Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe has said when he assumed office in September 2017, the university had significantly deteriorated in discipline, with some deans behaving wrongly.
“Discipline had greatly deteriorated at Makerere because there were too many power centres at schools and faculties and some deans were even more powerful than the Vice Chancellor.
They could do all kinds of things and nobody could say a word (to them) and that was giving a university a terrible image,” he said on Saturday, May 28.
Nawangwe made the remarks on a weekly Urban TV morning talk show, Press Wall. The two-hour show tackled issues around Makerere’s just-ended 72nd graduation ceremony and the fire that gutted the main building in September 2020, among others.
“So what we set out to do is to restore discipline and restoring discipline is not dictatorship.
Some people think Makerere is a political organization, but even political organizations have discipline, they even suspend and expel members.
We are supposed to be the most disciplined institution maybe after the army because we are dealing with very serious business,” he said, dismissing claims that he is a dictator.
“We are producing the human resource which is supposed to run the affairs of this country. We are producing doctors; which kind of doctors do you want to produce? Undisciplined people, who go and mess around with people’s lives and their health?
Do you want to produce engineers who may have the technical knowledge but who lack discipline and integrity and you end up with lots of accidents killing people? So when we say we must have discipline in the institution it is not dictatorship; it is what we are expected to do,” he stated.
Nawangwe argued that is what all major universities that they admire do. “You can’t go to Oxford University or Harvard and wake up in the morning and say now, we are not teaching because you have not done this.
For God’s sake, are you in the market? People have brought their children here (Makerere) to study and they have paid their money, people are doing research and you want every other day the university to close? Then how are we going to develop as a country?” he asked.
He noted that the development of the country is very much dependent on what they do at the universities.
“So if we are messing up then the whole country will just be like that. So the issue of discipline cannot be debated. I have been asked many times even in Parliament and I have said no I am not relenting on discipline.
Those allegations that we are targeting people of particular parties are all not true because the majority of the students we have had to deal with a claim to be supporting the ruling party,” he stated.
The Vice-Chancellor said people must take politics out of Makerere. “Don’t bring politics into Makerere; we shall deal with it because this institution is an asset for every Ugandan irrespective of what they believe in. So for us we are above that (partisan politics) and we will keep above that to make sure we do a good job for this country,” he said.
He also wondered why his critics call him a dictator when he just implements policies approved by the university council. “People can say I am a disciplinarian probably, but not a dictator,” Nawangwe said.