A lot has been and will be said about the recent appointments to the IUIU University Council. Focus has been on the rather contentious appointment of, especially Mr Mahir Balunywa, whose earlier postings on the Ugandan Muslim elite Internet discussion forum: ‘Uganda Muslims and Brothers - (UMBS)’, with 17,000 members worldwide, did raise a few eyebrows, as they focused more on the person of Dr Ssengendo, accusing him of many things.
Whereas the government has the right to appoint any three members to the IUIU Council in addition to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minster of Education or their representatives, some Muslims think it was not proper to appoint someone who clearly had personal issues with the rector of the university. The University Council is the supreme governing body of the university responsible for the overall administration of the university and for ensuring the due implementation of the objects and functions of the university. So, tension in the council must impact on the university’s performance.
However, matters seem to be more complex than they seem. Perhaps the new IUIU University Council may not have to deal with Dr Ssengendo, after all.
Reports indicate that a group of interested persons convinced the President to write to the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, asking him to remove the Rector, Dr Ahmad Kaweesa Ssengendo, and Vice Rector/Academic, Dr Mouhamad Mpezamihigo, from the university, ostensibly on security grounds due to the ‘fact’ that the two were allegedly founder members a political party in the opposition, which, we have since learnt from minister Kiyingi, was JEEMA (Justice Forum). There are questions that must be addressed at the highest level. First, is it true that the President wrote to the OIC Secretary General asking him to remove Dr Ssengendo and Dr Mpezamihigo from IUIU?
Secondly, if he did, did he act on correct information or was he misled? Thirdly, If he was misled, who misled him and who is to be held responsible for the predictable fallout from this action which is to re-create tension between a section of the Muslim Community and the President and his government? Already, the discourse in many mosques these days point to a ‘conspiracy’ from certain quarters unfriendly to Islam and Muslims, to sabotage Muslim development in Uganda and parallels are being drawn between the events that led to the closure of Greenland Bank and this current IUIU uncertainty. Few Muslims in Uganda believe the closure of Greenland Bank was an act in good faith.
If the information that the President acted upon that the two are a ‘security risk’ because they are allegedly founder members of an opposition political party in Uganda, what precedent does this set for the future of higher education in Uganda? The government should clear the air on these matters.