By Lukayya Nakamaya
Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, says that he isn’t about to relent on his mission to restore discipline at the university.
Professor Nawangwe told the Homeland Newspaper that, a section of staff and students have been taking his administration lightly but vowed to punish staff who engage in activities that are likely to antagonize university programs.
He says Makerere University is highly reputable across the globe but is marred by a culture of indiscipline, which manifests in endless strikes by students and staff.
He however, says that is determined to change the status quo under his administration.
Professor Nawangwe said this on the sidelines of the swearing in ceremony for the new leadership of Makerere University Academic Staff Association-Muasa.
Ever since Prof Nawangwe assumed leadership at Makerere, he has cracked a whip on several staff and students for alleged indiscipline and hooliganism.
In 2018, Professor Nawangwe suspended several students for allegedly inciting violence and threatening to disrupt university programs over tuition increment.
They included among others Daniel Kituno, Jobs Dhabona, Samuel Kigula and Obed Obed-Giu Kwokuboth Jalmeo, one of the guild presidential aspirants.
Towards the end of 2018, Nawangwe’s leadership dismissed 45 teaching and non-teaching staff over offences ranging from sexual harassment of students, insubordination to fraud, absconding from duty and financial fraud, among others.
This was followed with the suspension of Bennet Magara, the Chairperson of the Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA) and his General Secretary, Joseph Kalema for alleged insubordination.
The staff had challenged the Vice Chancellor’s continued involvement into staff association affairs.
In 2019, Professor Nawangwe suspended Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the MUASA Chairperson on accusation of engaging in acts intended to cause disobedience, strike to undermine the university administration, intimidation of university officials, using abusive language and making false statements against management.
Dr. Kamunyu who was returned as MUASA Chairperson told The Homeland Newspaper that, while they don’t condone indiscipline threats on staff welfare demands and needs might not work.
He argues that as a free academic, anyone who works in an academic institution must respect the rule of law and open discourse and must have the brain muscle to engage and arrive at plausible answers to the current problem facing the institution.
The Vice Chairperson Makerere University Council, Daniel Fred Kidega said that, all University officials must adhere to the institutional rules and regulations.
Kidega argues that while it is important to get rid of indiscipline, it cannot be done at the expense of justice and good governance mechanisms.
Professor Nawangwe fell out with Makerere School of Law last year after it issued legal opinions indicating that he didn’t have powers to suspend staff or appoint a committee to investigate employees.
Professor John-Jean Barya, a constitutional and labor law expert lashed at Professor Nawangwe’s administration for stifling academic freedoms of both staff and students.
Professor Barya, who is also the Head of Department Public and Comparative Law at Makerere’s School of Law, says he had both in his lifetime as a student and staff at Makerere never seen a situation where the administration seeks to directly antagonise staff and students compared to the case today.
He says it is important for both students and staff to rise up to the occasion and challenge the status quo.