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Investigation: Row over Kyambogo varsity jobs

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th August 2010 03:00 AM

KEY positions of the University secretary and academic registrar are at the centre of the controvesy.

KEY positions of the University secretary and academic registrar are at the centre of the controvesy.

KEY positions of the University secretary and academic registrar are at the centre of the controvesy. Charles Ariko reports

A row has erupted over the recruitment of the replacement of top Kyambogo University officials whose contracts expired last month. At the centre of controversy are the key positions of university secretary and the academic registrar.

Sources say the delay in filling the positions is a result of a rift between two council committees over the requisite qualifications for the posts. The Appointments Committee reportedly wants the qualifications lowered, a move seen as an attempt to accommodate certain favoured candidates.

However, the Establishment and Administration Board, which, by law, is charged with setting recruitments standards, wants the doctorate of philosophy (PhD) qualification for the academic registrar and a master’s degree in administration or management for the university secretary, adhered to.

The board set the qualifications based on recommendations of K2-Informatrics, a consultancy firm hired to advise on restructuring the university which currently has a student enrolment of 12,000.

“Legally, the university currently has no accounting officer as a result of this in-fighting,” observed a senior university official.

The university secretary is the accounting officer. “This is a grave matter as some of his decisions can be challenged in courts of law,” added the source, who preferred anonymity.

Patrick Wadaya has been the acting University Secretary, but his contract expired on June 30, 2010 and the University Council, the top policy and decision-making organ, was yet to meet to renew it.

“Wadaya was appointed by the University Council to act as the accounting officer for a duration not exceeding one financial year, within which a substantive university secretary should have been appointed,” said the source.

When contacted on telephone, the vice chancellor, Prof. Isaiah Ndiege, said he was on leave and could not comment on what was happening at the university.

The university spokesmen, Lawrence Madete, and James Bulenzibuto also declined to comment.

Top positions at the university, including that of the university secretary, fell vacant in September last year after the Inspector General of Government (IGG) said the appointment of the officials were fraught with fraud, manipulation, connivance and collusion. The then vice chancellor, Prof. Lutalo Bbosa; his deputy B.D Mpandey, and the university secretary, Goretti Katushabe, were retired.

The disagreement over the vacancies came to the limelight recently when two different offices placed conflicting adverts in newspapers.

The posts were first advertised in March this year by the office of the deputy vice chancellor for finance and administration. The advert stipulated that the applicants for the position of university secretary needed a minimum qualification of a master’s degree in either administration, human resource, management or organisational psychology from an institution recognised by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), plus a 10 years’ experience in university administration. A PhD would be an added advantage.

The same advert required candidates for the position of academic registrar to have a minimum of a PhD in educational planning and management or curriculum, plus a 10 years’ experience in university administration.

But in June, the Office of the University Secretary also placed newspaper adverts inviting applications for the same posts, but this time with lower qualifications.

For both positions, the advert said the applicants had to have a master’s degree in a relevant field, plus a postgraduate diploma in public administration, educational management, human resource or general management while equivalent professional qualification would be an added advantage.

Sources said the second advert, lowering the qualifications was not sanctioned by the Establishment Committee, as should have been the case. Both committees report to the University Council.

“The Appointments Board has hijacked the functions of the Establishment and Administration Committee and this may result in factionalism which is not good for the university,” said the source.

When contacted, the council chairperson, James Kalebo, downplayed the conflict.

“I don’t think this would cause any crisis,” Kalebo said on telephone.

On the conflicting adverts, Kalebo said the Appointments Board made a recommendation to council which agreed to down grade the qualifications for the positions. He did not disclose the justification for the decision. He also clarified that it was the responsibility of the Office of the University Secretary to place newspaper adverts and not that of the Deputy Vice Chancellor.

However, in a June 2, 2010 confidential note to Kalebo, the staff representative to Council warned against manipulation in filling the positions, which might throw the university back into the past chaos.

“One of the factors that brought about unrest in Kyambogo University in 2005 and 2006 was manipulation of Council by some individuals in the university management by using the Appointments Board to change set criteria and qualification requirements for appointments to suit themselves,” observed the correspondent which Kalebo denied receiving.

“This was done without going through the established procedures and relevant committee of Council. This weakness is highlighted in both the Cabinet Committee Report on Unrest and Strike at Kyambogo University (2007) and the IGG report on Investigations into Corruption and Mismanagement of Kyambogo University (2007).

“There is need to re-define boundaries in the roles of Council, Council committees and management and operate within those boundaries as it was clear from the report that the board was doing part of the work of the management, part of the work of its own sub-committees which have not met for a long time, and part of the work of the Establishment and Administration Committee. Some individuals in management are now exploiting this weakness to cause friction in some operations of the university,” the staff warned, calling on Council to take the matter seriously since it was likely to have negative implications.

Kyambogo University was created in 2003 as a merger between the Institute of Teacher Education Kyambogo (ITEK), Uganda National Institute of Special Needs Education (UNISE) and Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo (UPK).

However, since its creation, the university has suffered a number of both student and staff unrests blamed on corruption, mismanagement and failure to handle the merger process. Staff in the latter two institutions, whose entry qualifications were lower than those of ITEK, feel disenfranchised.

The IGG’s investigations had pointed out that Section 3 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act made merging the three institutions almost impossible.

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Investigation: Row over Kyambogo varsity jobs

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