The Makerere Joint Staff Associations has urged the Uganda Law Society (ULS) to uphold its independence in the nomination for its representative to the University Appointment Board. Their aim is to prevent potential compromise by the University council.
In a letter dated November 16th, 2023 the staff, represented by the Makerere University Academic Staff Association, Makerere Administrative Staff Association, and the National Union of Education Institutions, addressed this plea to Moses Okwalinga, the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Law Society.
Their concern arose from Okwalinga’s call on November 8th for a ULS nominee to serve on the Makerere University Appointments Board. Okwalinga stated that the Council and vetting committee established by the President would have discretion in selecting the most suitable nominee, considering various criteria and prevailing circumstances.
The Joint Staff, in their letter, perceives this note as a potential collusion between the Law Society President and some members of the Makerere University Council to clandestinely nominate a representative aligned with the Council’s interests rather than truly representing the Uganda Law Society. They argue against this provision, emphasizing that the nominee should be from the Uganda Law Society, not merely a nominee of the Makerere University Council.
A segment of the Joint Staff’s letter reads, “As staff, we strongly reject this provision, and behest that the ULS should maintain her independence in the election of a nominee to the Makerere University Appointments Board,” reads part of the Joint Staff letter.
An anonymous source informed URN that suspicions exist regarding a covert agreement between the Uganda Law Society President and the University Council to appoint a candidate favored by the Council, rather than one representing the Society.
The source highlighted the significance of an independent nominee, emphasizing that this position in the charter is meant to provide unbiased legal guidance to the University Council on labor and legal matters related to employment, contracts, and terminations.
“An independent nominee would tell them without any fear or favor that here you are stumbling or not, but a member who is not independent and who is likely to collude with a section of members of the appointments board will not independently advise the appointments board, and actually that is the biggest challenge we are seeing ahead, these people may want someone who may not tell them the truth.”
The source added This development follows previous concerns raised by the staff, just four months ago, regarding the alleged nomination of Innocent Kihika as the ULS representative to the University Appointments Board. Although Kihika had not been officially nominated, the staff opposed his potential candidacy citing past shortcomings during his short-term tenure.
They argued that Kihika was part of several decisions they deemed incorrect, contributing to their skepticism about his suitability for a long-term position. Additionally, the staff has long advocated for the reinstatement of the University Staff Appeals Tribunal, which was recently suspended due to the chairperson, Justice Patrick Tabaro, lacking the necessary qualifications.
The tribunal played a crucial role in providing an alternative avenue for dismissed University staff to challenge the decisions of the Appointments Board, seeking fair hearings.