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By Mulengera Reporters 

In September 2019, the Prof Ezra Suruuma-led Makerere University advertised the position of Principal for the College of Health Sciences. And this was inspite of the fact that the high-performing Prof Charles Ibingira, who had just completed his 4 year term and was eligible for and interested in reappointment, was very much available and had indicated readiness to carry on. He considered himself suitable for reappointment upon assessment.

Not one to just give up like that, Prof Ibingira prepared to apply and seek reappointment. His dream was, however, curtailed when the authorities at the Ivory Tower departed from provisions of Section 6.1(a) ii of the Makerere staff manual and imposed a requirement of PhD for all applicants. This contradicted the practice and exemption in place shielding dons from the “clinical scholarly” background from being subjected to that PhD requirement when seeking promotion. In the case of such “clinical scholars” one can over time acquire other “advanced qualifications” which don’t have to strictly be a PhD or any other academic doctorates. It’s clear now that this requirement was imposed by foes in top management, Senate and Council just to overcome Ibingira who, on getting aggrieved, teamed up with others to challenge the entire Principal recruitment exercise which had resulted into the inadequately experienced Prof Damalia Nakanjako getting the job.

On becoming aggrieved along with Ibingira, the other disgruntled dons namely Dr. David Katete, Dr. Hawa Nalwoga and Dr. Mondo Charles Kiiza teamed up with more than 30 others to challenge the recruitment in the High Court under Judicial Review (M/Cause No. 001 of 2021). The matter was allocated to Justice Esta Nambayo whose 2nd September 2021 judgment quashes the entire process and directs Makerere to repeat the entire recruitment afresh. She faults the University Senate, Council and the Chancellor Prof Ezra Suruuma for acting “arbitrarily, irrationally and unlawfully” (simply because they wanted to fix Ibingira, Prof Moses Joloba and others) and thereby making all the constituent decisions “null and void.”

Justice Nambayo agrees with the applicants that it was unlawful, irrational and ultravires for the University to alter the relevant Statutory Instrument relating to the recruitment of the Principal for the College of Health Sciences months after the advert had gone out calling for applications. The alteration of the SI bestowed the Principal search committee with plenty of discretionally powers which allowed them leeway to act improperly in order to achieve the broader objective of locking out Prof Ibingira, Moses Joloba, Prof Jacinta Opara, Dr. Charles Kiiza Mondo and others who were considered undesirable.

In the case of the highly qualified and suitable Prof Joloba, the University authorities locked him out of the shortlist simply because they considered him not ethically or morally upright enough.  He was written off as a man of wanting integrity and no details were adduced to corroborate and particularize his lack of integrity. The others like Prof Jacinta Opara were, according to the judge’s findings, locked out of the shortlist on grounds they lacked 4 years of experience yet even Prof Damalie Nakanjako, who eventually was prized the job, was equally inexperienced just like them.

That for Makerere to alter the SI in the manner they did was an ultravires act because they had no power nor authority to do so. The judge also faults the University Council, where now AG Kiwanuka Kiryowa has always been an influential member, for not adequately giving attention to the petition Prof Ibingira and other aggrieved College staffers originated raising a red flag on why they believed the recruitment process had gotten mired into incurable procedural irregularities. That the Council’s decision not to adequately inquire into the petition amounted to the aggrieved dons’ right to be heard being violated; contrary to principles of natural justice.

Isaac Semakadde, who has over the years distinguished himself as the attorney of the voiceless dons at Makerere whose battles he has frequently won against the University top management, represented the applicants and made strong arguments and submissions on their behalf and in the process swayed the judge in his clients’ favor. On the other hand, the University was represented by Hudson Musoke majority of whose arguments were dust-binned by the judge for not being prudent enough.

At the end of her 20 pages ruling, Justice Nambayo invalidated the appointment of Prof Damalie Nakanjako as the Principal for the Mulago-based College. That it was “illegal, irrational and procedurally improper” for Makerere to go ahead with Nakanjako’s appointment “during the pendency of the applicants’ petition against the entire recruitment process.” Makerere is also faulted for altering the eligibility criterion (regarding the exclusion of the clinical scholars) without adequately consulting all stakeholders (who naturally had equal legitimate expectation of promotion by their employer).

The judgment is to the effect that PhD or any other academic doctorate won’t be a requirement again in the recruitment of the Principal for the same College. Indeed, the applicants had asserted that one doesn’t require to have a PhD to make an excellent management or administrative leader (read Principal) at the College of Health Sciences. The judge also quashes all the processes, proceedings, reports and decisions that were proclaimed by the search committee, Senate, Council or even the Chancellor in relation to Prof Damalie Nakanjako’s appointment.

She also grants the order of Mandamus specifically directing Makerere to “conduct a fresh process of appointing the Principal for the College of Health Sciences in accordance with well laid down laws and procedures while bearing in mind the provisions of its Human Resource Manual.” Makerere, and not Prof Nakanjako who had benefited from the impugned illegalities, has also been ordered to pay costs in favor of Dr. Hawa Nalwoga and her 40 co-applicants.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at




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