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Mak staff accuse Nawangwe of bias

FILE PHOTO: Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Staff at Makerere University have expressed concern over the manner in which the Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe has handled issues relating to the staff appeals tribunal.

The staff accuses Nawangwe of delaying tactics in frustrating efforts to have the staff appeals tribunal fully constituted.

The complaints arise, more than a month after he blocked the swearing-in of two staff representatives to the university tribunal citing that he had received a petition challenging their nomination.

The two law dons Dr Phiona Muhwezi Mpanga, and Associate Prof. Ronald Kakungulu-Mayambala had been unanimously nominated to the tribunal by the General Assembly in June by the staff under their umbrella body Makerere University Academic Staff Association –MUASA.

Staff Appeals Tribunal is a quasi-judicial organ that 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, a level or qualified to be a Judge.

Through the Tribunal, aggrieved members of staff get a right to a fair hearing and appropriate redress, without hindrances from the university system. The Tribunal also serves as a system of checks and balances for the Appointments Board.

Professor Nawangwe says he received a petition by Edison Ireeta Munanura, an assistant lecturer in the department of Pharmacy and Dickson Kanakulya, a lecturer in the department of Philosophy both members of the MUASA on June 21st 2019.

“In my capacity as the Chief Executive of the University, responsible for all academic, financial and administrative matters of the university, I sought legal advice from the Director Legal Affairs, with a view to establish the merits and demerits of the petition,” Nawangwe says in a July 31st letter to the chairperson of Council Lorna Magara.

“I sought this advice because, while management would not wish to interfere in matters off staff associations, the petition was against a process leading to the membership of a University organ, which is expected to be above any doubt about its integrity, and also ensure the integrity of the university generally and harmony therein,” he added.

According to Professor Nawangwe, he received a legal opinion, from the university directorate of legal affairs, a month later, which he has decided to forward to the university council’s Legal, Rules and Privileges Committee for hearing and determination.

Two senior academic staff, who requested not to be disclosed, says they have been waiting for the tribunal’s composition in vain. They say their cases have stalled at the tribunal due to lack of quorum.

They also argue that there are serious anomalies with the “so-called petition” and the Vice Chancellor’s intervention.

“Both the petition and the VC’s intervention were made before the results and the resolutions of the EGA [Emergency General Assembly] were communicated. What then did they base on? This was a clear case of actions taken bad faith,” an aggrieved staff told URN.

Adding that; “As per the MUASA constitution which governs the petition against Muasa elections, such petitions are supposed to be addressed to the Chair of Muasa electoral commission, not the VC, and it must and to be legitimate, the petitioners need to be supported by at least 30 members. The EGA ended after 6 pm. The petition was drafted and presented to the VC and the VC intervened the next day? At what time did they get the required number of supporters? Remember, no one has seen the very petition. Again, this was a clear case of bad faith.”

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