Ahumuza Promises a Fight for Muasa Interests in Makerere University Council

The newly elected member of the Makerere University Council, Dr. Dianah Ahumuza Ateenyi has vowed to use her position to only champion policies that reflect the will of her constituency.  

Ahumuza was voted alongside Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi to represent the teaching staff under their umbrella body; the Makerere University Academic Staff Association – Muasa, the highest governing body of the institution.

She garnered 515 votes out of the 810 votes cast representing a 63.6% to best her competitor and incumbent Dr. Hellen Nkabala. Nambalirwa who managed only 271 votes.

Ahumuza is an assistant lecturer at the School of Law, a position she has held since 2013. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law in 2008 at Makerere University before she got a master’s degree in International Human rights Law and HIV in Africa from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. 

In 2019, she embarked on her PhD at the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria where she looked at “the impact of tax incentives on the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights,” focusing mainly on the right to basic education in Uganda. She is set to graduate early next year. 

Speaking to URN in an exclusive interview, Ahumuza said for the time she has been a Muasa member, she has seen many things go wrong and thought she can make a difference if she offered herself for leadership. “I have been a very active member of Muasa, when you are active, you don’t only teach and go away, for all my livelihood is here. I am a full time academic staff, so for a long I have always wanted to be involved in determining our future,” said Ahumuza.

She also says there is some unfairness within the institution which should be put to an end. Ahumuza also notes that the University Council has in the past come up with draconian rules which have no basis either in law or common sense and they expect the staff to embrace them without question.

This she said will be fought vigorously for as long as she is a member of Council  “Last year in March, we were all in industrial action, a lawful one; we were all not teaching, but there are a few people who were selected from some units and prosecuted for not teaching during the industrial action,” she said.

She made reference to a Council-passed circular that forbade lecturers from engaging in any professional activity outside of the university without first seeking approval from the university Vice-Chancellor which she said she objected to even before she became a member of Council. In the end the Council capitulated and reversed it.

“This circular was passed in October by the Appointments Board which was to the effect that everyone who seeks to do consultancy or any other work outside Makerere must seek authorization from the Vice Chancellor. There were many legal issues regarding that circular, so we wrote a legal opinion which we gave to the Muasa executive and the executive used it to talk to the Council, and after, the Council said it was an error because what they intended to outlaw was double employment,” she said.    

Muasa members have occasionally accused their representatives of betraying them when they have a common cause such as an industrial action. Asked whether she is prepared to stand with her constituency even when their demands are at variance with the position of Council, Ahumuza said her actions will always be motivated by justice. 

“I am still young politically, and career-wise, and I have a reputation to protect. I know there might be challenges but I will never fail to carry my mandate because I was compromised or scared.

In a proper system where you remember the people who voted you, you leave the consultation window and feedback door open. Even when those challenges are there, the electorate will know, and I think they will understand,” she said.  

The University started the process of getting new Council members earlier in November when the University Secretary Yusuf Kiranda who is also the Secretary to the Council asked constituent bodies to elect or nominate their representatives.

According to Section 38 of the University and other tertiary Institutions Act, all public universities are supposed to have a University Council which consists of the Chairperson; the Vice-Chairperson, the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors; a representative of a sector relevant to the University depending on its objectives and mission appointed by the relevant body in that sector, one member of the District Council in whose jurisdiction the university is situated and a member of the Convocation.

The others are two members of the University Senate, two members of the Academic Staff, a senior member of Administrative Staff, a member of the National Union of Education Institutions; Support Staff, two students, three members appointed by the Minister from the public, three members appointed by the University Council from the public.

The other representatives include a representative of the Ministry responsible for finance; a representative of the Ministry responsible for higher education, two representatives of the constituent colleges, schools, and institutes elected by the Chairpersons of the governing councils from among themselves, and two representatives of persons with disabilities.

The current Makerere University Council led by Lorna Magara and deputized Dan Kidega assumed office in 2018. As it stands, two constituents including Muasa and students have already voted for their representatives

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