MPs on the parliamentary committee on Education have asked Makerere University vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe to rethink his managerial skills and style while running the university.
According to the committee, Nawangwe ought to consider exploring dialogue to restore normalcy instead of undermining and suspending colleagues with divergent views.
Nawangwe was appearing before the committee over the current crisis at the university. Close to a month now, business at Makerere has stalled due to the ongoing staff strike following Nawangwe's suspension of staff associations leaders.
The committee noted that Nawangwe’s administration has been marred by persistent suspensions which would otherwise have been eliminated to enable the university operate without avoidable crises.
The committee also accused Nawangwe of undermining powers of trade unions and associations following the suspension of Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the chairperson Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa).
Nawangwe suspended Kamunyu for alleged indiscipline and inciting staff leading to the ongoing strike. Nawangwe however said he did not regret sacking the two other staff; Bennet Magara, the chairperson Makerere Administrative Staff Association and his general secretary, Joseph Kalema.
According to Nawangwe, he has since appointed a five-man committee to investigate the conduct of Kamunyu where he can go and defend himself.
Referring to Article 29 however, Workers’ MP Margret Rwabushaija said all persons have rights and freedom to join trade unions, assemble or demonstrate as long as they are not armed.
“To your heart, there must be dialogue. Expect people to differ from you…be open, even in your house there are those who may not agree with what you say. You are not going to lock out everybody,” Rwabushaija said.
She said it was unbecoming of Nawangwe to wake up and ‘say this one is disturbing’ and writes a dismissal or suspension letter.
“You should think of the legacy you are leaving behind for historians to read. Have you tried to exhaust dialogue and it has failed? These people are not like shamba boys, they are academicians,” Rwabushaija said.
“They will not just be kneeling before you to say yes we agree with you. Talk to them as your contemporaries. Its only that one has been elevated more than the other but the story will change, we meet in different office,” she added.
The committee expressed concern over Nawangwe’s administration describing it as a 'reign of terror.'
“Let us shed off our personal egos and focus on the best we can agree on for the good of Makerere. If the staff want to run the university like they are management, let us remind them where they are, and if management wants to run it like a kiosk, let us also remind them that they should not over stretch their powers,” committee chairperson Jacob Opolot said.
Nawangwe denied the accusations of highhandedness, saying he is a simple person who believes in dialogue and had engaged all possibilities in vain.
“We believe in dialogue and our report shows how many times we have engaged with the various stakeholders. I do not wake up and write letters to suspend lecturers,” Nawangwe said.
The vice chancellor also refuted reports of reign of terror at the institution.