Academic Registrar on forced study leave
BY OBSERVER REPORTER
Busoga University academic staff are on strike over unpaid salaries. Lecturers at the main campus in Iganga and study centres in Jinja and Kamuli are putting in minimal hours while their colleagues at Kaliro Study Centre and some at the Faculty of Humanities, Business and Management are on an a sit-down strike.
The acting Academic Registrar, Alice Nakiyemba Were, has been ‘asked’ to take a two-year study leave.
University sources revealed that staff members have not been paid since July and in some cases, salary arrears dating back to 2007 haven’t been paid either. Salary, lunch and transport allowances were scaled down recently and surprisingly they haven’t been paid either.
“The consolidation was done amid talk of cost-cutting and efficiency; why then have we not been paid for the last three months?” asked one lecturer.
The institution’s financial problems are said to have been aggravated by a bloated workforce, financial indiscipline and centralisation of the management of study centres and falling enrolment figures, which are partly blamed for discontent and factionalism among academic staff.
The university spends over Shs 150 million per month on about 300 workers some of whom the consultant firm Pentad Associates recently deemed to be irrelevant. Pentad recommended retention of only 63 of the 164 administrative staff, but implementation was reportedly not effected because most of those lined up for the sack are relatives of the would-be implementers.
A February 2009 audit report by Carr Stanyer Sims & Company observed that expenditure on publicity and advertisement totaled Shs 88.7 million, exceeding the budget of Shs 20 million by Shs 68.7 million. An unnamed official is said to have recently drawn Shs 15 million for enrolment drives in Kenya, but there was reportedly no value for money. It was further revealed that the university often borrows money for one purpose only to spend it on another.
In June 2007, Shs 150 million was borrowed from Bank of Baroda to construct more lecture halls, but the money was instead used to pay salaries and allowances. The administration is now asking the University Council to allow it to borrow another Shs 400 million to prepare for the application of a charter.
Financial hardships have reportedly resulted in factionalism as members of staff seek to align themselves with officials believed to be power brokers. One faction is reportedly led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Christopher Bakwesegha, and another led by the University Secretary, Eng. Nathan Muyobo. Their preferred weapon is anonymous letters detailing ‘crimes’ of individuals in opposing factions.
It was one such anonymous letter, dated September 10, that resulted in a forced study leave for the Acting Academic Registrar, Ms. Alice Nakiyemba Were. A letter, which she purportedly wrote to the university’s Disciplinary and Appointments Committee Chairman, Sebastian Ngobi, asking him to expedite her appointment as substantive Academic Registrar, started circulating around the university in mid September.
In the letter, she allegedly accused the University Secretary and other members of staff of harassment, failure to follow the university chain of command, forgery of academic documents, causing financial loss and dishonesty.
Prof. Bakwesegha and Prof. Waiswa examined the letter and reportedly found that though the contents were ‘quite familiar’, the letterhead and signature were not Nakiyemba Were’s.
Nevertheless, on October 7, a sub-committee comprising Prof. Sam Waiswa, Eddie Bamuhamye and Eriya Ntaga was set up to conduct further investigations. It gave Nakiyemba Were an ultimatum to either step aside to finish her doctorate, apply for annual leave, or be forced out.
However, on October 23, Prof. Bakwesegha reportedly persuaded Ms. Nakiyemba Were to “apply for a study leave of two years starting November 2009.” He followed it up with a memo expressing willingness to approve her application.
Sections of the academic staff have, however, accused the administration of failing to address the issues in the letter. The University Council is chaired by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, and includes professors David Bakibinga and Callistas Baliddawa. The University Secretary, Eng. Nathan Muyobo, on Thursday dismissed as “fictitious,” talk of financial indiscipline and factional fighting among the staff.
