Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of lecturers at Makerere University has dismissed claims by Prof. William Bazeyo, one of the candidates vying for the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration.
It all started after Prof. Bazeyo made a presentation claiming that he negotiated with National Insurance Corporation – NIC and settled for a building as part of the compensation for an outstanding debt of Shillings 11b the insurance firm owes university staff.
Prof. Bazeyo, who is seeking to retain the office he has been occupying in acting capacity, claimed that he negotiated the deal to bring an end to the dispute between the university and NIC, which dates back to 2008.
The said building currently hosts BRAC Microfinance Uganda and NIC offices. He also claimed that during his one year in office in acting capacity, he engaged government, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance and delivered positive results. However, top university official who talked to URN on condition of anonymity and asked the reporter to drop the story, disputed the candidate’s claims.
“I am aware that NIC wrote to us but we have issues we have disagreed on previously despite their offer. I didn’t respond to it in the Main Hall because we were not given an opportunity but it is not true,” the source said. The officials of Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme- MURBS who have battling NIC over their savings declined to comment for fear of contradicting their boss.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe also declined to comment and instead referred URN to Prof. Bazeyo, who couldn’t be reached on his mobile to substantiate his claims.
Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the Makerere University Academic Staff Association – MUASA chairperson said he was unaware of such a development, saying it was never discussed in their recent Annual General Meeting – AGM. He later told URN that he has been keenly following the presentations by the candidates and what he has heard about NIC is a misrepresentation of facts.
According to information obtained by URN, MURBS and its trustees don’t demand any money from NIC since government offered to pay and tasked Makerere and the trustees to sue NIC and recover the money on its behalf. In the process, NIC offered a building during the negotiations that was rejected after it was valued and found to be a bad deal.
“To this end, MURBS doesn’t know this deal being presented and its source. If the deal is between Mak and NIC on behalf of government and has accepted the building, it has nothing to do with staff benefits or Mak as an entity,” Dr. Kamunyu said.
While pitching his motivation, Prof. Bazeyo also indicated that he had negotiated with government to clear the MURBS Arrears to the tune of Shillings 25.1 Billion.
However, MUASA chairperson couldn’t have any of this, saying Makerere University is a respected and mature community and that only facts should be a basis of their decision making.
“We should not lie to the least as academic leaders. We are far beyond falsehoods for jobs. It’s my wish that all our candidates enjoy their support based on only facts,” Dr. Kamunyu observed.
On September 8, 2016, URN broke a story where the university accounts were frozen for alleged failure to clear the retirement benefits of its former employees. Makerere was then indebted to the tune of Shillings 30bn accruing from MURBS.
Through their lawyers, M/s Arcadia Advocates, the board of trustees of MURBS sued Mak and secured an order to garnish the university accounts.
Consequently, the trustees entered an agreement to have the money cleared in installments; something that Prof. Bazeyo claimed was his achievement. But Dr. Kamunyu disagrees.
On July 1, 1996, Makerere University established a retirement saving scheme to benefit its employees. Subsequently, the Deposit Administration Plan scheme was established and a trust deed was executed. The university signed a contract with NIC on June 28, 2004 where the insurance giant was tasked to manage the scheme.
On April 1, 2009, the deposit scheme was renamed Makerere University Retirement Benefit Scheme – MURBS. Each eligible employee contributed 5% of their monthly salary while Makerere had to contribute 20% for each employee.
It is reported that NIC breached the contract by withholding vital information including statements showing the balance in the said account together with interest allocated on the account.
NIC also failed to show the administrative expenses of Makerere as stipulated under the policy. As a result, Makerere withdrew from the saving scheme on August 18, 2008.