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Mamdani-Nyanzi Saga Starts and Ends with Insubordination

Let me return to the Makerere University PhD programme hosted at MISR. First of all, the student numbers per intake on this programme are few and there is very little load in terms of marking. All the assessments are research based. Why would a research fellow with a PhD not want to participate in such a PhD programme?

In all functional educational and research institutions, Deans of Schools/ Faculties and Directors of Research Institutes are delegated powers to allocate a workload to their staff and supervise them. It is apparent Dr. Stella Nyanzi refused to take on the workload allocated to her by her supervisor which tantamounts to abscondment from duty and insubordination. The appropriate university organs should have taken appropriate action when this became evident since the Human Resources Manual is very clear on cases of insubordination and abscondment from duty. It appears this has never taken place hold her accountable for neglecting her assigned duties.

No doubt the PhD programme at MISR has not only brought research grants but also raised the profile of Makerere University and it’s both critical and important that everybody focuses on the bigger picture of graduating the PhD students on this programme. As much as the first intake has reached 5th year and is about to graduate there are several other intakes that followed which need to be followed through. The architect of this PhD programme is Prof. Mamdani and it is important that Makerere University weighs the consequences of not renewing his contract. My opinion is that Makerere University renews his contract with a condition that he takes one or two deputy directors who can understudy him and continue with this good initiative once his contract of five years expires. We must remember that the PhD programme is not a Ugandan programme but a global one as students are recruited from across the globe. So it strongly contributes to Makerere University’s academic standing.

Some people may be wondering why I am writing this article. The last time I wrote a critical article about the affairs at Makerere University was when the University was planning to raise staff salaries by 70% from internally generated funds. I said that Makerere University would be committing suicide if it followed through with the proposal. It did and the consequences are visible to everybody; the University has failed to pay the 70% salary incentive and it’s in arrears of more than 6 months.
In addition to being an alumnus of Makerere University, I spent my formative years at Makerere University where I rose through the ranks until I served as Vice Chancellor until September 2012.

I have a lot to lose if Makerere University goes down. At this point in time, truth be told Makerere University needs Prof. Mamdani at the helm of MISR to see the PhD programme accomplish its objectives. Dr. Stella Nyanzi may have personal issues with Prof. Mamdani but this cannot stop her from undertaking her duties. She must understand that MISR has an Executive Director as head where she works as a Research Fellow. So she must show respect to the Executive Director otherwise we have institutional breakdown.  Prof. Mamdani needs the support of management including the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ddumba if he is to succeed with the Makerere University PhD programme hosted at MISR and also be able to spearhead the broader mandate of MISR as a centre of research excellence. University Human Resources Manual has enough provisions to enable the Appointments Board to resolve not only the current impasse but the root cause of the problem.

Under the current circumstances, Makerere University needs to move faster and renew Prof. Mamdani’s contract in order to build confidence in the donors of Makerere University especially those supporting MISR, the staff and students participating in the PHD programme. Otherwise there is a lot at stake and Makerere University needs to act fast. Don’t say I never told you.

** The author is a former Uganda Presidential candidate and former Vice Chancellor of Makerere University.

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