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Staff give MUST Council 14 days ultimatum to select Vice Chancellor

MUST staffs chatting after the meeting. (PHOTO/BOB AINE)

MBARARA – Tension at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) has continued to grow as academic staff and university top management continue to bicker over the replacement of the Vice Chancellor (VC).

The latest is that the staff have given a 14-day ultimatum to the University Council to have selected a new VC or they lay down their tools.

The staff accuse the top management and challenge the manner in which the process of getting a new VC is being downplayed by a clique of some members in the top management alleged to be influenced by Prof. Celestine Obua accusing them of hatching plans to ring-fence the position and have Mr. Obua automatically re-appointed.

They also passed a resolution that the University Secretary, Mr. Melchior Byaruhanga Kihagaro steps down for investigations arguing that he was recruited fraudulently without the position being advertised when the holder of the position Mr. Mpitsi Mujuni ran away in January 2018.

This was said on Thursday, April 4, in a heated a joint Staff General Assembly which was attended by members of National Union of Educational Institution (NUEI), Mbarara University of Science and Technology Senior Administration Forum (MUSTSAF), Mbarara University of Science and Technology Academic Staff Association (MUSTASA), deans of students, deputy deans, heads of department, and members of the senate at the university hall.

The main agenda was to discuss the deliberate delays put to fail the process of getting a new  VC and set their terms.

Prof. Gad Ruzaaza encouraged staff members to remain strong even when their constitutional rights are being suppressed by the top management.

“Days of following sheepishly have long time gone those who believe in life than a matter of wealth should advise Prof Obua that he is in trouble, ” he said.

“From the evidence presented, the University Secretary who is also the accounting officer must step aside as investigations proceed for the avoidance of interference. The vice-chancellor should be retired in public interest immediately and the search committee should be empowered to start the process of searching the next vice chancellor with immediate effect, ” reads the document, in part.

“Basing on all the above we hereby give notice of laying down our tools if the University Council does not expeditiously address our demands within 14 days, ” reads the document.

It should be noted that the outgoing Vice Chancellor Prof. Obua assumed office in October 2014 to serve a term of five years which is ending this year in October. However, according to the legally prescribed process for setting up the search committee, the position of the VC and his deputies are supposed to be advertised for a calendar year and it hoped that new VC should be announced by mid-march 2019, six months before the expiry of current term office on October 24.

According to MUSTASA General Secretary, Mr. Julius Taremwa, the sitting vice-chancellor Prof Celestine Obua wants his tenure to be automatically renewed without going through the search process which is against the university policies.

“Sitting vice-chancellor has his own interests well known and he wants an automatic renewal. The process has been sabotaged and interfered which we cannot sit and watch him doing all what it takes to block the process because he doesn’t want to go due to conflict of interest, ” said Mr. Taremwa.

“MUST as an institution that writes a book called a human resource manual and with first-class professors but takes it to the Attorney General to interpret. Why should we write a document we can’t interpret?” He asked.

Prof. Obua and the University Secretary are currently in Boston, USA for a two weeks’ vacation and are returning on April, 15.

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