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Uganda: Sacked Makerere varsity staff petition Parliament

Some staff who were sacked by Makerere University for various reasons have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, to investigate their dismissal and other alleged rot afflicting the institution.

The petition followed last month’s decision of the University Appointments Board which sacked 45 staff for absconding from duty, assault, failure to hand in students’ marks in time while others were dismissed for insubordination.

The petitioners say their dismissal is dubious and unprecedented in the university’s history since its establishment in 1922.

“In the history of Makerere University, the Appointments Board had never dismissed staff the way Mr Bruce Kabaasa’s Appointments Board did. On December 22, 2018, staff woke up to shocking news that 47 members of staff were dubiously dismissed, terminated or suspended.

These include two Makerere Administrative Staff Association leaders suspended for acting on behalf of their members who have been suspended; and of 45 academic staff whom government had spent a lot of money on in training to the level of Masters and PhD.

The affected staff were subjected to a sham disciplinary procedure that culminated in their suspensions, termination or dismissal,” the sacked staff’s petition reads in part.

“The disciplinary procedures to which staff were subjected ignored provisions of relevant laws, notably the Constitution and the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders on the handling of disciplinary cases.

A number of staff were summoned for disciplinary action without any prior warning letters and there was no adherence to the progressive processes that should culminate in disciplinary action as required by law,” the petition adds.

One staff identified as Mr Charles Niwagaba, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, was dismissed for negligence and refusal to perform official duties while another, Mr James Ocita, a lecturer of literature, was dismissed for insubordination and use of abusive language.

Other affected staff include Research Fellow Dr Stella Nyanzi, whose contract expired, Dr Swizen Kyomuhendo and Dr Juma Okuku, among others.

The university Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, had earlier told Daily Monitor that the Board followed the legal processes before dismissing the staff.

Prof Nawangwe said majority of them had absconded from duty, others were undisciplined or insubordinate.

In the petition, the dismissed staff called for a forensic audit and review of all appointments at Makerere which were made during tenure of the outgoing Appointments Board chairperson, Mr Kabaasa.
They allege that there are irregular appointments on the university based on nepotism.

“It has become a habit for the members of the Makerere University management and Council to appoint their relatives to positions on the university establishment. Some staff were appointed for one year without any advert running in the media and an internal advert was run later to regularise their appointments,” the petition alleges in part.

This is not the first-time issues of irregular appointments at the university are coming up.
Early last year, teaching staff petitioned the Inspector General of Government to investigate some staff for alleged irregular appointment.
Other demands

The petitioners also want Ms Kadaga to investigate alleged abuse of funds for travel, grabbing of university land, manipulation of council and failure to respect court judgments, among other claims.

They are also seeking an inquiry into the appointments of Mr Kabaasa and Mr Thomas Tayeebwa as members of the University Council. The petition is expected to be handed over to the Speaker’s office today.

By Daily Monitor

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