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ANALYSIS: Tension over Kyambogo VC

The Kyambogo University main administration block.

Varsity chairman says search will be finished in March

Tension is growing again at Kyambogo University over the delay by authorities to appoint a new Vice Chancellor. Critics and students say the failure is crippling university business.

Key members of the University Senate, the second highest decision making organ, on Jan.25 snubbed a critical meeting supposed to discuss the search for a new Vice Chancellor, missing cars, and allowances for government sponsored students. Among those who missed were acting VC, two Deputy Vice Chancellors and the University Secretary.

The search for a substantive VC, who is supposed to lead efforts to deal with these issues, has stalled since July last year. It was reignited when the university re-advertised the position a few weeks ago.

Kenneth Oloya, the representative of government sponsored students on the Senate speculated that the top officials snubbed the meeting because they probably first wanted to come up with “a harmonised position”.

There are also concerns that despite not dealing with the critical business, Senate members continue to pocket allowances. Students are wondering where the university gets the resources to always pay for allowances of more than 100 Senate members if it cannot pay for students’ allowances.

Acting VC Prof Eli Katunguka, who has served in that position for three years, was one of two candidates presented to the university council for consideration last year. But the process was halted over a technicality; the process required three not two names. Katunguka, who had emerged the better of the two for the job, is expected to apply again.

“The government should get us a VC and end this saga,” says Ronald Onzima The chairman of students sponsored by government. He said the university owes his group of 2800 students over Shs1.8 billion in unpaid allowances and he feels only a substantive VC can pay it.

Onzima says Katunguka should be barred from seeking the post because he has failed to manage students’ affairs.

But Katunguka appears unfazed.

“The process has been marred by sectarianism, hatred, malice but I will re-apply,” he told The Independent last year.

New approach needed

Meanwhile, audits of the university accounts have revealed that the previous VC search cost the university Shs500 million at a time when the university is struggling to pay lecturers. A report by the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) concluded that failure to form a “broad-based university council” is a major huddle to finding a VC.

Some experts like Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, a former Vice Chancellor at Makerere University and now proprietor of Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU), are calling on the search committee to try new approaches.

“The best approach would not even be to ask people to apply because as a search committee, you are supposed to vigorously head-hunt these candidates,” Baryamureeba told The Independent. “We are not lacking candidates, we are lacking the approach.

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