Minister for ICT & National Guidance, Frank K Tumwebaze, has asked Ugandans not to politicize the Makerere university question or divert from the core problem at the country’s most prestigious institution.
“Whatever opportunistic politics some circles and actors are trying to put up around Makerere, let’s us not get diverted from understanding the core problem,” Tumwebaze said in a statement Thursday.
The question, he said, of how money generated from fees paying students, is spent remains the million dollar question.
“If private institutions (Private universities and schools) without any subsidy from government, can rely only on fees generated to pay well and on time their lecturers/ teachers and other staff, use the same to put up infrastructure at their campuses, fund research and above all pay back dividends to their proprietors, where exactly does Makerere put the money it generates, since it doesn’t spend on most of the above areas?”
The institution was closed on orders of President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday citing safety reasons following a lecturers and students’ strike.
The lecturers are demanding for Shs28bn in salary arrears yet the institution says it has no money.
Police chiefs Kale Kayihura and Felix Kaweesi yesterday toured the institution and ensured all students leave the university as ordered.
According to Tumwebaze, if they say it [money collected from fees] is not enough as they usually claim, can Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] then take over the collection of all those fees from all paying students, remit the funds to the consolidated fund and then have Makerere university like any other government parastatal, budget for all its recurrent and development expenditure for direct government funding through parliamentary appropriation?
“Would the Makerere leaders, lecturers and other staff support this? Failure to ask and demand explanation from Makerere administration on these relevant issues but accept their blackmail towards government for more money is extreme irresponsibility.
He said those rushing to be apologists of the blackmailing and striking staff should know that they are lending credence to this impunity.
Government money is public money and therefore Parliament must appropriate it evenly to all sectors of society, Tumwebaze noted.
“I fully welcome the idea of a comprehensive inquiry into the way Makerere is managed with a special forensic audit on how internally generated funds are spent.”
He added: “I am sure, if this is fixed, Makerere woes would be fixed decisively. Good that the minister of education seems to have quickly discerned this cancer. She needs all the support and not quick harsh judgements that don’t offer any alternatives.”
Ddumba in trouble
Makerere Vice Chancellor Ddumba-Sentamu is already being blamed by his own staff for the recurrent violence and failure to pay staff salaries which are hinged on corruption, inefficiency and abuse of resources by his administration.
Makerere University Academic Staff Association [MUASA], in a letter dated November 1, to the University Council that all good intentions by the President are undermined through the University Management’s inept and inefficient management of internally generated funds and failure of Council to exercise oversight even where there is glaring evidence of mismanagement.
They accuse Ddumba of mismanaging their retirement savings, the scandalous collapse of the perimeter wall “where considerable sums of our money was lost” and “expensive procurements and inflated bills in this university where even some heads of units have in the past complained but have not received adequate intervention from management”.
“We have complained about leakage of resources in payroll management where, for example, cleaning companies are recruited to do the same things that staff who are still on payroll are hired to do,” they wrote.
“We have complained about the Human Resource Directorate’s failure to rationalise the workload of staff and instead chose to confuse everyone that it is the MUASA members responsible as if we are the ones managing their contracts.”
MUASA has in the past complained about monies allocated to members of management for travel and even wondered how this happens even when people’s pensions are unpaid and in the absence of staff health insurance.
“We have in the past complained about the work of estates where we have information that external activities are connected to our water and electricity grid and yet the university continues to pay excessive bills.”
MUASA has also complained about action on officers who fail to collect fees on rented spaces of campus, unpaid monies from affiliated campuses and insistence of running commercial units that take away instead of bringing in.
“We have the case of Mugenyi Flats on Main Campus where students have been encouraged not to vacate when formally asked to do so and have since the end of august been residing in the flats illegally, causing the University to incur unnecessary costs in terms of bolls from utilities, lost revenue from rent, etc.”
The Auditor General’s report for the year ending 2015 showed that Shs 511,171,395 in staff advances was unaccounted at Makerere, Shs776, 009,229 transferred to staffs’ personal bank accounts, land in Kololo was secretly leased to a private investor at Shs 1,500,000,000 and money surreptitiously spent, Shs 1,053,747,963 was paid to external lawyers while Shs 393,996,539 involving the guest house and donor grants were undeclared or understated.