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How IGG probe cost Professor Joloba Mak principal’s job

FILE PHOTO: Professor Joloba

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is a leadership vacuum at the College of Health Sciences in Makerere University following the decision by the university council not to approve Professor Damalie Nakanjako as the College Principal. It came after 33 staff from the college petitioned the council challenging criteria used by the search committee to recommend Professor Damalie Nakanjako for appointment as college head. Professor Damalie Nakanjako scored 76.2% against 77.3% scored by her rival, Professor Moses Joloba.

A Principal is a senior management position in the University structure and is an academic and administrative head of the College answerable to the Vice Chancellor. The principal is responsible for promoting and maintaining academic excellence, management efficiency and good order of the College. Once appointed to the office, one holds it for a term of four years.

Despite scoring highly, the search committee, declined to recommend Professor Moses Joloba for appointment on grounds that there were several complaints against him. However, the committee noted that there was no conclusive report on the status of the complaints as well as disciplinary action by either management or Appointments Board.

The committee decision enraged staff in the College of Health Sciences arguing that Professor Moses Joloba was irregularly disqualified on the basis of an irregular senate vote since he was investigated by the Inspectorate of Government-IG.

This according to College staff is something that the search committee misinterpreted to mean lack of integrity, yet the same yard stick was not applied to the recommended candidate for the same post at CoBAMS (College of Business and Management Sciences), even when the said candidate was never convicted of any wrong doing and has never been brought before any disciplinary committee of Makerere University nor to a competent court of law reads part of the petition.

They further argue that the search committee disregarded the law on presumption of innocence until proven guilty. “We find this to be very disheartening and demoralizing given this candidate’s significant contribution to administrative, academic, research and capacity building initiatives at the CHS, the staff argue in their petition. In the on-going Court case challenging the appointment of Professor William Bazeyo as the substantive Deputy Vice Chancellor, High Court pronounced itself in the matter of the Senate’s irrational and emotional decisions that are not based on the law.

URN set out to find out the complaints that cost Professor Joloba the job. On February 7, 2020, Andrew Abunyang, the Director Human Resources released a report detailing information on disciplinary records of the candidates that had been shortlisted for the jobs of Principal and Deputy Principal. The report followed a review of the employment files of each candidate. According to information on File number 0231/10/088, Professor Moses Joloba was investigated by the IG for alleged abuse of office and financial impropriety.

In one of the complaints lodged on September 28, 2011 addressed to the Vice Chancellor, the IG sought to access personal files of three University employees, one of whom was Professor Joloba (then an Associate Professor). Records show that the then Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor, Venansius Baryamureeba granted access to the files on October 28, 2011.

Although the letter from the IG didn’t specify the subject of the investigations, URN has since established that the IG released a report on February 8, 2019. A copy was submitted to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe and copied to the Education and Sports Minister, the University Council chairperson Lorna Magara and Professor Charles Ibingira, the Principal CHS.

The IG recommended that Professor Joloba resigns from either the position of lecturer at Makerere University or Director Supra National Reference Laboratory, which is the second supranational tuberculosis reference lab in Africa, the first being in South Africa. URN accessed a copy of the IGG’s report indicating that the Professor of Molecular Biology, Immunology and Microbiology was drawing two salaries from two government entities, making him a candidate for abuse of office and financial impropriety.

How it Came About  

Professor Joloba was first appointed lecturer at Makerere University in 1997 in now the Department of Medical Microbiology, School of Biomedical sciences.  In 2004, he was appointed to head the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory (NTRL). However, the letter didn’t the salary he would earn. On April 13, 2017, Professor Joloba was offered an appointment on contract as director Supra National TB Reference Laboratory (SRL) for a period of 24 months, effective November 1, 2015. The contract was renewable subject to performance and availability of funds.

The appointment was issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health entitling Professor Joloba to a monthly gross pay of Shillings 11.7 Million and 10% of gross salary remittance to NSSF as employer’s contribution. On October 10, 2017, Professor Joloba’s contract was renewed for another 24 months effective November 1, 2017 under the same terms.  During investigations by the IG, remuneration payment vouchers for Supra National TB Reference Laboratory confirmed that the staffer earned a monthly salary, contrary to provisions of Section 14 of the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, 2010.

However, on March 14th, 2019, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe wrote to the Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Diana Atwine exonerating Professor Joloba. He dismissed the findings of the IG indicating that Professor Joloba was holding two positions in two government institutions and therefore drawing two salaries. However, Justice Irene Mulyagonja Kakooza, the former IGG insisted that it wasn’t right to substitute the word “salary” for “allowance” in Professor Moses Joloba’s appointment letter and remuneration vouchers.

“The facts prove to us that Professor Moses Joloba earns a salary from Makerere University and at the same time from SRL, a project funded by ECSA HC under the Ministry of Health. If Professor Joloba’s contract as Director SRL entitles him to only allowances, then Ministry of Health should have stated so. But as it is now, his appointment letter states that he earns a salary,” says Justice Mulyagonja, in her April 25, 2019 letter to Makerere Vice Chancellor.

URN has since learnt that Professor Joloba’s salary as Director SRL is drawn from the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA HC) sub-grant of 2015 Global Fund. On August 30, 2016, ECSA HC entered an o agreement with Uganda, represented by Ministry of Health and committed to provide US$3.7M (approximately Shillings 13.7B) for supporting the Uganda SRL and other countries to improve TB diagnosis in the ECSA region.

After a series of correspondences, it was clarified that Professor Joloba was engaged on part-time basis (45% level of effort) to spearhead the SRL project, because of his skills, expertise and the critical role he played in winning the Global Fund Grant, which earned him an allowance and not a salary.

Another related complaint against Professor Joloba was irregular transfer of the BACTEC MGIT 960 instrument, a fully automated, non-radiometric instrument, designed for rapid detection growth of mycobacteria to the School of Biomedical Sciences in Mulago.  The machine had been procured for the Tuberculosis Lab. However, the IGG was told, while as a Director, Professor Joloba transferred the machine, for lack of space at the labs in Wandegeya.

The complaint was cleared after clarification.  The IGG also shows that Professor Joloba together with Dr. David Patrick Kateete, both employees of Makerere University incorporated  M/S Medical and Molecular Laboratories Ltd (MML) with the key objective of supporting research.  The company entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) on December 15, 2015.

The said MoU conferred upon the company, the right to use the college labs for research work, enter into independent agreements with other parties on the use of the laboratories and use the proceeds for promoting medical research.  Investigations by the IGG found this contradictory to the Finance Procedures Manual, 2014 on the university whose section 4.3 stated that “All revenues generated by University activities and all expenditure for goods and services must be recorded and accounted for within the University’s accounting system.”

The report shows that the actions of the two officers amounted to conflict of interest contrary to provisions of section 5.1 (g) of the Makerere University Human Resources Manual. The IGG recommended that the university revokes the MOU.  The College has since commenced a process of transforming MML activities into a Centre of Excellence upon recommendation by the School of Biomedical Sciences to spearhead the Resource Mobilisation and Management.

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