By Our Reporters
In their latest report, members of the Makerere Staff Appeals Tribunal (who concluded a retreat recently at a hotel in Kikoni) have exposed the weaknesses and excesses committed by Makerere University Director Legal Affairs Henry Mwebe. The latest indictment relates to the awkward manner in which Health Sciences College Deputy Principal Dr. Isaac Okullo and Health Sciences School Dean Dr. Rose Chalo Nabirye were unfairly relieved of their duties on grounds of incompetence. The very indicting Tribunal report also makes reference to Deputy College Registrar Fatuma Nakatudde and Senior Administrative Assistant Paul Apunyo who were equally ejected from office by the Mwebe-advised Appointments Board. The duo’s disgraceful dismissal was preceded by allegations that they had altered students’ marks leading to ineligible students finding their way onto the graduation list. It’s a matter Mulengera news extensively reported about some time last year.
Headed by George Omunyokol as Chairperson, the tribunal is the one to which aggrieved staff petition challenging any HR-related decisions taken by the appointments board whose members always invite Mwebe as a lawyer to conduct hearing sessions and to also eventually advise on the way forward. Many of the anomalies Mwebe is being faulted for occurred at a time Bruce Kabasa was serving as the chairman of the appointments board. The report accuses Mwebe of failing to advise the Board against some of the Kabasa era irregular decisions regarding the expelled staff. That the disciplinary hearing sessions that were conducted were irregular and didn’t amount to according one a fair hearing as required by the rules of natural justice.
During the Kikoni retreat, the staff appeals tribunal members consolidated the different appeals from staff and found that the disciplinary process leading to the apprehension of several staff members didn’t comply with basic principles of natural justice.
Ex-Board chairperson Bruce Kabasa is faulted for conducting defective disciplinary proceedings leading to miscarriage of justice in many cases. That he conducted business in a manner that permitted Mwebe to appear as the complainant, prosecutor and judge in his own case.
The tribunal resolved most of these on procedural impropriety (without going into merits) because it was found the basic natural justice rules were flouted in almost every disciplinary case. In the end, the Tribunal members ordered for immediate reinstatement of affected staff to their positions. Their names too must be immediately reinstated on the University payroll so that they resume earning their salaries.
The Appointments Board must also conduct proper disciplinary hearings afresh particularly for the 4 employees (Nakatudde, Chalo Nabirye, Dr. Isaac Okullo and Paul Apunyo). This has to be done within 60 days or else they are held liable for contempt of the Tribunal decisions. The Tribunal also suggested that Mwebe should be guided on the powers of his legal directorate when it comes to matters pertaining to staff being subjected to disciplinary proceedings. That, whereas it’s okay for the Board to call on the department’s legal technical expertise, Mwebe’s role should be deescalated or else the University risks being sued multiple times for breach of procedural requirements.
“The legal department should guide in the investigation, charging and prosecution of employees appearing before the Appointments Board. But should not participate in discussions or reviews together with the members of the Appointments Board,” the Tribunal members observed in their decisions that have since been submitted to management for immediate execution.
The 4 Health Sciences College bosses got into problems after internal investigations found them culpable for incompetence and failure to perform their duties efficiently. This was after three students were irregularly added onto the February 2017 graduation list and anomalously got degrees in Pharmacy. During their 575th Appointments Board members decided to reprimand the four University employees. This meeting was held on 5th October 2018. But the Tribunal has now reversed everything on grounds the meeting wasn’t properly conducted under the required procedures and natural justice rules. The Tribunal says it was irregular for the non-Board member Mwebe to personally cross-examine the members of staff during a Board meeting in which he only participated as ex-officio.
And that it was irregular for the charges to be read to Apunyo and Nakatudde at the end of the hearing as opposed to being read to them at the start. It was also found that the Appointments Board acted in haste and consequently didn’t accord staff sufficient time to prepare their defenses. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.