Three Makerere University suspended staff will today appear before the institution’s appointments board which is investigating the allegations against which the vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, used to recall them from office.
Ms Jolly Uzamukunda, the Makerere University appointments board chairperson told Daily Exclusives yesterday that a notice was given to Dr Deus Muhwezi Kamunyu, the academic staff chairperson, Mr Bennet Magara, Makerere University Administrative staff Association chair and Mr Joseph Kalema representing the support staff two weeks ago to defend themselves today.
“There are three staff who are going to be heard by this committee on Wednesday. This is to allow them exercise their right to be heard and the principle of natural justice as enshrined in the constitution,” Ms Uzamukunda who also works at the Ministry of Education as Commissioner Higher Education said.
She added: “We gave them two weeks to prepare to answer against the charges preferred against them.”
Dr Kamunyu and Mr Magara yesterday said that they were ready to interface with the committee, the council chairperson, Ms Lorna Magara appointed last month.
“I am ready to appear. Since it is a new council, we are giving them the benefit of doubt. It is going to be their first case to handle. Let’s wait and see what comes out,” Mr Magara said.
However, Ms Uzamukunda wasn’t sure whether the court would interfere since Dr Kamunyu had petitioned court challenging the manner in which Prof Nawangwe suspended him.
“We hope there will be no injunction to allow us to proceed. But if there is, we will respect it,” Ms Uzamukunda said.
Asked whether he had considered withdrawing the case, Dr Kamunyu yesterday said no judge or the university officials had requested.
“My counsel wanted clarity before they commit themselves. Appropriate decision will be taken in the course of day. There is no request to withdraw the case. There must be a decision from either court or Makerere,” Dr Kamunyu said.
In the charge sheet against the trio, they are accused of causing a standoff with security officers at the vice chancellor’s office and entry to the council room on December 20, 2018, a matter they say disrupted University activities.
“You have since 2017 not been adhering to university laws and policies and failed, neglected or refused to take heed despite several warnings. You mobilized the media to film staff you mobilized to camp at the council room on December 20, 2018. You, Deus, while employed as a lecturer in various emails on the staff mailing list and in several newspapers articles wrote correspondences that undermine the authority of the vice chancellor and other university officials,” Dr Kamunyu’s charge sheet reads in part.
Mr Andrew Abunyang, director human resource also accused Mr Magara of mobilizing the media to cover their activities on December 20, 2018.
“You, Magara Bennet, while employed as an internal auditor mobilized some staff to go and camp at the main building and later escort Ms Ruth Iteu Eyoku to the council meeting of December 20, 2018 well knowing that she had not been invited for the said meeting. You also engaged in a scuffle and a heated exchange that caused a standoff with security officers at the vice chancellor’s office and the entry to the council room. You mobilized the media to cover your actions well knowing that that would portray a bad image of the university,” Mr Abunyang wrote to Mr Magara on February 28.
Makerere staff under their academic and support staff association declared a strike following the suspension of their leaders. The strike paralysed the university’s operations for close to a month.
The strike was later suspended and the new council given a month to resolve the impasse between the staff and Prof Nawangwe.
However, the one month within which the investigations were to be conducted will expire on March 15 before the cases are concluded.