Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the chairperson Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) is set to resume his duties after completing his six month’s suspension.
Dr. Kamunyu vowed in an interview with URN never to cede to dishonesty as he returns to Makerere University, saying that academic freedoms and freedoms of expression that he was fighting for remain cardinal to him.
He maintains that his punishment was historical and has put a dent on the staff industrial relations and the university stature.
Kamunyu says he was disheartened by the way the legitimate authority in the Appointments Board handled his issue with intention to hurt him by using discipline as a cover-up to serious issues the staff were raising.
Dr. Kamunyu says he is returning strong and ready to move staff towards projects of unity, improved welfare and better working relations with reduced levels of high-handedness by management.
Dr. Kamunyu was suspended on January 17, 2019 because of animosity between staff associations at the University and the administration led by Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe that peaked with the dismissal of more than 45 senior members of academic staff, some of whom were accused of insubordination, among others.
Professor Nawangwe accused the staff leader of inciting staff and indiscipline. He further accused Kamunyu of continuing to engage in acts that amount to gross misconduct in disregard of various warnings from management.
The suspension of Kamunyu, who is also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, didn’t go down well with the staff who staged a sit down strike for more than a month, causing stalemate at the institution.
They demanded an immediate reinstatement of their leaders including Kamunyu, Bennet Magara, the chairperson of Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA), and his general secretary, Joseph Kalema, who had been suspended too for alleged indiscipline and inciting fellow staff.
Kamunyu’s suspension was briefly lifted after he ran to court. His case was later sent to the appointments board for further investigation. It is this appointments board that received, heard and ruled on five charges the academic staff leader was accused of committing and later convicted him on one.
Among other cases, Kamunyu had been accused of taking part in an illegal strike, use of abusive or insulting language, acts or omissions prejudicial to the proper performance of duties or university’s image, slander and non-adherence to any other university policies contrary to the university human resources manual.
In its ruling, the Appointments Board Disciplinary Committee declined to dismiss Kamunyu as had been requested by the university authorities to deter similar conduct among other staff in the future. It is after deliberations that the team settled for six months with half pay and any other emoluments. He was also barred from accessing his office at Makerere University.