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PAC queries irregular recruitments at Gulu university

PAC chairperson Medard Sseggona.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee-PAC Central Government has grilled Gulu University management over irregularities in staff recruitment.

The University management led by Vice Chancellor Prof. George Openjuru, on Thursday appeared before the committee to respond to a forensic investigation report into the mismanagement of the institution for the financial years 2016/2017 to 2018/2019.

The audit report by the Auditor General, John Muwanga highlighted irregular staff recruitments, promotions, and contract extensions among others.

“I noted that 29 staff were initially recruited as temporary staff and later offered 6 months contracts, and subsequently confirmed as permanent staff by ratification by the Appointments Board and Council respectively,” reads part of the audit report.

According to Muwanga, the recruitment was contrary to the institution’s human resource manual, which provides for temporary employment for one more term not exceeding six months.

He also reveals that the recruitment was undertaken without any formal interviews of staff, contrary to the procedures for internally recommended staff. Muwanga says that although the staff has the requisite academic qualifications for the positions, there was no due diligence done for all temporary recruitments.

“In an interview, the Human Resources Director, Safina Naggayi, confirmed that there were no adverts for the temporary appointments and they would rely on the staff performance appraisals to change status from temporary to permanent,” Muwanga noted.

The staff in question were appointed in positions like assistant lecturer, graduate trainee, lecturer, office attendant, associate professor, professor, assistant planning officer, librarian, and security guard.

Medard Lubega Sseggona, the PAC chairperson asked how the recruited staff had been identified, Prof. Openjuru said that these are usually identified by the deans.

“For temporary appointments, due diligence is not applicable. However, the recommendations from the head of the department and performance appraisal report are used to assess the suitability of the applicant. Atim Grace Okeny’s appointment was occasioned by the demand by the Law Council to increase the number of teaching staff level at the faculty of law,” Openjuru said.

Openjuru added temporary appointments are usually under emergencies for a period not exceeding six months.

However, Sseggona said that lack of competition shields transparency in recruitment and directed that the university avails correspondence from the Law Council regarding the increase of staff. He also demanded correspondence from different university departments and faculties recommending the recruitment of particular people and the recommenders.

Sseggona dismissed a submission by Christine Cakuru, the University’s Senior Human Resource Officer in which she explained that the recruitment of Robinson Omony in the Department of Physics with no advertisement and formal interview as a graduate trainee was at a time when all three physics lecturers got scholarships to study abroad.

Sseggona said that going for further studies was not an emergency, since scholarships follow a process and management should have known when the staff were to exit and prepare accordingly.

The forensic audit of Gulu University was directed in January 2020 by the Public Accounts Committee.

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