Makerere University staff associations find themselves grappling with mounting frustration due to the University Council’s prolonged failure to inaugurate a new Staff Appeals Tribunal, despite the appointment of a new chairperson two months ago.
In August, Dr. Henry Michael Onoria assumed the role of the Chairperson of the Staff Appeals Tribunal, ending a five-month period of inactivity following the suspension of Justice Patrick Tabaro by the University Council. His official start date was slated for October 1, 2023.
Dr. Onoria’s appointment came in response to persistent appeals from Makerere University Staff Associations, including the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa), the Makerere Administrative Staff Association (Masa), and the National Union of Education Institutions (Nuei). These associations had penned multiple letters, urging the Chancellor’s intervention in the matter.
The Staff Appeals Tribunal has traditionally served as a crucial platform for university staff facing dismissal, allowing them to contest the decisions of the Appointments Board and obtain a fair and unbiased hearing. However, since its suspension, the tribunal has lain dormant.
The suspension of the staff tribunal has been a source of concern for many university employees, as it effectively removed a significant avenue for seeking redress when facing dismissal. Presently, a substantial number of staff members find themselves entangled in various internal proceedings, jeopardizing their job security.
In response, the University Chancellor appointed a new chairperson to oversee the tribunal, which offered some reassurance to the university staff community.
Nonetheless, a letter dated October 27, 2023, jointly signed by three staff associations – Muasa, Masa, and Nuei – and addressed to the University Council Chairperson, has questioned the rationale behind the prolonged delay in reinstating the tribunal, considering the new Chairperson’s appointment.
The letter raises questions: “Why is it taking so long for the Staff Tribunal to be inaugurated to commence business? Do you take pride in the agony of the appellants who badly need justice?”
The letter also criticizes the University Secretary, Mr. Kiranda, for removing appellants from the payroll, even though the law entitles these employees to half pay until their cases are concluded. The staff associations inquire whether there is premeditated malice in the management of staff affairs in certain cases.
Efforts to seek comments from acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Umar Kakumba and University Secretary Yusuf Kiranda proved unsuccessful, as neither responded to inquiries sent to their known telephone contacts.
Key Players Involved in the Appeals Tribunal Issue
|Chairperson (Appointed)||Dr. Henry Michael Onoria|
|Former Chairperson||Justice Patrick Tabaro|
|Staff Associations||Muasa, Masa, Nuei|
|University Chancellor||[Name not specified in the article]|
|University Vice-Chancellor||Professor Barnabas Nawangwe|
|Acting Vice-Chancellor||Professor Umar Kakumba|
|University Secretary||Yusuf Kiranda|