Ever since Professor Barnabas Nawangwe was named Makerere University Vice Chancellor, he has been involved in scandals including suspension and expulsion of several university students, staff members and also dictated on several matters and decisions.
Questions have been asked whether Professor Barnabas Nawangwe is implementing these decisions while others have praised him including President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who praised him for his effort to reform and re-establish the glory of Makerere University which has been in existence since 1922.
But at the same time, Nawangwe should be credited for his continued reconstruction of university premises like college building, toilets in the different halls of residence, he has also helped to strengthen the security at the campus, get solutions for possible strikes and riots on campus, instalment of security lights and painting a new image of Makerere University.
In the past years the great Ivory tower had been referred to as a club of hooligans and goons who strike every semester and destroy the university property.
In this particular story were going to tackle the different decisions that he adopted and implemented at Uganda’s oldest and biggest university.
Prof Nawangwe’s controversy started in 2017, when he contested for the top University position of Vice Chancellor at Makerere University, with his immediate rival and former VC Prof. Venansious Baryamureeba in a tight race.
Afterwards the two were selected as the most competent candidates and endorsed by the search committee and University Council.
Their names were later forwarded to the Chancellor Makerere University, Prof Ezra Suruma to decide on who to guide the University business.
During this time Professor Baryamureeba stated that; the whole process lacked transparency, filled up with injustices, fraud, after Professor Barnabas Nawangwe’s victory.
“The methodology used did not ensure a fair, transparent, competitive process and best possible outcome.”
Baryamureeba added that there was a set plan to ensure that “Prof Nawangwe emerge the best candidate with Prof Baryamureeba as the worst but also with a huge margin so that Prof Baryamureeba’s possible voters in council can be convinced to give up on voting for the worst candidate. And it worked.”
This was followed by Nawangwe’s policy of banning and suspending evening programmes and classes and hence an attempt to eliminate long distance and e-learning at the university in March 2018.
Although Professor Barnabas Nawangwe denied the allegations on his social media accounts, many most especially lecturers referred to it as too much pressure which he couldn’t control.
Evening classes were resumed at the Ivory Tower and hence a failure of Nawangwe’s attempt. On abolition of evening programmes, in his own words Professor Barnabas Nawangwe stated that the evening programmes are becoming hard to maintain due to decreasing number of evening class students.
He proceeded and said; the University had to source funds from other programmes to finance evening programmes which is not conducive to them.
Dr Tanga Odoi, Chairperson Makerere University Convocation and also a member of the University’s Senate seconded Nawangwe’s decision saying that it was a challenge to them as far as remunerating lecturers is concerned.
“Why would you have a class of only five people and you pay more money to maintain them than what they bring in? The evening programme was meant to be self-accounting, but it was becoming a problem as the numbers of student’s reduced.
Some were going to other universities and even A-level these days produces less students.”
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe went on and abolished meals for all residence who stay in halls of residence like Nkurumah, Lumumba, University hall and others for both government sponsored students and private sponsored students which caused tension at the university.
Professor Nawangwe through management suggested that students should instead be given cash to cater for their lunch, supper and breakfast.
This website has learnt that every government student is entitled to receive cash amounting to 530,000 shillings every semester. This was one of the worst decisions made and reached by the professor and it left many students cursing him.
Unfortunately the student leaders also accepted and never reacted against the policy.
Professor Nawangwe said that; “the money we are getting is not enough and now we are getting money from private students to subsidise public students.
It’s a big challenge and I think council has made a good decision (to abolish meals). There should be cost sharing between the student and government.
If the government can cover full tuition, then the boarding and feeding should go to the students. It’s a good idea.”
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe also suggested the introduction and elimination of all lecturers allowances which he referred to as “unnecessary allowances”. After this policy, the lives of staff members changed and have remained disgruntled up to now.
And on top of that he suggested a declaration stating that; Makerere will start the conversion to an almost exclusively graduate University.
His argument was that the institution’s internally-generated revenues were dropping from shs120bn to shs90bn in the last 10yrs.Adding that the cost of in-puts had tremendously escalated.
However, Makerere Academic Staff Association (MUASA) through their chairperson Dr. Deus Kamunyu suddenly reacted to Prof Nawangwe’s announcement saying that lecturers expect that they will be paid their allowances in arrears stretching over many months back, and that they have an agreement to have the money paid by July this year if not they strike.
On April 16, 2018, Nawangwe considered corrective sanctions against staff who feed the media with wrong information which resulted into bad publicity that hurts the university’s international image.
Nawangwe believed that staff members fed the media with wrong information. “the media have claimed that the false information is provided to them by ‘insiders’. While we don’t wish to stifle freedom of expression, we are seriously considering sanctions against Makerere staff that deliberately provide false information to the media with the aim of damaging the University’s image.”
Reactions on Nawangwe’s proposed sanctions
Prof Edward Nector Mwavu MUASA Vice Chairperson said there is no solid evidence on Nawangwe’s claim noting that he does not quote any story involving a staff providing information that hurts the university’s face.
