KAMPALA: A group of Makerere University lecturers have given the University Council a 10-day ultimatum to start the process of appointing a new Vice-Chancellor to replace Prof Barnabas Nawangwe or else they go to court.
In a letter dated August 8, 2022, addressed to the University Council chairperson, Lorna Magara, the university staff led by Associate Professor Jude Sempebwa and Dr. Muhwezi Deus Kamunyu, through their lawyers of Nassuuna and Company Advocates said whereas the tenure of Prof Nawangwe is expiring on August 31, 2022, there seem to be no plans by the authorities to replace him.
“We have observed that the tenure of the current Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, is coming to an end on 31st August 2022. Although the tenure is coming to an end, the search process for a Vice-Chancellor has not been started to find a replacement,” the dons said.
They also said that the delay smacks of a sinister plan by the university leadership to reappoint Prof Nawangwe to the position even when the university human resource manual does not allow it.
“In spite of our clients’ interest and the demand of the Joint Staff Association Executives that the University Council should constitute a Search Committee for the position of the Vice Chancellor as required by law, our clients have waited for the search process to start in vain,” the letter reads in part.
“We also refer to the letter or the Joint Staff Association Executives dated 14th July 2022 addressed to you and copied to us. Among other things, that the Office of the Vice Chancellor is falling vacant in one and a half months. By now the search for the VC should have been concluded. That letter also observed that there are covert, biased, disputed, and clandestine methods of trying to evaluate the current Vice Chancellor to award him another contract well aware that he does not qualify,” it adds.
However, they said Nawangwe no longer qualifies for the position since he is above the age of 40 and 65 years as per the university policy. Nawangwe is now 66.
“Therefore we behest the University Council immediately takes the following actions;
i) Urgently commence the search prices for the position of Vice Chancellor in accordance with the law and the University’s own policies, and reasonableness.
ii) A response not later than 10 days from the date of receipt of this letter to enable our clients and all stakeholders in Makerere University decide the next course of action,” the letter reads.
The university staff say the actions should be taken in good faith “not only to protect the integrity and sanctity of Makerere University but also to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of Makerere University as a public institution, more so at this time when Makerere University is celebrating 100 years of existence and excellence.”
Last month, Makerere University staff petitioned the University Council over the delay to search for a vice chancellor, six weeks to the expiry of Prof Barnabas Nawangwe’s term of office.
The staff said Prof Nawangwe’s term expires on August 31, but the University Council is reluctant to constitute a search committee to immediately fill the position as provided for in the law.
“There are covert, biased, disputed and clandestine methods of trying to evaluate the current vice chancellor to award him another contract well aware that he does not qualify for another contract according to policy. The University Council should start the search process immediately. If the contract of the vice chancellor expires before the completion of the search process, the first deputy vice chancellor should be appointed in acting capacity as per the law,” the petition, which this newspaper has seen, reads further.
Prof Nawangwe, the former deputy vice chancellor of Finance and administration at the university, was appointed vice chancellor in June 2017 for a five-year term.
According to article 31 (4) of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, the vice chancellor shall be appointed on terms and conditions determined by the University Council for five years and shall be eligible for reappointment for one more term.
This means that the process of advertising and committee relates to the first appointment and not reappointment.
The University Council is thus slated to appraise Prof Nawangwe and if found fit for the job based on his five-years performance, his term could be extended.