WHAT MAKES PROF BAZEYO MAK’S CURRENTLY MOST POWERFUL MAN
By Mulengera Reporters
Elderly William Bazeyo is naturally a laid-back person the very reason he easily ranks among Makerere University’s least-known Professors. Yet that notwithstanding (as we shall illustrate in this story), Bazeyo is simply contemporary Makerere’s most powerful and influential academic. By virtue of his age, wealth, social network and professional accomplishments, Bazeyo is vastly respected by key government and corporate leaders. Equally so, Bazeyo is deeply connected in the diplomatic circles because of his very transformative scientific research accomplishments.
Ordinarily as Deputy Vice Chancellor (F&A), Bazeyo is among the top three bureaucrats at Makerere the other two being VC Barnabas Nawangwe and Umar Kakumba who is DVC Academic Affairs.
The 62-year-old don is so well accomplished that many consider it a favor for him to have accepted the very stressful DVC post at the expense of concentrating on his very thriving research career and private businesses. His research works have yielded a lot of donor projects for Makerere and consolidated his leadership position in Uganda’s medical sciences arena. He has delivered many projects for Makerere, Uganda and Africa including the Tobacco Control Center which does advocacy and advise African governments on how to regulate tobacco use.
The other landmark achievement resulting from his research is the $25m Resilient African Network (RAN) program which he brought for Makerere after the US government rated his project proposal the best. He beat other academic giants from all over the world. This was at a time Obama was still President and Hillary Clinton his Secretary of State. For the Tobacco project Bazeyo serves as Director and Chief of Party for RAN that is based in Kololo from where research works and interventions are coordinated for the entire continent. Before becoming VC, Bazeyo served as Dean School of Public Health which is responsible for more than 40% of the research grants the College of Health Sciences boasts of.
In terms of business, workaholic Bazeyo owns Nakasero Road-based Piato Restaurant as a business and the premises in which its operated. It’s a top end restaurant where only the rich can afford eating out. Not very far away from there, Bazeyo owns huge commercial properties on the plot opposite Sir Apollo Kaggwa Primary School Nakasero campus. In fact, he recently relocated from Bugolobi where his main residence is located. As part of efforts trying to overcome the stress associated with the January 2019 death of his business-minded and very entrepreneurial wife Alice, Bazeyo recently opted to quit the Bugolobi home to be able to forget that painful experience. In Bugolobi, his swanky residence is located on the lane where former Dolphin Suits used to be situated. It’s enclosed in a leafy compound and Bazeyo is neighbored by equally rich and well accomplished retired senior citizens like Shema Bageine.
Besides Piato, Bazeyo is also into the garments business big time and its managed by one of his three children Alice produced for him. He also has a horticulture farm which the media profiled recently and he exports its products directly to Europe. His kids are three-two girls and one boy who is actually the youngest. Gratefully by the time Alice died, after a prolonged battle with cancer, they had all completed University. Each of them runs one of the businesses-Piato, the fabrics and the farm. The dad concentrates on his busy schedule at Makerere besides the real estate properties which are vast in Kampala and Wakiso. Alice was buried at their country home in Itendero Sheema and those who attended the funeral left convinced the Bazeyos are indeed well networked. At the All Saints Church requiem mass, you had all the powerful business, corporate, academia, judiciary, security and military leaders. One mourner joked that ministers present would as well have had a cabinet meeting because there was more than enough Coram. The contacts have gradually been built both by Bazeyo and his very enterprising wife. God blessed the couple with integrity which is one of the key reasons why they managed to build such strong friendships over time.
Away from that, to many at Makerere, the vastness of Bazeyo’s power and influence manifested not very long ago as stakeholders converged to elect the new chairperson for the Governing Council. Practice has always been that one of the three GoU representatives becomes Chair. This time as they saw off Eng Wana Etyem, Makerere received three names from GoU through the First Lady Janet Museveni-led Ministry of Education. These are ex-PS Dr. Stephen Kagoda, educationist/school proprietor Lorna Magara and forceful city lawyer Kiwanuka Kiryowa. It’s unclear how but it emerged to many Council members that the First Lady’s wish must have been for the thick-skinned and entrepreneurial KK to become the Chairman Council.
There was nervousness and anxiety as members prepared to elect; it was increasingly clear KK wasn’t going to be elected because members from day one felt uncomfortable with his belligerent approach to issues. They vowed not to elect him yet by doing that Makerere risked being misunderstood by their Minister Janet. The mood became pensive and Bazeyo suggested an adjournment for a few minutes. He used that break to directly ring the First Lady who asked; “What’s the problem Prof Bazeyo? Is everything okay?”
Bazeyo cleared his throat inside equally puzzled VC Banarbas Nawangwe’s office and said: “Mama there is a small quick issue here on which we must secure your concurrence so that you don’t get surprised.” He explained it was a few moments to voting but the way he sees things, KK wasn’t going to make it. “Wouldn’t that be an insult to the Minister and State House?” Bazeyo politely inquired as Janet attentively listened the other side of the line. “What’s your suggestion Prof Bazeyo? How can we move forward on that issue?” Janet respectfully inquired. Bazeyo explained Janet appreciates why they are zeroing in on Lorna Magara as the compromise candidate for the job of chairperson. Janet said: “Perfect Prof Bazeyo lets proceed that way.” Bazeyo and Nawangwe returned to other pensive colleagues and communicated the Minister had been brought on board and that is how the KK debacle was resolved and everybody walked away in harmony.
