Makerere Council asks Nawangwe to Account for Convocation funds

Makerere University Council has directed Vice Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe to account for the funds meant for the recent University Convocation elections, as part of the measures to control excesses in the University management.

In relation to the chaotic events last Friday, the Council has decided to make new statutes that will give it and the University Management a role in the affairs of the association of graduates and staff of the university.

In a letter to Prof Nawangwe, Council Chairperson Lorna Magara said the decisions by the Council were in response to what he called the adverse developments surrounding Makerere University Convocation, including the elections for the Executive Committee.

The election results that saw George Mugabi Turyamureeba elected convocation chairperson, are due to be challenged in court, according to two of the contestants, Charles Odongtho and Gerald Karuhanga. Magara says she has already received petitions from the aggrieved parties including lack of accountability.

“I have also been copied in petitions concerning the December 30, elections…and other matters, such as the alleged three-year failure of the current Convocation Executive Committee to convene annual general meetings as required by law and an apparent absence of accountability for the funds advanced from the University budget to the Convocation.”

The Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act which establishes the Convocation allows it to exercise powers and perform such functions as the statutes may confer on it. However, according to Lorna  Magara,  the enactment of a public University’s statutes is a mandate of the Council under the same law.

She says, however, that Makerere University Convocation is currently governed by a constitution, which does not provide a role for the University Management or Council in the association’s affairs. But according to her, it is now clear that the two must have a role to play.

“As the recent developments have demonstrated, any failure on the part of the Convocation bears significant implications for the University Management and Council in the lens of the University’s stakeholders,” she says. The Council has now decided and will prioritise the enactment of a statute to address what they call the established lacunas in the existing legal framework.

As a short-term response, however, Magara says the University must act on the chaos during the Convocation Executive Committee elections, and also address the allegations of lack of accountability for the financial resources advanced by the University to the Convocation.

The letter asks Professor Nawangwe to provide a report on the chaos that occurred on the University premises on Friday. Pictures were circulated showing the exercise turning rowdy as members and candidates attempted to reign in on the election managers over mishandling of the process, while armed soldiers were also seen roughing up and dragging some members out of the premises.

Nawangwe will also have to submit, not later than January 9, 2023, a schedule of all payments from the University to the Convocation over the last four years.

The letter also directs him to obtain from the Convocation the respective accountabilities of all funds transferred to the Convocation from the University for the last four years and subject them to an audit.

This requested information will be used to guide the University Council’s necessary action on the matters of Makerere University Convocation.

Erias Lukwago, who says he has been instructed by Karuhanga and Odongtho to commence a court process, says Tanga Odoi, the Chairman of the Convocation has no mandate to conduct the election exercise. He says that the Chairman’s role stops at convening the general assembly, while the election is the duty of the Academic Registrar, who, however, was not involved in any way.

Lukwago, also the Kampala Lord Mayor adds that all the chaos should be blamed on Dr Odoi, who is also the Electoral Commission chairman of the ruling party, the NRM.

Odoi says he will explain himself in court over the accusations. However, on the chaos itself, he says he had to call in security to prevent loss of lives and to prevent what would have been disastrous for Makerere University.

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