KAMPALA: Prof Waswa Balunywa’s reappointment as the principal of Makerere University Business School came as a result of behind-the-scenes protracted talks with President Museveni, PML Daily can exclusively report.
On Monday, President Museveni directed the Education minister, Janet Museveni to re-appoint Prof Balunywa to the position he has held since 1997.
“His institution has been free of strike. I have never found him averse to the advice the times I have interacted with him, such a person is always good to work with,” the President’s May 28 directive reads in part.
And now highly placed sources in State House have told this website that Prof Balunywa’s re-appointment came after he personally met the President at State House in April. It is said the beleaguered professor sought the President’s intervention after he realized that Janet Museveni was against his re-appointment and had directed the Education Service Commission to begin on a process of appointing Balunywa’s successor.
Sources said since Janet’s appointment to the Education docket, she had been displeased with Prof Balunywa’s conduct at MUBS. It is said the strained relations between the two came to a head with the tuition fees wrangle between MUBS and its parent institution, Makerere University. It was reported in the press that Makerere had refused to include thousands of MUBS students on the February 2018 graduation list because of tuition arrears MUBS had collected but refused to remit to mother campus.
However, sources added that attempts by the First Lady to reach out to Prof Balunywa and solve the impasse were futile, with Balunywa allegedly not cooperating with Higher Education State minister Dr Chrysostom Muyingo. Sources said Dr Muyingo, on instructions of Janet, first sought a meeting with Prof Balunywa but the latter shunned the meeting and claimed that he was busy. This prompted the First Lady to work with Prof Moses Muhwezi, his deputy to resolve the fees impasse.
Sources added that from this incident, the First Lady interested herself in the affairs of MUBS and sent undercover officials to investigate the activities of Prof Balunywa. Meanwhile in the ministry archives, the Education minister landed on past dossiers, implicating Prof Balunywa in the mismanagement of the institution.
The undercover investigation team is said to have reported to the minister that Prof Balunywa was never at the institution most of the time and that most of the work was being done by his deputy, Prof Muhwezi.
“He was reported to be doing consultancy work all the time and instead delegated most of the work to his deputy. Even most administrators at MUBS reported of his absence most of the time,” the source said.
It should be remembered that Prof Balunywa has been Museveni’s blue-eyed man since he joined MUBS. Even previous attempts not to renew his contract as principal always fell flat. Whenever, there was a function at MUBS, Museveni always attended praise and heaped praise on him.
However, this did not deter the First Lady, who sources said, was determined to get rid of him.
Consequently, on April 11, 2018, Ms Museveni wrote to the chairman Education Service Commission, Hajji Lubega Waggwa, saying the position of MUBS Principal should be advertised as soon as the Education ministry Permanent Secretary avails to the Commission the specifications for the job.
“The purpose of this letter is to request you that Education Service Commission finalizes the process of appointment of the next principal of MUBS before the contract of the current one expires to avoid a leadership vacuum,” the First Lady’s letter read in part.
The First Lady’s letter also prompted MUBS council chairman. Prof Venancius Baryamureeba, to retract his earlier March 5 letter to the Education Service Commission, in which he had indicated that Balunywa was suitable for the job. In the new May 5, Prof Baryamureeba pointed out that whereas the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act sets 60 as the maximum age at which one can serve as Principal, Balunywa was already 63 making him clearly ineligible.
This is the reason why Prof Balunywa last week accused Baryamureeba of attempting to take over the position. Prof Balunywa on Thursday issued a blistering dossier about poor management practices at the school that he blamed on Prof Baryamureeba. He also accused him of nursing ambitions of taking over the leadership of the business school; now touted as one of the finest in Africa.
Realising that odds were against him, Prof Balunywa then sought a meeting with the President last month through Bukedea Woman MP Anita Among, who was a former lecturer at MUBS.
Sources were unable to reveal what transpired in the meeting but after it, President Museveni wrote to Janet on April 29, saying he had no objection to Prof Balunywa’s re-appointment.
“Since Prof Balunywa is a serious implementer of programmes and a serious educationist whose institution has never seen part of the indiscipline of strikes, etc, I have no objection to his re-appointment if all other factors are in order,” Mr Museveni’s letter reads in part.
However, sources said, on learning that MUBS Council was bent on not re-appointing Balunywa, Museveni followed up the matter with the latest May 28 letter, directing that the re-appointment be effected.
Prof Balunywa’s tenure has been dominated by several fights, with several accusations of managing the institution like his own home.
He has been accused of ruling the institution with an iron hand and suppressing any dissenting staff about his work methods.
He fell out with Prof James Akampulira, Dr Julius Kakuru and then Prof Samuel Sejaka, who were seen as potential successors to him.
Balunywa was in 2014 dragged to court over uttering false documents, forgery and embezzlement by a lawyer Isaac Kimeze Ssemakadde. Ssemakadde claimed that Balunywa, using various pseudo names of Balunywa JMA Waswa alias Juma J Balunywa alias Juma Waswa Balunywa, committed various acts of fraud while serving at Makerere University and later on at Mubs.
Ssemakadde further alleged that Balunywa, being a public officer, unlawfully authorized expenditure of Shs 32m for the [medical] treatment of his mother in India yet he knew this would cause financial loss to the government.
The MUBS principal was also accused of embezzlement.
“That the accused, being a public officer employed as principal and accounting officer of Makerere University Business School, on various dates between January and December 2006 stole Shs 10,000,000, a property of MUBS,” Ssemakadde claimed.
Balunywa was also accused of flouting procurement procedures when he contracted his personal enterprise named Maya farm to supply pineapples, eggs and potatoes to MUBS. When it comes up for hearing on June 11, the Director of Public Prosecutions is expected to take over prosecution of the case. Balunywa could also be committed to the Anti-Corruption court for a criminal trial.
In 2010, the IGG recommended that Balunywa be sacked because he was wrongly appointed for a job he is not qualified for. In a January 6 report, the acting IGG, Raphael Baku, said under section 83 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001, only the Education Service Commission (ESC) has the authority to appoint the principal of a public tertiary institution. Balunywa was appointed by the Minister of Education. The report also said that at the time Balunywa was appointed, he did not have a doctorate degree (PhD) as required of a holder of that position. Balunywa enrolled for his doctorate in 2000 at the University of Stirling in Scotland but he has not yet graduated.