Sources say, because she knows he is a rich well accomplished man who can’t steal even a coin in the DVC office, Janet greatly respects Bazeyo and also appreciates his loyalty to the NRM during whose time he has made huge monies and transformed himself into a tycoon professor whose riches many of his peers can only fantasize about. When she became Minister, Janet realized Makerere wasn’t going to be easy. It was quickly realized that to make things move you needed sober-minded individuals in top management positions in the Main Building and that’s how the Bazeyo tenure as DVC was mooted.
Away from Janet, Bazeyo (who got some of the good contacts through late wife Alice) is equally well known and appreciated by the big man himself. Sources say on hearing Bazeyo’s wife had died after a long fight with cancer, a grief-stricken Museveni rang him and wondered: “Yii Prof Bazeyo I thought I was your friend. How could your wife have been sick for all this long and you never informed me about it?” Bazeyo kept quiet prompting Museveni to add: “I know cancer treatment can be very expensive. We should have helped you on that.”
Bazeyo is also closely connected to PSST Keith Muhakanizi (now back to hospital abroad) who actually was a close relative to his wife Alice. Indeed, when Muhakanizi got diagnosed with early prostate cancer its Bazeyo who strongly recommended Turkey arguing from his long struggles trying to save Alice’s life he had realized the Turkish facilities were the best for cancer. Muhakanizi complied and returned with good results after a successful surgical operation. At Makerere, Bazeyo is easily respected because many peers wonder what a well accomplished man like him would be seeking in the DVC office which doesn’t fetch him much in terms of the monthly pay cheque.
He is also careful ever choosing his allies very carefully. That is how a certain powerful lady who tried to compromise him through sex seduction didn’t succeed. He resents intrigue and has always ensured his boss Nawangwe (who as DVC had very bad relationship with Prof Ddumba-Sentamu) is comfortable. He always works to compliment him, using his vast connections in government, without directing any intrigue to him. Being the selfless professor, he is, Bazeyo has deliberately ensured Janet gets to like and appreciate Nawangwe even more insisting that protocol and hierarchy is extremely important if harmonious co-existence is to continue between the VC and DVC office. Indeed, Janet equally treasures Nawangwe to the extent she sometimes rings and directs him to travel to countries like China and Russia to represent her in high level meetings. Nawangwe leverages on the fact that he studied in Russia (and initially married Russian wife) to deliver excellently whenever given such assignments.
Some of the top management officials Bazeyo treasures and closely works with besides the VC include Director Legal Henry Mwebe, Director HR Andrew Abunyang, Director ICT, Director Internal Audit and the lady who heads estates department. Those are his inner circle with whom he caucuses ahead of major State House meetings or even ministerial or Parliamentary or development partner meetings. Bazeyo is also comfortable confiding in Ag US Yusuf Kiranda in whom he has a lot of hope being a young man with good intentions to improve financial management systems in his one year of acting as substantive US Charles Barugahare returns from his study leave.
The Makerere system, that has produced impeccable dons like Bazeyo and Nawangwe, has mentored many other equally important actors including Jackie Ayorekire who powerfully serves as Manager Revenue and Grants. This is the reason many have been working hard to deescalate mild differences between Ayorekire and the US’ office. The Makerere system needs both Kiranda and Ayorekire powerfully serving. Bazeyo is among those who have been working behind the scenes to ensure de-escalation which has since been achieved.
She might not be known to many people outside Main Building but Ayorekire is another huge power center in her own right. And here is some illustration for that. As Manager revenue, she liaises with banks where Mak operates accounts to oversee whatever has been collected. She handles all donor funds and in fact her Projects Account sometimes facilitates travels by top management officials in case the Mak coffers are dry. That gives her lots of leverage. She is ordinarily not a member of top or even central management but Ayorekire often attends such meetings because of the centrality of her docket. She also runs the Makerere Souvenir, a private business, whose rent-payment status Muasa members have previously questioned.
One-time students rioted and destroyed nearby Makerere Printery and the shop as well. Top management prioritized the repair of its doors ahead of those of the University Printery. Each time management gets intelligence a strike is looming and there is need to wet the beaks of possible ring leaders, Ayorekire is the money lady to whom everyone turns to urgently mitigate such situations. As Nandala Mafabi’s PAC discovered recently, Ayorekire is also very powerful during the Makerere budgeting process and units that don’t ensure she gets to understand their priorities enough often end up being underfunded. She is the defacto Kenneth Mugambe (Budgeting Director) of sorts for Makerere and don’t be surprised id she becomes US or Bursar someday. She gratefully knows how to get her way around Makerere’s corridors of power having worked here since her S6 vacation when one of the former bursars brought her in as a volunteer. (For comments, call or text us on 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).