KAMPALA – Makerere University Institute of Social Research (MISR) director, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani has said he is not answerable to the university hierarchy but rather, to donors.
In a letter dated July 16 to Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe the Makerere University vice-chancellor, Prof. Mamdani says he can’t implement orders from his office that are contrary to what donors want.
Mamdani’s letter was in response to directives from the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training [DRGT], a body responsible for all postgraduate trainings at Makerere, which MISR is part of.
The directorate’s April 26 letter addressed to Prof. Nawangwe had directed Prof. Mamdani to reinstate the scholarship of one of its students, Judith Ikiring Obore, wife to former Mamdani’s deputy and senior lecturer in the department of literature James Ocita.
Ms Ikiring was admitted on March 13, 2014, as a graduate student at Makerere University but her scholarship was withdrawn in her third year for being academically ‘weak’ for the demanding five- year Doctor of Philosophy multidisciplinary degree of social studies.
However, the timing of the termination was suspect as it came at a time when Prof. Mamdani had fallen out with Ocita over the management of MISR.
Ikiring appealed the decision at DRGT which in March held a meeting and decided that her scholarship be reinstated and any arrears arising out of the withdrawal of the scholarship be paid to her.
Because of the delay on the part of DRGT to decide her case, Ikiring dragged both Makerere and Mamdani, to High Court over malice and victimization of students and abuse of academic procedures, negligence of duty, and breach of contract among others.
In DRGT’s communication to Mamdani, Ikiring is also advised to withdraw her court case. The letter also recommends that the institute should follow university rules and regulations regarding student enrollment and studies.
“Misr should harmonize its study time, procedure processes and guidelines to be in line with the general university regulations. Admission of students should be separated from scholarship award and the scholarship offer should have clear terms and conditions,” the letter signed by Dr Eria Hisali on behalf of Prof Buyinza Mukadasi, the director for DRGT, reads.
But Mamdani responded that there is no way he can reinstate Obore’s scholarship because she failed to submit a satisfactory proposal for admission to the fourth year of the programme.
“She failed to submit a revised proposal, in spite of being invited to do so. She thus failed to be in good academic standing,” Mamdani wrote.
He added that Ikiring is not the first student to lose her fellowship for failing to be in good academic standing. That Misr academic board’s decision to withdraw her fellowship was in accordance with and protects the academic integrity of the programme.
“This decision is also in accord with the terms under which Misr draws fellowship funds from donors. These include the requirement that only students in good academic standing be awarded fellowship. It is the duty of the director to protect the integrity of the unit and its programme and to ensure that commitments to donors are honoured promptly, fully and in good faith,” Mamdani wrote.
He advised that since DRGT has decided that Ikiring continues with her PhD, then it should award her a fellowship and also find a unit willing to accept her. And this includes paying her the arrears she has missed.
Other than Ikiring, two other students, Yusuf Serunkuma and Vincent Nuwagaba; lecturers James Ocita and Virginie Tallio have dragged Mamdani to court, accusing him of various things relating to his management of Misr.