He claimed no knowledge of a go-slow strike, but conceded that some staff members have not been paid because the academic year has just begun and tuition fees aren’t forthcoming. Recommendations on staffing levels, Eng. Muyobo said, have not been implemented because the University Council is yet to discuss them. About Ms Nakiyemba Were’s study leave, he referred this writer to the Vice Chancellor Prof. Bakwesegha, who declined to comment, saying that he was indisposed.
Makerere set for her first reunion
BY FELIX EUPAL
Makerere University will hold its first alumni reunion on November 27-28. The reunion is being organised by Makerere University Convocation (MUC), an association of the alumni and current staff of Makerere University, which is constituted and mandated by the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act of 2001.
Gilbert Kadilo, the Public Relations Officer of Makerere University, told The Observer that the theme of the event is ‘Makerere University in the 21 Century: the alumni at the centre of its transformation.’
He said this has been conceptualised by the university largely to initiate changes to align itself better with new global and national educational and social demands. Makerere is 87 years old, having been established first as a technical school in 1922.
The two-day event will be presided over by William Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania. President Museveni, Vice President Gilbert Bukenya and the Governor of Bank of Uganda, Tumusiime Mutebile, are some of the dignitaries who have confirmed participation.
As part of the re-union activities, a public lecture will be held on November 27 in the university’s Main Hall where Mkapa will deliver the keynote paper on ‘The Role of the academia in governance and national development.’
There will also be an exhibition to showcase the works and products of students, staff, alumni and well-wishers of Makerere University. Part of the proceeds from sponsors such as Eco-bank, National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and ACODE, among others, plus collections from ticket sales, will be used to kick start construction of the Convocation Project.
Tickets are on sale at Shs 50,000 (Silver); Shs 200,000 (Gold); and Shs 500,000 (Platinum), while the Corporate and Platinum tables will go for Shs 2 million and Shs 5 million respectively. The reunion will be crowned with a grand dinner on November 28 at the Freedom Square.
“Alumni play a key role in the development of their institutions. In a way the reunion will help to get people involved in the works of the university and also stir up their minds. That is why we are bringing high profile persons like Mkapa,” Kadilo said.
Bruce Balaba, the Convocation chairman, added: “The union will provide an occasion for broad analysis and understanding of contemporary institutional challenges and make practical proposals that can enhance the university’s growth and development.”
The University Convocation construction plan will be unveiled to the alumni.
Balaba said the plan includes renovation of the University Hospital which is currently in bad shape.
Prof. Edward Kirumira, the Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, has been appointed by the Vice Chancellor to head a coordination team for the event.
The team shall advise on and oversee the general organisation of the reunion. An online web structure in form of a link has been set up on the university website which is going to be used by the organisers to communicate with and mobilise various alumni.
“The reunion will bring together leading activists in governance and socio-economic development and other alumni under one platform to engage in intellectual discourse and challenge the university to increase its visibility in shaping public policies related to governance and socio-economic development,” said Balaba.
Nkumba shopping for 150 computers
BY PHILIMON BADAGAWA
Nkumba University has launched a fundraising drive to purchase at least 146 computers, the Chancellor Dr. Maggie Kigozi announced last week.Kigozi made the announcement during the ‘Chancellor’s Dinner’ that brought together friends of Nkumba University. About Shs 16 million was raised.
“The university needs 146 computers and accessories to facilitate the ICT unit,” Dr. Kigozi told friends of Nkumba.
At the dinner, religious portraits were also auctioned. A portrait of Kaaba (for the Muslims) was bought at Shs 95,000, a portrait of Namirembe Cathedral was sold at Shs 1,450,000, and a portrait of Rubaga Cathedral fetched Shs 300,000.
During the same function, the Governor Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Nkumba University.
Dr. Kigozi said Mutebile was awarded the degree because of his great contribution towards the development of Uganda’s financial sector. She added that the award would help motivate others. The ‘Chancellor’s Dinner’ was held at UMA Hall Lugogo under the theme ‘Support for academic development, building friends of Nkumba University.’