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Lawyer, Nawangwe Clash on Probe Committee

FILE PHOTO: Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has disagreed with his critics over the appointment of a team to investigate the conduct of Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the Chairperson Makerere University Academic Staff Association – MUASA.

Last week, Prof. Nawangwe appointed a three man committee to investigate the conduct of Dr. Kamunyu and report back to his office. It came after Prof. Nawangwe suspended Dr. Kamunyu and several others for alleged misconduct and inciting staff.

The appointment of the committee didn’t go down well with several staffs and Isaac Ssemakadde, the legal representative of the suspended officials who cited conflict of interest.

“It can’t be the complainant to abuse the power of his office to set up a committee that will try the person he is complaining against,” Counsel Ssemakadde says.

He observes that the Vice Chancellor should have complained to the department where Dr. Kamunyu ordinarily works to set up a committee to avoid bias.

But Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe says he is operating within the law. He says Makerere University Human Resources Manual requires him as CEO to establish a committee to investigate Dr. Kamunyu in respect to his terms of employment.

Dr. Kamunyu was suspended on January 17, 2019 but letters appointing the committee were issued on January 24. Ssemakadde observes that this is an illegality because his client was suspended without investigations.

Section 62 [4] and section 63 [2] of the Employment Act provides that an employee shall not be suspended unless there has been established a committee of inquiry.

Prof. Nawangwe also disagrees with Ssemakadde on the duration of the investigations. He advises the lawyer to read the entire law, which gives exceptions especially in cases where matters under investigation are ‘grave in nature.’

Despite the on-going debate on the legality and independence of the committee, Dr. Kamunyu confirmed to URN that he had already received summons to appear.

“I received my summons to appear before the Committee on Friday at 2:30pm. Like I said, I will appear. Remember that this is an investigative committee and those who often blame for being legalistic should understand. I will always say that whatever is lawful is also good for us all,” Dr. Kamunyu said.

He urged staff to remain united and defend their freedom of expression and diversity. “I knew that there were such consequences but I believe that God will see us through. I may not die while on half pay but for me, I’m dead without integrity and a free conscious,” Dr. Kamunyu said.

Adding that; “In this struggle, the Winner will be Integrity and Freedom of Expression, which I believe are the very tenets that we are called to defend. They too define your constitution that I swore to uphold.”

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