KAMPALA –Makerere University Council has directed the Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe to account for the funds earmarked for the just-ended Convocation elections.
The move, according to sources, is part of the measures targeting to control excesses in the University management.
Following chaotic scenes that characterised the election exercise last Friday, Council decided to come-up with modified Statutes that would give it as well as the University Management a role in the affairs of the association of graduates and staff of the university.
In a letter addressed to Prof Nawangwe, chairperson, Lorna Magara said the decisions by the Council were in response to what she described as ‘the adverse developments surrounding Makerere University Convocation, including the elections for the Executive Committee.’
The election that saw George Mugabi Turyamureeba elected Convocation boss, remain unchallenged despite ugly scenes, in addition to assertions from two of the contestants – Charles Odongtho and Gerald Karuhanga.
Magara said in her letter that petitions from the aggrieved parties highlighting the lack of accountability were already at her desk.
“I have also been copied in petitions concerning the December 30, elections…and other matters, such as the alleged three-year failure of the current Convocation Executive Committee to convene annual general meetings as required by law and an apparent absence of accountability for the funds advanced from the University budget to the Convocation,” read the Magara letter, in parts.
The Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, which establishes the Convocation allows it to exercise powers and perform such functions as the statutes, may confer on it.
However, according to Magara, the enactment of a public University’s statutes is a mandate of the Council under the same law.
She notes, however, that Makerere University Convocation is currently governed by a constitution, which does not provide a role for the University Management or Council in the association’s affairs. But according to her, it is now clear that the two must have a role to play.
“As the recent developments have demonstrated, any failure on the part of the Convocation bears significant implications for the University Management and Council in the lens of the stakeholders,” she wrote.
The Council has now decided to prioritise the enactment of a statute to address what they call the established lacunas in the existing legal framework.
As a short-term response, however, Magara said the University must act on the chaos during the Convocation Executive Committee elections, and also address the allegations of lack of accountability for the financial resources advanced by the University to the Convocation.
The letter asks Prof Nawangwe to provide a report on the chaos that occurred on the University premises on Friday, where evidence in still and video pictures circulated showing the exercise turning rowdy as members and candidates attempted to reign in on the election managers over mishandling of the process. During the same exercise, pictures of armed soldiers roughing up and dragging some members out of the election venue were widely shared. At least, three ended up behind bars.
Nawangwe was also tasked to submit, not later than January 9, 2023, a schedule of all payments from the University to the Convocation over the last four years.
The same letter directed Prof Nawangwe to obtain from the Convocation the respective accountabilities of all funds transferred to it from the University for the last four years and subject them to an audit.
The requested information would form a informed view in guiding Council’s necessary action on the matters of the Convocation.
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who claimed to have received instructions from Karuhanga and Odongtho to commence a court process, insisted that Tanga Odoi – the chairman of the Convocation had no legal mandate to conduct the election exercise.
He said that the Chairman’s role in such at exercise, would have stopped at convening the general assembly – because the election was the duty of the Academic Registrar, whom, however, he calimed was never involved in any way.
Lukwago, also the Kampala Lord Mayor added Dr Tanga Odoi should carry the blame for the ugly scenes that characterised the Friday event. He insinuated that Dr Odoi was used to manipulating election result – which is a reserve of the NRM – where he serves as the Electoral Commission chairperson.
Odoi said he was ready to explain his actions in court over any accusations. However, on the chaos itself, said he invited security intervention to prevent loss of lives –‘averting what would have been a disaster at Makerere University.
Additional reporting by URN