The NRM National Workers’ League has criticized the decision by the Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe to suspend the Chairman of the academic staff (MUASA), Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi and other leaders of staff Associations.
The workers’ league of the ruling NRM party said the suspension of the leaders was uncalled for.
Last week, the Vice Chancellor wrote to Dr Muhwezi who is a lecturer in the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism informing him that he had been suspended for persistently engaging in acts of misconduct and incitement with the intent to cause disobedience and strikes, despite various warnings.
Prof Nawangwe also accuses Muhwezi of engaging in acts that bring the university and university officials into disrepute, intimidation of university officials, using abusive and/or insulting language, slander, insubordination, making false statements among others.
Last year, the Univeristy dismissed over 40 staff for various reasons including misconduct and absconding from duty. The dismissed staff also included leaders in the Makerere Administrative Staff Association; Bennet Magara (Chairman) and Kalema Joseph (General Secretary).
In a statement released Monday, the NRM National Workers’ League Chairman, James Tweheyo has expressed concern over Prof Nawangwe’s actions.
“We have noted with concern the actions taken by the Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe on the leadership of the University Staff Association. Whereas we commend the Vice Chancellor for decisively working on the discipline and revamping the University glory, we are concerned by the way the university is handling issues of staff,” Tweheyo said in a statement.
The NRM workers’ league says the actions of the VC are an attempt to gag the Associations and goes ahead to question whose interests Prof Nawangwe is acting.
“In our view, the suspension of the leaders of the Staff Associations was an action not called for at this very moment and the Vice Chancellor handled it personal,” Tweheyo said.
He questions why Nawangwe did not instead opt to submit the concerns and subject to the relevant University disciplinary organs so that they take appropriate action.
Tweheyo says the workers’ leaders will not look on as workers at Makerere are trampled on. This, he said, risks having a ripple effect on other public universities and creating unnecessary paralysis, to the students’ detriment.
“We commend the staff for standing with their leadership and encourage them to remain calm and firm but open to discussion. We also call upon the Vice Chancellor to swallow humble pie and call off the suspension of the Association leadership and if they have any issues, let him present them to the relevant university organs for scrutiny and action”.
Relatedly, the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) Chairman General, Usher Wilson Owere, has also said that the dismissal and suspension of Makerere university staff is likely to create an impression that leaders of workers’ organizations are being witch-hunted for their involvement in workers’ struggles.
“Our opinion is that these matters should be treated with a lot of care because it affects not just Makerere but the various stakeholders as well. It is our view that there is still room for dialogue and a very high chance of reaching an agreement. This situation should not be allowed to escalate,” Owere said on Monday.