On August 7th, 2018, Prof Nawangwe suspended 3 students for allegedly threatening to derange university activities over increased tuition fees.
In their suspension letters issued Professor Barnabas Nawangwe accused them of circulating information that calls for deviance against the institution’s management.
“It has come to attention that you are involved in acts that are intended to cause anarchy to the university. Among other illegal acts, you have circulated inflammatory messages on social media calling for deviance and disruption of University activities.” Prof Nawangwe’s message in three separate letters to each student.
There after Nawangwe issued a directive to the university’s Chief security officer to execute the criminal proceeding on the three students including Daniel Kituno, Samuel Kiguli, and Jobs Dhabona and ensure that they leave the university grounds with immediate effect.
After their dismissal these 3 students filed a case in the high court against Nawangwe’s resolution stating that the resolution taken by Prof Nawangwe to suspend them was against the principles of natural justice. Noting that they were not given a chance to defend their move.
“We suffered psychological torture, irreparable harm through violation of our fundamental rights to education, equality and non-discrimination and loss of self-esteem as a result of this suspension,” the 3 suspended students stated.
And as a result, the 3 students wanted their reinstatement considered by the VC, Academic Registrar and Dean of students and also compensate them in terms of examinations missed.
On December 22, 2018, Nawangwe fired 45 senior academic staff stating that they had absconded from duty for over five years, while others were involved in sexual harassment cases.
On top of absconding he says others were undisciplined and insubordinates.
“Many of these fired staff had left the university and now working in other universities outside Makerere, while others we also don’t know where they are at the moment.
They were tarnishing the name of the university and we could not tolerate that. I am sure that those people were given a fair hearing to defend themselves before the appointment board so everything was done legally.”
However, regarding Stella Nyanzi’s controversy between government and Makerere university management, Nawangwe highlighted that she was not fired only that her contract expired in bad period. Something he said has nothing to do with controversy.
“The contract expired irrespective of those things and by the way there are so many people at Makerere who are criticising the government but nobody has touched them. So, the fact is that her contract expired, it is just that it was not the right time but it expired and she has not requested it to be renewed.”
Dr Stella Nyanzi, was a research fellow at Makerere institute of Social Research (MISR). She is currently on remand in Luzira prison on charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication.
Nawangwe also said that although they need more staff to run daily activities, they will not retain undisciplined people.
He went further and advised them to petition the university tribunal instead of running to parliament.
On January 17, 2019, Nawangwe suspended Makerere University Staff Chairperson Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi accusing him of inciting staff with intent of causing disobedience, computer misuse and undermining administration.
The suspension comes at the backdrop of disagreement between staff association and the University Administration headed by Professor Barnabas Nawangwe.
Nawangwe claims despite various warnings issued to Kamunyu he maintained a deaf ear and went ahead to hold unlawful activities.
Kamunyu’s suspension is the genesis of current wrangles at Makerere University including lecturers sit down strike which left students crying after missing lectures for close to two weeks.
Makerere staff laid down tools on the 18thof January at the start of the 2nd semester following suspension of some colleagues.
They claim some of their members were sacked over unclear reasons.
“We reaffirm the resolution on the withdrawal of labour with effect from January 18th until our demands are met. We also denounce in the strongest term possible, the suspension of another association leader Dr Deus Kamunyu, the MUASA chairperson.”
So, as a result, they resolved to freeze their services until their demands are addressed by the university.
Now following lecturers strike student’s guild also threatened to mobilise student’s strike in 48hrs if at all management doesn’t respond to their injustices and resolve their issues immediately for student’s to have their lecturers.
On January 20, 2019, Nawangwe again ‘fired’ Makerere University Public Relations Officer Ms Rita Namisango which caused a stir on social media accountsand this left many criticizing Professor Barnabas Nawangwe for running the university like his home.
Professor Nawangwe appointed Dr Mohammad Kigundu Musoke as the acting manager communications and international relations.
Professor Nawangwe is also accused of bribing and threatening student leaders planning to fight for the rights of students.
He has been referred to as a dictator who does not give any one chance to challenge them, he suspends students, staff members without the approval of committees.
However, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe has also earned successe in different sections and also achieved a lot on behalf of the University.
- He has managed to rebrand the name of the institution through different alliances with different organisations
- His introduction of a new self-automated system that allows students to pay directly through a system
- Sources indicate that Nawangwe has also managed to provide transcripts to graduates just a few days after graduation.
- The professor has also succeeded in reducing on strikes at Makerere University either through suspension of students and dialogue
- Reconstruction of university premises
- He has maintained sanitation on the university
- Nawangwe also helped Makerere to obtain an opportunity to host the International Netball competitions last year where Uganda emerged winners
- Security at the university was strengthened
- Discipline among students and staff members has also improved
Among several other achievement
The question remains to you, has Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the only Architectural Professor in Africa succeeded as the Vice Chancellor of the greatest institution in Uganda and the Harvard of Africa?
It’s up to you to leave a comment for us.