Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, says that he not ready to relent on his mission to restore discipline at the country’s prime university.
He said on Friday that a section of staff and students have been underestimating his administration but vowed to punish university staff who engage in activities that are likely to antagonise the university’s programmes.
According to Nawangwe, Makerere is a highly reputable institution across the globe but is marred by a culture of indiscipline, which manifests in endless strikes by students and staff members.
He, however, said that is determined to change the status quo under his administration.
Prof Nawangwe made the stand on the side-lines of the swearing in ceremony new leaders of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa).
Ever since Prof Nawangwe assumed leadership at Makerere, he has cracked a whip on several staff and students for alleged indiscipline and hooliganism.
In 2018, Prof Nawangwe suspended several students for allegedly inciting violence and threatening to disrupt university programmes over tuition increment.
The students included among others; Daniel Kituno, Jobs Dhabona, Samuel Kigula and Obed Obed-Giu Kwokuboth Jalmeo.
Towards the end of 2018, Prof Nawangwe’s leadership dismissed 45 teaching and non-teaching staff over offences ranging from sexually harassing students, insubordination, fraud, absconding from duty, among others.
This was followed with the suspension of Mr Bennet Magara, the chairperson of the Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA) and his general secretary, Mr Joseph Kalema for alleged insubordination.
The staff had challenged the Prof Nawangwe’s involvement into staff association affairs.
In 2019, Prof Nawangwe suspended Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the MUASA chairperson on accusation of engaging in acts intended to cause disobedience; undermining the university administration, intimidating university officials, using abusive language and making false statements against management.
Dr Kamunyu who has been returned as Muasa chairperson said on Friday that while they don’t condone indiscipline, threats on staff welfare demands and needs might not work.
He argued that as a free academic, anyone who works in an academic institution must respect the rule of law and open discourse and must have the brain muscle to engage and arrive at plausible answers to the current problems facing the institution.
Mr Daniel Fred Kidega, the vice chairperson of Makerere University Council said all university officials must adhere to institutional rules and regulations.
Mr Kidega argued that while it is important to get rid of indiscipline, it cannot be done at the expense of justice and good governance mechanisms.
Prof Nawangwe fell out with the leadership of Makerere School of Law last year, after it issued legal opinions indicating that he didn’t have powers to suspend staff or appoint a committee to investigate employees.
Prof John-Jean Barya, a constitutional and labour law teacher said that Prof Nawangwe’s administration is wrong for stifling academic freedoms of both staff and students.
He said that it is important for both students and staff to rise up to the occasion and challenge the status quo.