MUK academic staff protests ongoing selection process

By Cecilia Okoth

MUASA called for the immediate halt to the ongoing process

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Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) has protested the ongoing selection process of principals and deputy principals, noting that the new system disenfranchises members of their rights to vote their leaders.

In a letter dated May 16 to the University Council chairperson, Eng. Dr. Charles Wana-Etyem, MUASA noted that the new system that was changed from Council to constituency is riddled with flaws.

"We note with regret that the process of selecting our leaders was changed without explanation from Council to the constituency. Hence the process has totally disenfranchised the members of their right to participate in selecting their leaders," the letter signed by Dr. Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke, the MUASA chairperson reads in part.

In the letter, MUASA called for the immediate halt to the ongoing process and that prospective candidates should make presentations to their respective constituencies and to the eminent organ of senate to allow for a transparent process of selecting leaders.

MUASA also demanded that a provision of new guidelines that cater for the academic staff participation in the initial selection of their leaders by voting be made.

"Excluding staff from their eminent right of voting is a demeaning act because there is no reason that can be given that professors teaching at a university do not have the brains to stand and vote for their leaders and instead pretend that the Council can identify leaders to throw at us," Kiggundu said in an interview with New Vision.

The academic staff is concerned that if the ongoing process continues, it will create centres of bribery and in the long run destroy Makerere University.

The letter was also copied to the Senate chairperson Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu, also the university's Vice Chancellor, deputy VC, university secretary, director human resource, academic registrar, university bursar, dean of students and the guild president.

Management speaks out

When contacted, Ddumba acknowledged receipt of the letter by MUASA and said he would bring the matter to the chairman of Council.

However, speaking to New Vision, Wana-Etyem who is the Council chairperson said, "The committees doing the search do not report to me so I cannot comment on that. But let us give the search process the chance to continue."

Rita Namisango, the university spokesperson confirmed that the ongoing search process begun several weeks ago after two search committees, one responsible for selecting principles and deputy principals in the College of Humanities and the other in the College of Sciences were set up.

"The respective search committees presented work plans to the University Council highlighting how they were going to undertake the exercise, which Council approved," Namisango said.

Previous process

Originally, when staff was allowed to elect, Kiggundu explained that the process would start with the search committee holding interviews with prospective candidates including verifying their CVs.

Thereafter, the second stage would include prospective candidates holding public presentations and are awarded marks according to their performance.

The final stage would include staff voting for candidates they deemed the best, which results are sent to Senate which then recommends to the Council to determine the final leader.

"The last stage has been kicked off by Council and has only considered the first two stages. We are protesting this move because Council should have policies that are pro people and pro institutional development that can prevail in the university," he said.