Who is Professor Juma Wasswa Balunywa?
Who is Professor Juma Wasswa Balunywa?

Who is Professor Juma Wasswa Balunywa? Flash Uganda Media looks at his biography, early life, education, family and academic career of the current Principal of Makerere University Business School (MUBS)

Professor Juma Wasswa Balunywa is a Ugandan scholar in management, leadership and entrepreneurship. He is also an academic administrator, Principal of Makerere University Business School (MUBS), a public institution of higher education in Uganda. He’s best known for academics.

He has been credited with having revolutionized business education and spearheading the private students’ scheme in Uganda that has become a model for many universities across the country and region.

Early Life and Education

Prof. Juma Wasswa Balunywa was born in Kasolo Village, Bulamagi County, in Iganga District, on 3 December 1955.

He attended Mwiri Primary School for his elementary school, then Jinja College for his O-Level education and later Namasagali College, for his A-Level studies.

Balunywa holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree obtained in 1979 from the University of Delhi in India. He also has a Master of Business Administration, also awarded by the same university in 1981. 

His Doctor of Philosophy in Entrepreneurship was awarded in 2009, by the University of Stirling, in the United Kingdom.

Work and Experience 

Balunywa started his academic career as a lecturer in 1983, in the then Department of Commerce at Makerere University. In 1987, he was appointed a senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting, Banking and Finance, also at Makerere, serving there from 1987 until 1990.

He then served as Dean Faculty of Commerce, Makerere University from 1991 to 1998. In 1997, he was instrumental in the creation of Makerere University Business School (MUBS).

MUBS was created in 1997 by the merger of the former faculty of Commerce at Makerere University and the then National College of Business Studies, Nakawa. Prof. Balunywa headed MUBS as its inception in 1997 as the school’s first Director.

In 1998, the position of Director was changed to Principal. In June 2018, Wasswa Balunywa began another three-year term as the Principal of MUBS.

professor Juma Waswa Balunywa
Wasswa Balunywa served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Uganda.

Other considerations

Wasswa Balunywa served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Uganda, the country’s central bank and national banking regulator, from 2001 until 2012. He was the serving board chairman of Uganda Airlines, at the time of its liquidation in 2001.

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Balunywa is the Patron of the Balunywa Foundation in memory of his late father who disappeared under mysterious circumstances during Idi Amin’s regime. The foundation focuses on helping needy youth and women in obtaining vocational skills for self-sustenance.

Throughout the years, Museveni has shown admiration for Balunywa, praising him as a person that has always been on the right side of the liberation ideology.

Prof. Balunywa has been credited with having revolutionized business education and spearheading the private students’ scheme in Uganda that has become a model for many universities across the country and region.

He was appointed senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting, Banking and Finance, also at Makerere serving there from 1987 until 1990.

President Museveni, met Prof. Balunywa during the Christmas holiday 2019, praising him as a good manager who has offered good direction to MUBS.

Prof. Balunywa led a delegation of the MUBS staff association members to the Presidents Country home in Rwakitura on December 29 2019.

The President has before praised, Prof. Balunywa especially when he ordered the First Lady and Education minister Janet Kataha Museveni to extend his term at MUBS in May 2018, writing on May 28, 2018, that the MUBS chief “has always been on the right side of the liberation ideology” and had given the MUBS institution good leadership without strikes.

“I have never found him averse to advice the few times I have interacted with him. Such a person is always good to work with,” Mr Museveni wrote.

President Museveni lauded him for advancing the school’s direction and discipline. He said that academic disciplines taught at universities should be tailored to the needs of society and the job market, address and promotes the concept of Wealth Creation.

He directed Prof. Balunywa to ensure that the university gives appropriate training to students focusing on job creation and entrepreneurship.

“I encourage you to promote Information, Communication Technology (ICT) and other science based courses,” he said noting that science is at the centre of the transformation of society.

