Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University managers are not contented with the decision of the university appointments board, suspending Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi for six months on half pay.
Through the university legal directorate, the university management has cross appealed the Board decision at the Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal, citing that the sentence was lenient and ought to be increased.
On May 13th this year, Dr. Dr. Deus Kamunyu being dissatisfied with the decision of the Appointments Board to suspend him for six months on half pay appealed against the said decision to the Makerere university staff tribunal, a quasi-judicial dispute resolution court.
His lawyers Byarugaba & Co. Advocates pointed that the Appointment’s Board erred both in law and fact in relying upon prosecution evidence that supported alleged offence(s) for which the staff leader was not charged with hence reaching a wrong decision.
They also contend that the Appointment’s Board erred in law and fact in relying upon insufficient evidence to convict Dr. Kamunyu for the alleged disciplinary offence(s).
Kamunyu was initially charged with five counts including taking part in an illegal strike, use of abusive language, acts or omissions that are prejudicial to the proper performance of duties or the university’s image, and slander.
He was however acquitted on all other offences except non-adherence to any other university policies, a charge whose nature lawyers say was ambiguous and unsustainable in law.
The lawyers also fault the Board of convicting for an alleged offence without according him a fair hearing. They have prayed to the Tribunal to quash the ruling and orders of the Appointments Board as well as payment of costs to the staff leader on the appeal and before the Appointments Board.
Now, before the Tribunal could resume its work, after nearly five months without sitting due to lack of quorum, the university through its lawyers Henry Mwebe contend that they brought sufficient evidence and witnesses to prove all the charges against Dr. Kamunyu and he ought to have been convicted on all counts and given a higher sentence.
Makerere through its lawyers has denied the allegations in Kamunyu’s appeal and avers that all the grounds of appeal have no merit.
They contend that Kamunyu, having fully participated in the hearing, had legal representation and was given an opportunity to cross examine all the prosecution witnesses on their evidence was therefore accorded a fair hearing and thus never suffered any miscarriage of justice as he was fully aware of the charges brought against him and evidence in support.
The university lawyers have asked the Staff Appeals Tribunal to re-evaluate the evidence on record and find Dr. Kamunyu guilty of four counts for which he was acquitted by the appointments board, convict him accordingly and dismiss him from university service.
Kamunyu’s lawyer Felix Ampaire says they are surprised by Makerere University appealing against its own decision. He says the decision of the Disciplinary Committee of the University Appointments Board was unfair to their client, which prompted their appeal against it.
He says it is surprising to find that the university managers seek to challenge the decision of their employing arm, the Appointments Board but cited they would await the tribunal’s decision.
Ampaire acknowledges that they were served by the university lawyers in their cross appeal seeking the dismissal of Kamunyu but noted they were ready to ‘actively participate’ in the proceedings of the tribunal to have their client reinstated.
Dr. Kamunyu is a senior lecturer of the University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences –CAES whose two-year term as the substantive chairperson of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association –MUASA was cut shot following his suspension in January this year.
He was suspended after he allegedly disobeyed warnings of the Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, after he continuously voiced staff grievances that included bias and unfair decisions by the Appointments Board, and accountability of the institution.
Kamunyu’s January suspension caused nearly a month-long stalemate at the country’s high ranking academic institution of higher learning prompting the High Court and University Council’s intervention which saw his initial suspension lifted in March. He was then to face the disciplinary committee that sentenced him to six months’ suspension with half pay.