Nawangwe suspends Makerere forum he himself launched, cites legality

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Nawangwe suspends Makerere forum he himself launched, cites legality
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

MAKERERE | Makerere University vice chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe has left deans and principals bemused after unexpectedly suspending a top academic forum just days before a planned retreat.

The University Deans and Deputy Principals were due to attend a training retreat from June 6-7 under their academic umbrella, the Deans' Forum - conceived as a strategic enabling platform for effective and efficient execution of the deans' statutory functions.

The vice chancellor was scheduled to officiate at the opening of the training retreat on June 6, according to Dr Arthur Tugume, dean of the School of Biosciences.

But in a brief memo to his first deputy Umar Kakumba, Prof Nawangwe said he had received complaints regarding the legality of the Deans' Forum.

"Pending resolution of the legality of this forum, all activities of the Forum are hereby suspended," he wrote on Wednesday, May 29.

Dr Kakumba, as the patron of the Deans' Forum, communicated the directed to the rest of the deans and principals yesterday.

"The developments are quite interesting given the objectives and purpose of the Deans' Forum," Dr Tugume, the chairperson of the Forum, told Nile Post.

Asked if he had any idea about the complaint, he said; "We do not know the reasons as yet. We are yet to seek guidance through appropriate channels on the matter and are following this quite closely."

The Deans' Forum is an academic leaders platform that enables the deans to engage more regularly and share knowledge and experiences for the advancement of research, teaching and learning, innovations and best practices in Makerere University.

Incidentally, the Forum was launched by Prof Nawangwe himself, which left many school heads at the institution bemused by the decision.

"The VC inaugurated the Deans Forum and now he is disbanding it, saying it is illegal," said one of the principals at Makerere as many moved to demand explanations for the abrupt call.

The Forum, which brings together Deans from 29 Schools of Makerere, has its origins in the series of training and sensitisation workshops organised for academic leaders by the Deputy VC for Academic Affairs, Dr Kakumba, and Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, starting in mid-2019.

Prof Nawangwe has become increasingly wary of association at the university and he is said to be working behind the leafy hill to abolish thorny ones like academic staff association popularly known by its acronym, Muasa.

In a communication to the deans and principals on Friday, Dr Tugume said the Deans' Forum is an internal academic leaders' organisation and not an organ of the university.

"The Forum has a constitution, and its overall aim is to promote academic excellence through collective action, capacity building and harnessing each others’ capabilities, experiences and best practices," he said.

"As the current executive of the Forum, we are not aware that it has breached any law, provision or procedure. Going forward, we are following these developments closely and will be requesting for further guidance from the patron in this direction."

Dr Tugume called for calm as they engage Nawangwe's deputy and patron, Kakumba.

But some of the dons said as they wait for further and better particulars about the legality of the Forum, Prof Nawangwe had to be reminded that Article 29 of the Constitution of Uganda guarantees everyone the Freedom of Association.

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