KAMPALA – Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Baranabas Nawangwe has blocked the swearing in of two staff representatives to the university tribunal that hears cases of indiscipline and determines the fate of the alleged errant workers.
Prof Nawangwe’s action has provoked angry reaction from Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa) who nominated the two representatives.
Muasa had nominated Assistant Prof. Ronald Kakungulu-Mayambala and Dr Phionah Mpanga both from School of Law to represent the academic staff on the tribunal for the next four years after expiry of the term of Dr Rose Nakayi and Prof. Muhammad Ntale on June 18.
“The General Assembly decided to send to the tribunal people with a legal background; Dr Mayambala and Dr Mpanga who were overwhelmingly voted. The Vice Chancellor said he will not accept the nominees because he had received a petition against the names.” Said Dr Mwanga.
He added that as Muasa, they expected the petition to have come to them to stop the swearing in.
He explained that the Vice Chancellor has refused to share the contents of the petition and wants to frustrate the beginning of the tribunal so that those staff who were suspended and dismissed continue suffering.
“The staff were aggrieved by management’s decision.We need to follow the law. We need to understand where the Vice Chancellor stops. We can’t afford quarreling with the Vice Chancellor all the time. The tribunal is not addressing the situation and justice delayed is justice denied.”
In January this year, Prof Nawangwe had dismissed over 45 staff, among them Muasa chairperson Dr Deus Kamunyu, for various reasons including absconding from duty, insubordination and computer misuse.
However Dr Kamunyu’s suspension for six months on half pay after recommendations of the University Appointments Board, sparked a strike in January as the teaching staff declined to report for the second semester.
Although the staff have demanded that Prof Nawangwe withdraws Dr Kamunyu’s suspension, he has maintained his stance.
Prof Nawangwe instead instituted a committee to investigate Dr Kamunyu’s activities, further escalating his relations with the academic staff.
However the University Council chaired by Ms Lorna Magara later stopped the committee investigations saying Prof Nawangwe didn’t have powers to investigate a case he had interest in.
Dr Edward Mwavu, the Muasa acting chairperson, told PML Daily July 2 that the hearing of their petition had not kicked off because when they nominated names of their new representatives to the tribunal, Prof Nawangwe blocked their swearing-in.
When reached for a comment July 2, Prof Nawangwe confirmed he had stopped the swearing in of the new staff representatives on the tribunal because he had received a petition challenging their nomination.
He said Muasa can only proceed after the university legal team advises him so.
“There is a petition against those who were nominated. I have told Muasa leadership that the people they nominated will not be sworn in until the petition has been cleared. A section of Muasa members petitioned. They say the election was not done in accordance with the law. My legal department is investigating their activities and as soon as I get the report, I will inform Muasa,” Prof Nawangwe said.
Muasa has accused Prof Nawangwe of frustrating the aggrieved staff who are seeking justice from the tribunal.
The University later reopened for second semester on condition that the staff suspend their strike to allow the University Council an opportunity to resolve the matter.
In May, Muasa General Assembly resolved that they would not return to work in August unless Dr Kamunyu’s issues were settled.
The staff later agreed to suspend their industrial action for two extra months to allow the tribunal hear Dr Kamunyu’s appeal.
The University administration accused Dr Muhwezi in January of taking part in an illegal strike, use of abusive language, acts or omissions that are prejudicial to the proper performance of duties or the university’s image, non-adherence to any other university policies and slander.