13 October 2009

Uganda: Makerere Bosses Forced to Resign

Kampala — A FACULTY dean of Makerere University and four other top officials have been asked to resign over alleged mismanagement of funds.

The dean of the faculty of arts, Dr. Hannington Ssengendo, was asked to step down on Monday along with his two deputies Dr. Abasi Kiyimba (for undergraduate studies) and Dr. Byaruhanga Rukooko (postgraduate studies).

They are accused of paying themselves an advance of about sh31m in responsibility allowances last year; at the expense of over 500 other members of staff, according to Tanga Odoi, the chairman of the academic staff association (MUASA).

In a document given to journalists, Ssengendo is alleged to have paid himself sh10.4m last year, while Kiyimba and Rukooko shared sh8m each.

Others include the then faculty accountant, David Tukasingura and his assistant, Frederick Ssekatawa, who allegedly pocketed sh3.2m and sh2.2m respectively.

Tukasingura was transferred to the institute of psychology this year.

Odoi said the faculty board forced the officials to resign during a heated meeting on Monday. The board comprises the faculty's academic staff and was chaired by Ssengendo.

"They paid themselves colossal sums of money in advance and left none for lecturers and other staff members," Odoi told journalists in his office yesterday.

"The rest of staff members have not got allowances since last January."

He said the faculty had other pressing needs that could have been solved had the officials not taken all the money. Each teaching and non-teaching staff member at Makerere is entitled to a responsibility allowance. A faculty dean gets about sh3.1m per month while others earn up to sh2m.

Ssengendo, a senior lecturer in the geography department, has been faculty dean for eight years. He had two years to complete his second five-year term.

Contacted yesterday, Ssengendo said: "I listened to all that was said and decided that the (best) thing for me is to step down at the end of this semester."

He said the faculty did not have enough money for all staff members.

"For the last two years, the faculty activities have remained constant yet funding has reduced. Ours is not stealing. The problem is that we paid ourselves upfront."

Rukooko acknowledged that in 2008, they paid themselves allowances up to June this year.

"We did not steal. We just accessed the money in the form of allowances," Rukooko said in his office.

MUASA has warned administrators in other faculties suspected of unfairly distributing the available resources. "We shall not accept lecturers to continue suffering for poor pay while faculty bosses eat all the money that is available," Odoi stressed.

Makerere University had accumulated a deficit of sh64b by the end of 2007, according to the latest figures.

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