Speaking to URN after winning the election, Ahumuza said her position on the council will aid in providing legal counsel as well as developing policies in the academic staff’s best interests. “I think a lawyer who has the interest of every staff can actually lobby from a point of strength and make a contribution. Every other time you see something being done and when you try to ask about these policies which are being done without changing the human resource manual, but even when Council is the policy making body, policies must be done through the appropriate process,” she added.
“We can’t be sitting in a meeting and we say how did the retirement age change, and they say Council did it without consulting us, and the manual has not changed, and then they say Council has those powers,” added Ahumuza. She made reference to a Council-passed circular that forbade lecturers from engaging in any professional activity outside of the university without first seeking approval from the university Vice-Chancellor which she objected to and provided legal advice, which led the university council to reverse its earlier decision.
“This circular that was passed in October by the Appointments Board which was to the effect that everyone who seeks to do a consultancy or any other work outside Makerere must seek authorization from the Vice-chancellor. There were many legal issues regarding that circular, so we wrote a legal opinion which we gave to the Muasa executive and the executive used it to talk to the Council, and after, the Council said it was an error because what they intended to outlaw was double employment, “she said. She believes if Muasa had a representative with a legal background, they would oppose such draconian orders.
Dr. Kamunyu equally said that his colleagues knew his competence and it didn’t take him much effort to convince them to elect him. “Since I joined Muasa, I have been articulating their positions and showing the University which issues we face, these issues have been on the salary, how they work, and the academic freedom, and the rights of those who are often undermined by the decisions that the University makes. I have been with them and I know they know what I am capable of doing,” said Kamunyu.
The University started the process of getting new Council members earlier this month when the University Secretary Yusuf Kiranda who is also the Secretary to the Council asked constituent bodies to elect or nominate their representatives.
According to Section 38 of the University and other tertiary Institutions Act, all public universities are supposed to have a University Council which consists of the Chairperson; the Vice-Chairperson, the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors; a representative of a sector relevant to the University depending on its objectives and mission appointed by the relevant body in that sector, one member of the District Council in whose jurisdiction the university is situated and a member of the Convocation.
The others are two members of the University Senate, two members of the Academic Staff, a senior member of Administrative Staff, a member of the National Union of Education Institutions; Support Staff, two students, three members appointed by the Minister from the public, three members appointed by the University Council from the public.
The other representatives include a representative of the Ministry responsible for finance; a representative of the Ministry responsible for higher education, two representatives of the constituent colleges, schools, and institutes elected by the Chairpersons of the governing councils from among themselves, and two representatives of persons with disabilities.
The current Makerere University Council led by Lorna Magara and deputized Dan Kidega assumed office in 2018