Makerere staff ask for parliamentary probe

Sunday January 13 2019

Poll. Makerere University lecturers vote to

Poll. Makerere University lecturers vote to suspend the strike at the university main building in July 2017 . FILE PHOTO 


A section of members of staff of Makerere University have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, calling for the constitution of a parliamentary committee to probe the institution.
The January 2 petition is, among others, the minister of Education and Sport, the minister of State for Higher Education and the chairperson of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa).
Mr Chris Obore, the director of communications and public affairs at the Parliament, said he was not aware of the said petition.
“If it was addressed to the Speaker, she could still be studying it. Once she has made a decision, she will communicate to the clerk,” he said.

The requests
The petitioners are requesting that if such a committee is constituted it should interest itself in five key areas, some of which were pointed out in the 2016 report of the Visitation Committee on Makerere University, but have never been acted on.

Top on the list is financial management, the payroll and disposal of assets, which all featured in the visitation committee’s report.
The committee had recommended the recovery of funds that the institution lost due to irregular financial practices, compliance with the laws governing public financial management, accountability and procurement and disposal of public assets and an investigation by the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) of financial malfeasance at the university.

The petitioners also want the circumstances under which the university lost land in Kololo, Makindye, Katalemwa and Kabanyolo to be probed.
Other areas that the petitioners would like the proposed probe to focus on include administrative malpractices, including the victimisation of students and staff who dare challenge those in administration, a review of how certain people were appointed to the university’s council, a review of Universities and Other tertiary Institutions’ Act with a view of causing amendments to it, and establishing why the recommendations of committees that have previously probed the university have never been implemented.

Some of those accused of dabbling in what the petitioners termed as gross administrative malpractices and victimisation of students and staff are the vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, and the Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research (Misr), Prof Mahmood Mamdani.
Prof Nawangwe denied knowledge of the petition.
“Is it different from the petition by the dismissed staff? What is it about and by who? I haven’t seen it. Please send me a copy then we schedule a meeting,” he wrote.

By press time, the meeting had not been scheduled.
This is, however, not the first time that similar allegations have been brought against Prof Mamdani. Last year, two PhD students, Judith Ikiring Obore and Vincent Nuwagaba, dragged him to court, accusing him of, among others, vindictiveness and abuse of university rules and regulations.
Prof Mamdani filed written statements of defence denying the allegations.

Muasa speaks out

On Friday morning, the chairperson of Muasa, Mr Deus Kamunyu, told this newspaper that the petitioners were within their rights and that some of the issues they were raising were legitimate.
“As an association, we associate with some of those issues. That is why we are saying that they must be addressed and brought to an end,” Mr Kamunyu said.