The Church of Uganda has disbanded two rival governing councils at Ankole Western Institute of Science and Technology (AWIST-popularly known as Ankole Western University), which have been fighting over management of the institution.
AWIST, which is located in Kabwohe, Sheema District, has been rocked by management conflicts for three years. The disagreements partly stem from a plan to open an auxiliary campus at Katungu in Bushenyi Town in the neighbouring Bushenyi District.
The plan was opposed by some public figures in Sheema, including Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye and Mr Sam Kahindi.
The plan for the new branch of the institute, however, is supported by prominent people from Bushenyi District such as the Bishop of West Ankole Diocese, Bishop Yona Katoneene.
AWIST was started in 2003 by the diocese. Since August 2014, it has been run under two rival governing councils.
On August 9, 2014, the Synod, the diocese’s top assembly, approved the council chaired by Prof Eli Katunguuka when the one chaired by Prof Ephraim Kamuntu was still serving.
The five-year term for Prof Kamuntu’s council ended in February this year, but they refused to hand over office to the Prof Katunguka’s group, which they suspected would support pro-Katoneene group that wants a subordinate campus in Bushenyi.
The raging impasse forced Uganda Christian University (UCU) to revoke the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AWIST in February.
On April 27, the Church of Uganda disbanded the two rival councils during a meeting chaired by the Provincial Secretary, Can Amos Magezi and the Bishop of Rwenzori Diocese, Reuben Kisembo, who is also the chairman of Church of Uganda Peace and Social Justice Commission.
The meeting disbanded the two councils and elected a six-man interim council to run the institute for three months.
They will work with the diocese to select a balanced governing council for the institute.
Can Magezi confirmed the development on Tuesday.
“The province has done its work and it’s upon the West Ankole diocesan authorities to run the institute in the right direction. Much as selection of the interim governing council has been fulfilled, much of the remaining task is laid before the West Ankole Diocesan Church organs. It’s the diocese to finalise the work,” he said.
The meeting tasked the AWIST principal, Can Edidah Mujinya, to pursue renewal of the MoU with Uganda Christian University.
Bishop Katoneene, who is the AWIST chancellor, and at the centre of the conflict, said he will make an official communication on the matter at a press conference later this week.
Mr David Kabigumira, the chairman of the rival group opposed to the Katoneene proposal for a new campus, said: “We are happy about the interim council because the new one led by Prof Katunguka was unconstitutionally elected to take the university to Katungu. At least AWIST is going to stabilise this time round.”
Chairman: Can Alex Kagume (head of Church of Uganda commission for higher education).
Mr Kula Vasio (provincial education secretary), Mr Henry Turyagyenda (retired commissioner of education), Can John Senyonyi (UCU vice chancellor), Mr Henry Okinyal (Member of Church of Uganda higher education commission), Prof Hannington Sengendo (Nkumba University vice chancellor,) Mr Patrick Bakamare (senior educationist).