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MBARARA University staff vote to begin strike

MUST’s VC Prof. Obua Celestine in his office. (PML Daily PHOTO)

MBARARA – About 160 teaching and non-teaching staff at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) on Thursday, May 2 voted to go on strike protesting failure by the University Council to heed to their concerns of mismanaging the public institution.

According to the staff, the University Council has ignored their concerns raised against the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Celestino Obua, whom they accuse of financial mismanagement, staff harassment and intimidation, suffocating operations of the grants office and disregarding policy on staff training and development.

He is also being accused of flouting university transport policy, not heeding council directives, influence peddling and flouting procurement and disposal guidelines, absence from duty and providing wrong information to the university council.

During, an emergency general assembly at Main Lecture Theatre on Thursday, the staff under Mbarara University of Science Technology Academic Staff Association (MUSTASA) vowed not to return to work until their grievances are addressed.

“Today we have officially laid down our tools as workers of MUST. Our reasons are very simple; we have been with many issues and challenges which we forwarded to council and council has refused to act. On April 1 we had general assembly and we had four resolutions, we gave them 14 days to act but they refused to act, we gave them more 14 days, no answer; so today we effect resolution number five of laying down our tools until they adhere to our recommendations,” Mr Julius Taremwa, general secretary MUSTASA said at the assembly.

In the April 4 petition, the staff gave the following recommendations: that council carries out a forensic audit and that the university secretary steps aside as investigations proceed for avoidance of interference, and an extraordinary joint meeting of university council members, Senate, staff and student representatives be urgently convened to seek harmony, restore sanity and credibility of the institution.

The fourth recommendation was that Prof. Obua 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.

The fifth recommendation read, “Basing on all the above, we hereby give notice of laying down our tools within 14 days, if the university council does not expeditiously address our demand.”

The Chairman University Council Dr Ben Mbonye said they will address the staff concerns after the audit/investigations. “They raised certain issues to council; there is no item which we have not tackled.

I told their Chairperson Dr Emenyu that by end of May or first weeks of June, the forensic audit will be completed and that’s the report the appraisal team should use, we can’t shorten that period because the forensic must be given enough time to be thorough,”   Dr Mboye said.

Prof. Obua said earlier that he cannot comment on the allegations because they are being investigated. His five-year term expires in October.

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