Makerere University’s teaching staff have come out to punch holes in the pronouncement recently made by Vice Chancellor to scrap among other things, the staff incentive that were introduced in 2014.
Last week, the University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe called a news conference at which he announced major changes in how his new administration will run Uganda’s biggest institution of higher learning. He announced that following resolutions of a Council meeting, the evening classes, provision of meals in halls of residence and the staff incentive package would all be abolished.
Prof Nawangwe had explained that the basis of these reforms was financial, as they were weighing on the university’s already meagre resources.
But Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) which brings together the teaching staff is already up in arms as a result of the new reforms, particularly regarding the incentive. Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi who is MUASA Chairman told journalists on Monday that the pronouncements announced by the Council were not endorsed by MUASA.
“On February 9, MUASA resolved that all incentive arrears (Shs 60 billion over a period of 20 months) be paid in full before July 2018, and that the incentives be maintained. And the Executive agreed that that Supreme decision be pursued between then and July,” Dr Kamunyu said
The other resolution by MUASA was for the Management to separate the incentives from evening classes and for the two to be treated separately.
“We still hold to our decision and it takes precedence,” he affirmed.
He was speaking shortly after a heated MUASA meeting to discuss the radical decisions announced by Council.
He explained that the sub committee constituted to assess the findings of the Rwendeire Visitation Committee on financial management lacked the representation of MUASA. Even when the subcommittee wrote a report to the University Council regarding the staff incentive, he said, it was never shared with MUASA which is the key stakeholder.
“We call on the Management and Council to listen to our voices on how we want to proceed, before things get out of hand,” he said.
MUASA further protests the notion by the University Council to scrap the evening classes so as to negate the significance of the staff incentive. They say they will not tolerate these “mind games”.
“We are ready to work for the incentive even during the day because the idea that abolishing the incentive since we are teaching only during the day does not arise,” the MUASA leader said to the press.
“It will depend on teacher – student ratio; if you load us with students during the day and we [university] are generating good money from it, we deserve to sit and agree on how to share the proceeds”.
Makerere University introduced a package of extra allowance (a 70% top up incentive to individual lecturers) to the staff in the 2013/14 academic year for their overtime work, including evening and weekend classes as well as the high student ratio per teacher. It followed a strike by lecturers demanding a 100% salary increment.
Last year, the Visitation Committee appointed by President Museveni to investigate problems at Makerere recommended that the incentive stays but be phased out in the medium and long term in exchange for an alternative (government reviewing lecturers salaries so that a Professor earns Shs 15 million).
Dr Kamunyu says that by making rushed pronouncements “to score in the media”, the Vice Chancellor risks making decisions that the staff will shun because they were never let in on his vision, especially when they are the ones that will implement it anyway.
As such, MUASA is set to meet with the Vice Chancellor as soon as possible to chart out the way forward.