Makerere Institute of Social Research [MISR] has clarified that Dr. Stella Nyanzi was not sacked for political reasons as many have been speculating.
Nyanzi who was evicted from her office on Friday is a confessed supporter of opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye.
She was openly campaigning for Besigye during the 2016 elections to the extent that NRM supporters alleged the satirist “beds” the FDC strongman.
In a memo published on MISR website on Saturday, management said it had decided that Dr. Nyanzi vacates her office at MISR and take a seat at the MISR library so long as she refuses to teach in the MPhil/PhD programme at MISR.
“Contrary to some claims in social media, Dr. Nyanzi has not been fired from MISR. Nor is she being victimised for her political orientation.”
On May 30, 2013, Ms. Dorothy Senoga Zake, Manager, Employment Division, HR, wrote the director MISR “to convene a meeting of Senior Staff in MISR” to consider Dr. Nyanzi’s application for confirmation to the post of Research Fellow at MISR.
Dr. Nyanzi assured the senior staff that she intended to teach in the PhD programme. Minutes of the meeting, dated July 17, 2013, noted “that Dr. Nyanzi had already submitted a syllabus for teaching a course in the first semester of 2014. The syllabus has already been approved.”
The minutes further confirmed that “she was also in the process of preparing a syllabus for a second course.”
It is on the basis of this minute that Dr. Nyanzi was confirmed in university service by the Appointments Board at its meeting of 28th October, 2013.
On June 19, 2014, I wrote all members of the academic staff at MISR requesting them to submit titles for the course they intended to teach in 2015.
Dr. Nyanzi responded on June 24, 2014: “Dear Prof. Mamdani, If I must teach in 2015, the two courses I previously shared with you are entitled: 1. Theoretical Perspectives on Gender, and 2. Cultures of Protest and Dissent in Revolutionary Social Movements. Attached please find the two course descriptions. Sincerely, Stella Nyanzi”.
In July, 2013, Dr. Nyanzi asked MISR to support her application for a fellowship at the University of Cape Town.
She was given support on the basis that “her position requires her to teach doctoral students registered for studies leading to an inter-disciplinary PhD in the Social Sciences.”
She said she intended to develop a new course for the PhD programme at MISR.
This assurance was written into letters of support, signed by the director of MISR, the principal of CHUSS (Professor Kirumira, 11th July 2013) and the Vice Chancellor (Professor Ssentamu, 12th July, 2013), who wrote: “If awarded the fellowship, Dr. Nyanzi plans to develop a multi-disciplinary course entitled ‘Dissent, Protest and Rebellion in Revolutionary Social Movements’” at MISR.
The letter concluded: “Her research and teaching therefore fall within the areas of work of the UCT hosts listed in the call for application.”
Persistent Refusal to Teach
On August 5, 2014, however, Dr. Nyanzi changed her mind: “My contract with Makerere University does NOT include any teaching duties. In our verbal discussions, I have constantly refused to teach on the MISR PhD which was started after I was appointed into my current position. I have never indicated that I will teach on the PhD next year. The advertisement for my position did not include any teaching job responsibilities because MISR was not a teaching institute at the time. As far as I am concerned, my terms of employment have never officially changed.”
As the above record shows, the claim that Dr. Nyanzi had “never indicated” a willingness to teach on the PhD programme is not true.
“That same month, I wrote the Director, Human Resources, requesting advice on the next step to take in this matter. I am still awaiting a response.”
Dr. Stella Nyanzi was confirmed in university service in May, 2013, only after she pledged to teach in the PhD programme.
She received MISR and university backing for a fellowship at UCT only after a written assurance that she was going to use the time to design a new course to teach in the PhD programme.
Since her appointment at MISR, Dr. Stella Nyanzi has done only private research. So long as she spends her time exclusively on private matters and personal research, MISR can only offer her a seat in at the MISR library.
The day she begins teaching in the PhD programme, she will be provided an office by the institution, according to the memo.