Mbarara: Tension is mounting at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), and as you read this, the academic staff members have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, over what they term as irregular interdiction of the University’s Public Relations Officer (PRO).
In their petition dated June 13, 2019, addressed to Kadaga, they contend that the matter of threatening violence as alleged by Vice Chancellor Prof. Celestino Obua, cannot be pursued by him and the University Secretary Melchior Byaruhanga, who are currently under scrutiny following the staffs’ accusation of misconduct and mismanagement of the University, as contained in their petition of April, 04 which was addressed to the University Council. They also accuse the University management of continued harassment. It should be noted that Denis Lukaaya (PRO), was interdicted in a letter dated June, 07th, 2019 for allegedly threatening violence against Prof. Obua, which he (Obua) said arose from a meeting which the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Sports held on May, 09, 2019 with the University top management.
The meeting which was attended by leaders of the academic staff’s associations, staff representatives and top management at Kihumuro main compass, had an agenda of paving the way for dialogue on resolving a number of issues including both the staff and students strikes which were ongoing. The University employees under their umbrella association of Mbarara University of Science and Technology Academic Staff Association (MUSTASA) held a general assembly on Monday June 10th, 2019 and issued an ultimatum of 48 hours to Mr. Byaruhanga to withdraw the suspension letters. The decision to petition the Speaker came after the 48-hour ultimatum elapsed “The letters of allegations and interdiction from University Secretary Byaruhanga were written and delivered on the same day June, 07 without giving the accused a chance to defend himself,” the petition reads in part.“This clearly violates the principle of natural justice. It was not only unfortunate but is also not in line with the disciplinary procedures stipulated in MUST’s human resource manual 2010(as amended 2018)” Reads an excerpt from the petition.
It adds that “…this is sheer abuse of authority and prejudice on the side of both the University Secretary who wrote the letters and the Vice Chancellor who made the allegations about PRO Denis Lukaaya. Before petitioning your office as the right Honorable speaker, an opportunity was given to the University Secretary to withdraw the two letters and reinstate Lukaaya to his office. However, Byaruhanga has since chosen to remain silent on this matter and the staff have no choice but to address the matter to your kind attention to action.” the petition further reads. Julius Taremwa, the General Secretary for MUSTASA confirmed petitioning the Speaker since what they agreed in the meeting of May, 9 when they met with the parliamentary Committee on Education and Sports hasn’t been fulfilled by the University Council. They had mutually agreed that there shouldn’t be any staff harassment, interdiction and that the search committee to have the new Vice Chancellor immediately commences its work and a forensic audit be carried out about the alleged mismanagement of University funds within two weeks. Taremwa confirmed that nothing has been worked on. “Things seem to be the same ever since we met with the Committee, we were requested to suspend our industrial action as they handle our grievances which we did, but none of the agreed resolutions has been implemented. They should know that we just suspended, we did not stop, and we are still cocked if nothing is done then we shall resume from where we stopped.” Taremwa asserted.