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Makerere University staff ask Nawangwe to reinstate suspended Deans' Forum

Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

Makerere University Staff members have asked the vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe to reinstate the Deans' Forum which he suspended last month citing the illegality of its existence.   

The staff through their joint association; Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA), and Nuei said that the suspension is one of the continued actions that undermine fundamental human rights and academic freedoms at the university.  

The Makerere University Deans’ Forum (MUDF) was established to promote academic excellence through collective action, capacity building, and the sharing of best practices. It included deans of schools and directors of teaching institutions, encompassing 29 members from across the university.  

But in a letter dated May 29, Nawangwe asked the acting deputy vice chancellor in charge of academic affairs, Prof Umar Kakumba to suspend the forum citing the legality of its existence. 

"I have received complaints regarding the legality of the Dean’s Forum. Pending resolution of the legality of this forum, all activities of the forum are hereby suspended," the May 29 letter briefly reads.  

On May 30, Kakumba in a letter informed the chairperson and members of MUDF, deans, principals, and deputy principal School of Law about the decision of the vice chancellor. This has however caused discontent among members of the staff at Makerere University and have appealed to Nawangwe to immediately overturn his decision arguing that it is one of the acts that has been often done at the university and infringed on academic freedom.  

They referred to the recent probe of the lecturer who set a question referenced to the current woes faced by the speaker of parliament, Annet Anita Among that Nawangwe ordered which they say tarnishes the name of the university.  

“To contribute to the university’s work and to realize their full potential, staff and students depend on the assurance that exercising their freedom of association, conscience, etc. shall not lead them into conflict with management,” reads part of the letter.    

“Yet, your suspension of the Deans’ Forum, recent stance on examination L1210 from the School of Law, etc. inevitably deprive the staff and students of this assurance. Moreover, such actions, even if eventually vacated, leave indelible scars of self-censorship, to the detriment of staff’ and students’ productivity,” they added  

“Moreover, even if many suspensions by you were found inappropriate and annulled by the appointments board, staff tribunal, and High court, these suspensions left indelible dents on the university’s image,” the staff added.  

The staff further demanded that the vice chancellor refrain from attitudes and actions that are prejudicial to the fundamental human rights and academic freedoms of members of the Makerere University community.

“We demand that you refrain from attitudes and actions that are prejudicial to the fundamental human rights and academic freedoms of members of the Makerere University community. This will give the community confidence that you, and others in the university’s management, will not illegally constrain and violate their inherent human rights and academic freedom. Alternatively, members of the university community will be forced to appeal to other human rights protectors,” the staff said.

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