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Makerere Legal Director throws in towel

Mwebe has quit

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Henry Mwebe, the controversial Legal Director of Makerere University, has resigned from office. Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe has confirmed Mwebe’s resignation. “He has given notice of resignation,” he said.

It is still unclear why Mwebe threw in the towel but sources indicate that he could have secured a job with an International development agency. Mwebe has been responsible for providing legal advice to the University Council, Management and other University organs when it comes to drafting agreements, contracts, memoranda and other legal documents.

Reports show that Mwebe quietly handed over office to his junior, Hudson Musoke early this month after clearing his desk. Sources claim that before Mwebe handed over office to Musoke, he notified his staff that was going on leave for a month ending in March this year.     However, the University Appointments Board heard from officials from the Legal Directorate on Tuesday February 18, 2020 that Mwebe deleted everything from his office computer before he left leaving no trace.

Jolly Uzamukunda Karabaaya, the Commissioner for Higher Education and Training in the Education and Sports Minister could neither confirm nor deny the development since she hadn’t received an official resignation letter. “Until I get the letter of his resignation, I can’t be able to confirm or deny. Besides, while a worker can express his or her interest to resign, the employer which is Council has to accept it. So as far as I am concerned, he is still a member of staff,” Uzamukunda told URN.

Section 16.2 of the 2009 Makerere Human Resources Manual provides for Voluntary Termination by giving a duly written and signed resignation notice. It states that all notices of resignations (other than the Vice‐Chancellor and the Deputy Vice‐Chancellors whose resignation notices shall be addressed to the Chancellor through the Chairperson of Council), shall be addressed to the Director, Human Resources through their supervisors and forwarded to the appointing authority for consideration and appropriate decision.

While appearing before the Professor Noble Banadda- contracts committee early this month, Hudson Musoke introduced himself as the acting Director Legal Affairs.

According to the University Management Structure, as the Director Legal Affairs, Mwebe was expected to provide clear oral and written interpretation of laws and other statutory instruments relating to the University, ensure and facilitate the University’s compliance with the set policies, regulations and guidelines governing staff and students of the University.

Mwebe joined Makerere University on April 16th 2018, having been officially appointed substantive Director of Legal Affairs on April 6th on a five-year contract. He replaced Canon Goddy Muhanguzi Muhumuza, who served as Acting Director for two years and five months. During Mwebe’s term of office, his legal guidance to the University management triggered clashes between staff and students against management.

In February 2019, he advised the Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe to suspend the leader of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) and Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi contrary to the legal opinion by the law school.

Between February 9 and 13, 2019, Mwebe wrote on the WhatsApp group of the staff of Makerere Directorate of Legal Affairs (MAK DLA) describing the legal opinions offered by the law dons as laughable, embarrassing and stupid.  The Legal Directorate ridiculed two legal opinions by law dons prior to the indefinite closure of the Law School by the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.  It is in this conversation that a plan to shut the law school was mooted.

It was in the course of the discussion that Prof Nawangwe authored a 7-page report recommending the indefinite closure of the School of Law.  Nawangwe observed the standoff at the university had remained predominant in the School of Law where the school leadership has “openly declared leadership of the acts of defiance.”  Mwebe’s resignation comes at a time Makerere University is battling close to 100 cases in courts of law and 20 others in Makerere Staff Tribunal.

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