KAMPALA: The tenure of Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi as Chairperson of the Forum for Academic Staff in Public Universities (FASPU) and Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) has come to an end.
Kamunyu served as FASPU Chairperson for almost two years, having been elected in June 2019.
By being unique and calm as a leader, his time as head of both associations was seen as a way to improve the well-being of staff at public universities.
As MUASA Chairperson, Kamunyu was a vocal critic of the university administration, representing the voices of staff demanding reforms in key areas of the institution, including employment systems, the welfare of staff, academic freedoms, and the proper functioning of university systems, and spoke against financial excesses and mis-allocation of resources.
It is from his stance on these issues as a representative of the academic staff that a deep-seated animosity grew between staff associations and the university administration led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.
Kamunyu was suspended on accusations of inciting staff indiscipline and insubordination to the authorities following several warnings and his insistence on having the staff issues addressed.
His suspension caused an uproar from university staff, leading to a month-long sit-down strike by all staff, causing a stalemate at the century-prestigious institution.
As FASPU Chairperson, Kamunyu organised an industrial action to push for the release of 129.24 billion schillings by the government towards the enhancement of salaries of lecturers in all public universities as per a presidential directive in 2015.
Dr. Kamunyu says that his biggest achievement in leadership was to ensure that university staff received salary increments.
Dr. Kamunuyu also says that while stepping into leadership, he envisioned a teaching environment for staff who are not constrained to offering education.
Kamunyu is also credited with the creation of a research fund and a life insurance scheme for staff.
Dr. Milton Wabyona, the Public Relations Officer for Makerere University Academic Staff Association, says that Kamunyu was an articulate leader whose focus on issues regarding staff welfare was firm.
Dr. Simon Kawuma, the Chairperson of Mbarara University of Science and Technology Academic Staff Association-MUSTASA, says that Kamunyu united staff in public universities, which created a force that could push for their interests.
Kamunyu says that his successors in MUASA and FASPU should advocate for better employment terms and full salary increments for the rest of the lecturers.
The Forum for Academic Staff in Public Universities (FASPU) was set up in 2017 to help the academic staff at all 10 public universities negotiate with the government about raising their salaries.