Mak Staff Tribunal Orders Reinstatement of Dismissed Legal Director

The Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal has ordered for Reinstatement of Javason Kamugisha, to his position as Director of Legal affairs.  

Kamugisha’s five-year contract was terminated by the University Appointments Board in a special sitting on May 4, 2022, with no apparent reason indicated in the termination letter. In the aftermath, Kamugisha ran to the University Staff Appeals Tribunal to demand his reinstatement on grounds that the termination was unlawful and arbitrary.

The tribunal has since established that the university the termination was unfair because the university did not comply with the established procedure in the human resources manual. The tribunal also ordered that Kamugisha receives payment of his salary arrears from the time he was deleted from the university payroll to date. 

By the time of his termination, Kamugisha had covered six months of his probation which elapsed in November 2021, before the university extended it for another six months. Documents availed to the tribunal indicated that Kamugisha had challenged the extension of his probation since it was left to elapse and the fact that he had performed very well on his duties scoring above 90 per cent in his appraisals. 

But in defence, the University, in defence argued that the discretion to confirm or terminate the contract was in the hands of the appointments board which was not only restricted to considering the performance appraisal. It was also brought to the attention of the tribunal that the appellant had previously signed accepting the terms of extending his probation.

However, the tribunal ruled that in accordance with the rights of employees, as outlined in the Human Resource Manual, the university was bound by its own rules of procedure and should have determined whether or not to retain the employee within six months, a failure of which meant that the employee had a right to be confirmed.  

The tribunal referred to a section of the University’s Human Resources Manual which indicates that confirmation of an employee should be done within the probationary period, and in the event that this is not done and the probationary period expires, the employee shall be entitled to have their confirmation backdated to the date it was first due.

Upon receiving the ruling, Kamugisha who will be in service for three years now commended the Tribunal for resisting pressure to compromise with injustice. He also noted that the ruling should be a signal to other oppressed staff members to always embrace legal intervention against corrupt systems at the institution. 

Kamugisha was dismissed at the same time as Davis Malowa Ndanyi, the then Director of Human Resources, nearly under similar circumstances. Ndanyi, however, chose not to appeal.

Meanwhile, there are several instances where courts of law or the staff appeals tribunal have criticized Makerere University for improperly terminating staff members’ contracts over the past few years thus ordering the reinstatement of the affected staff.

Although the tribunal ruled that each party in the current case bears its own expenses, Makerere has frequently been ordered to pay enormous sums of money in costs and damages in past similar cases.

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