KAMPALA — High Court Civil Division Judge Lydia Mugambe has ordered Makerere University to compensate Dr. Stella Nyanzi up to UGX120m promote her to the rank of Senior Research Fellow, pay all her salary emoluments and then reinstate her on job.
This was after the court found that the institution was in contempt of it’s Staff Appeals Tribunal when it suspended the researcher.
Judge Mugambe ruled that Makerere violated it’s Staff Appeals tribunal by failing to promote, paying and reinstating her on job as the Tribunal had previously ordered.
In November 2018, Dr Nyanzi through her lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde dragged Makerere to the High Court accusing the Institution for failing to implement the orders of Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal.
The tribunal had held that Nyanzi’s 2016 suspension from Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) was illegal and thus ordered for her promotion , reinstatement and payment of all her two-year emoluments.
The Staff Appeals Tribunal led by George Omunyokol had on October 2nd 2018 given the University 30 days to implement the said directives from the date of judgment.
But immediately after the expiry of the days without any implementation, Dr. Nyanzi who was suspended after a series of outbursts attacking the First Lady Janet Museveni petitioned court saying that to date the University has never been compliant.
But during the hearing of this application, the University through their Human Resource Director, Andrew Abunyang denied all the allegations and told court that Nyanzi was suspended after the expiration of her five year contract.
However, in her Judgement on Thursday, Justice Mugambe noted that Makerere University suspended Nyanzi illegally after failing to get what they wanted from the Staff Appeals Tribunal.
Justice Mugambe held that all the actions that were taken after the decision of the tribunal including the December, 2018 formal suspension were all acts of defiance and thus declared them irrational, irregular and unreasonable.
“This can be seen for example from the subsequent claim by the Respondent (Makerere University) that the applicant held a five year contract which expired. This issue had been clarified by the Tribunal in its second decision. The respondent’s officers had to work on this clarification objectively and in good faith. However in the circumstances of this case, the respondents’ officials appear to have acted in defiance to the tribunal’s decision. This was irregular, irrational and unreasonable,” said Mugambe.
The Judge in her ruling added that it was wrong for the Makerere University which set up the Tribunal to solve it’s internal issues to be the one to disregard it’s decisions.
Before making the said orders, the judge clarified that the tribunal’s decisions that have since lapsed should be treated to take effect from yesterday’s date of judgement.
Makerere University will also pay Dr. Stella Nyanzi costs of the suit.
Commenting on the ruling, Dr. Nyanzi said: “We won this case for the downtrodden and abused employees at Makerere University who are penalised for daring to challenge authoritarianism and abuse of power. We won for all those junior academics oppressed by senior professors who are protected by the fat cats running our universities “.
“I have waited for this particular justice since 2011 when Prof Mahmood Mamdani started compromising my employment contract with Makerere University. I sought redress and justice from all the powerful offices at this public university, to no avail for five long years. I wrote hundreds of letters that were ignored,” she added.
Dr. Nyanzi says she is looking forward to going back to her office, getting all her unpaid salaries, and getting promoted to the position of Senior Research Fellow.
“I lost at least eight years of promotion because of these protracted violations. However, it is never too late to catch up for those of us who work hard. I am also looking forward to receiving the total sum of One Hundred and Twenty Million Uganda Shillings as damages awarded to me by court.”