Makerere University Appointments Board has directed the reinstatement of two suspended staff association leaders.
The two are; Mr Bennet Magara, the chairperson Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA) and the association General Secretary, Mr Joseph Kalema.
They were suspended together with Dr Deus Kamunyu, the Makerere University Academic Staff (MUASA) chairperson, by the Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe for allegedly inciting staff members.
In their suspension letters, Prof Nawangwe said that they led a mob on December 20, 2018, which attempted to disrupt the University Council, the supreme policy-making organ of the university.
“This mob was thwarted by the University Security,” Prof Nawangwe stated.
Their suspension led to a sit-down strike by staff members that lasted close to one month.
The two, through their lawyer, Mr Isaac Ssemakadde, asked for a temporary relief including lifting their suspension pending the hearing and determination of their matter on March 31.
In their application, they argued that their suspension was arbitrary. They asked the Board to order their reinstatement and payment of their salaries.
“The Board has noted your application, considered it and agreed to the application. Suspension is hereby lifted. We will now hear you as fully reinstated members of staff of the university,” Ms Jolly Uzamukunda Karabaya, the Appointments Board chairperson, ruled.
In her preliminary ruling, Ms Uzamukunda promised the parties that the Board will practice fairness, show no bias, observe natural justice and conduct an expeditious hearing.
“Your application which you made on the 13th of March for lifting of suspension is hereby given. According to the constitution and common law. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Ms Uzamukunda said.
She added: “So, we want to hear you when you are a free man and a full member of staff at Makerere University. We want you to answer these charges with full comfort. Whoever alleges anything against you has a burden of proving it.”
During the session, Mr Ssemakadde, objected to the presence of Mr Hudson Musoke, a lawyer from the university’s Directorate of Legal Affairs, who was representing Mr Henry Mwebe, the University’s Director of Legal Affairs.
The Board observed that since the university lawyers had turned into prosecutors of suspended staff, it would be unfair to allow them to give guidance to the Board.
The matter was adjourned to April 12, 2019 at 10 am to enable the prosecution led by Ms Esther Kabinga and Ms Naomi Kiconco Ochieng from the institution's Directorate of Legal Affairs, to avail the accused staff with all the relevant witness statements and other documents to be relied on by the university in presenting its case.
Mr Ssemakadde welcomed the preliminary ruling, saying it was a positive signal by the new Board.
“This is a positive signal that the new Appointments Board can be trusted to reverse the negative track record of injustices left behind by Bruce Kabaasa [the former Board Chairperson],” Mr Ssemakadde said shortly the hearing.