“Therefore as educationists, you must emphasize science thus contribute to social transformation,” he directed.

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Regarding remuneration, Museveni said his administration is address starting with that of academic staffs first and nonacademic staff in due course.

“Government is committed to improving remuneration of all staff, but in a phased manner,” the president said.

The closed meeting was attended by Minister of education and sports, Janet Museveni and other officials from the Ministry.  

However, the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Kataha Museveni the First Lady of Uganda rejected his contract renewal as MUBS Principal.

The First Lady directed the Education Service Commission, which is the appointing body, to kick start the process of finding a replacement.

The letter was written on April 11, 2018, to the Chairman Education Service Commission, the First Lady said the position should be advertised as soon as the Education Ministry Permanent Secretary avails to the Commission the specifications for the job contrary to what the President had directed.

The purpose of this letter is to request you that Education Service Commission finalizes the process of appointment of the next principal of MUBS before the contract of the current one expires to avoid a leadership vacuum,” the First Lady’s letter reads in part. 

The Universities and Other Tertiary institutions Act, 2001, tasks the Education Service Commission to appoint principles and deputy principals for public tertiary institutions such as MUBS.

But finally, the First Lady agreed to renew his contract. Prof. Balunywa’s tenure has had mixed results, he has been praised for maintaining the institution’s semi-autonomous status amid pressures to merge with the parent institution, Makerere University.

He has overseen the growth of the student numbers to about 17,000 by the end of 2016.

The institution’s field of research has grown and now has collaboration with about 15 universities at regional and international levels. It has collaborations with the University of Nairobi, University of Dar-es-salaam, and Mountain Kenya University, University of Edinburg and others, especially with research in doctoral programs.

However, he has in the past been accused of corruption. In 2013 a whistleblower sent a dossier to Parliament, accusing Prof Balunywa of using the school’s money to treat his mother, supplying goods to the institution in breach of procurement regulations and mismanaging a computer project, allegations he vehemently denied.

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Prof. Balunywa was first appointed to the position in 2003, and had three five-year contract extension to the job, with the last one that expired on May 3, 2018, and currently on a three-year contract renewed in 2018. 

professor Wasswa Balunywa
Balunywa started his academic career as a lecturer in 1983, in the then Department of Commerce at Makerere University.

Prof. Wasswa Balunywa’s achievements at Makerere University

Prof. Wasswa Balunywa is credited for starting private sponsorship and evening classes at the then faculty of commerce at MUK in the early 1990s. 

The country then had almost only one University yet students number trying to join was increasing by the day. The situation was desperate. It was disoriented, pro-imperialist academia.

Prof Balunywa is also credited for starting regional campuses for MUBS. These have helped to reduce congestion in Kampala, making university education affordable in Uganda and enabling many to access quality education.

He is one of the few geniuses we have, an original thinker, and his thinking isn’t fixed in a box.

 Prof. Wasswa Balunywa to women leadership managers

Years back in June 2007, Prof. Balunywa said companies should employ women in top managerial positions if substantial results are to be achieved during a Commonwealth workshop on business and gender reporting at Speke Report Munyonyo in Kampala.

It is preferable to have women managers for stability. Although socialization and gender issues tend to hold them back, they are good at decision-making, said Prof. Wasswa Balunywa, the Principal of Makerere University Business School (MUBS).

Women may get pregnant or deliver and keep away. Yet despite these shortcomings, they give better results. They are better executors, reliable and more stable than men. He added.

The workshop was organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat and MUBS, aimed at improving women journalists understanding of finance and business issues.

Balunywa asked women to prove their worth at their workplaces, despite the challenges of motherhood.

Whether you have children or not, how good are you at work? If you are good, nothing will stand in your way, said Balunywa.

Gender is not about women and girls, but the widening gap between boys and girls. 

In some homes, there is direct marginalization even in feeding; a pregnant woman ears the leftovers after the husband has had his meal. Balunywa roots for women managers.