STRATEGIC! Inside Mak VC Prof. Nawangwe’s plan to gratify staff protesting his re-appointment

Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe

Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe

By our reporter

Last month, Makerere University went against unwritten rule and reappointed Prof Barnabas Nawangwe as the institution’s vice-chancellor. A section of staff are still protesting this move. Most of the VCs are always below 60 years. During the 2012 search process that saw Prof John Dumba Ssentamu become VC and Prof Venansius Baryamureeba kicked out, the age limit was put between 40-60 years for applicants.

However, during the 2017 VC search process that brought in Prof Nawangwe, the VC search committee adjusted the upper limit of the age bracket for one to become a Vice Chancellor from 60 to 65 years for all eligible candidates. It was reportedly extended to 65 years to cater for candidates like the latter who was then 61. Nawangwe is now 66. Under normal circumstances it implies he was not eligible for another term. But it was renewed automatically. Those who supported him reasoned that his stellar performance in the last five years deserved a reward.

They also opined that Covid-19 pandemic ate into his time which needed to be compensated with an automatic renewal of his contract to finish the unfinished business. Others say in him, they see an ally with the powers that be hence continued flow of cash to the institution.Whereas he is seen as NRMst, some critics say that’s just a cosmetic face but instead he is an opposition sympathizer and a Museveni government hater at heart.

Critics say Nawangwe’s performance in the last five years has been wanting.

Away from that the university community and the alumni will never forgive him given that the iconic Ivory Tower was burnt to ashes during his tenure. A section of staff and students also accuse him of high handedness in dealing with them and poor handling of promotions. That during his campaigns for the VC job in 2017, he promised many things which have never materialized up to date. But now that he has five more years, the jury is still out.


A decision is now being mooted to review senior staff terms and enable professors to work until 80 years of age.

Specifically, the policy is set to be changed so that professors and associate professors get post-retirement contracts until they clock 80 and 70 years respectively. Uganda’s life expectancy (at birth) is estimated by the World Health Organisation at 70 years for women and 67 for men.

In a letter dated 25th July 2022, the University Secretary Yusuf Kiranda informed the university bursar, Director Human resources, and Director Legal Affairs of a decision made by the university council on the 22nd June 2022 to review the university policy on post-retirement contracts for Professors and Associate Professors.

In the letter, the University Secretary asks the Finance planning administration and investment committee plus the legal rules and privileges committee to develop the implementation guidelines for a revised policy for the council’s consideration.

Besides giving full professors post-retirement contracts of up to 80 years and associate professors up to 70 years, the policy proposal also calls for considering post-retirement contracts for non-teaching staff.  It also proposes considering evidence of participation in curriculum review and mentorship as a requirement for post-retirement contracts.

Previously, Associate Professors have been given a contract up to the age of 65 years broken into two (3,2) to allow for review with the first contract being 3 years and the second one 2 years; and Full Professors given contracts up to the age 70 years broken into three (4,4,2) for review with the first contract being 4 years, the second contract being 4 years and third contract 2 years.

This, the Secretary says, is to allow the university to retain productive talents and resourceful academics and seek a precise mechanism of determining senior academic staff who qualify for discretionary post-retirement contracts.

The discussions are happening after the reappointment of Prof Barnabas Nawangwe as the vice-chancellor on the 12th of August which was opposed on age grounds by some of the university staff as his term was set to expire on August 31, 2022.

A section of Makerere staff led by associate Prof Jude Ssempebwa and Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi petitioned the University Council to challenge the re-appointment.

They pointed to the age limits requirement which had been sealed between 40 and 65 years indicating that Nawangwe being 66 years old, was not eligible for re-appointment. They said Nawangwe’s reappointment was against the university human resource manual.

Now the re-appointment of Nawangwe outside of the eligibility age bracket paves way as a precedent for enabling septuagenarians and octogenarians to partake of the employment and income in their evening years. It also validates Nawangwe’s appointment after the act.




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