The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Pressure Now Mounts On Kyambogo University Managers

With the dust settling on former Kyambogo University Vice Chancellor Prof Isaiah Omolo Ndiege's tenure, Parliament's Education and Sports committee has turned the heat on the current administration, recommending that some of them be investigated.

"The problems at Kyambogo University are beyond 'mismanagement of the university' by the VC as alleged by the petition but reveals deep-rooted rot," the committee said in a report on the crisis-ridden university.

The report cites irregular admissions and awarding of marks, irregular appointments that have led to incompetent staff, irregular procurement practices, financial mismanagement, indiscipline and poor or lack of action on indiscipline cases, fraudulent fees payment and theft of university property, among other ills at Kyambogo.

The committee wants an in-depth probe by the Auditor General, IGG and Police. Those recommended for investigation for academic malpractice include the acting Vice Chancellor, Prof John Asibo Opuda and Academic Registrar Rose Giibwa Bwire.

The Observer recently reported about fake student admissions, leakage of examinations, delayed examination results and alteration of examination results, leading to incorrect graduation lists. Our report also talked of a duel between Opuda and Ndiege over administrative issues such as distribution of university land.

In one instance, Ndiege declined to give away university land to the ministry of Education, which was looking for space to build its headquarters. However, Prof Opuda defied his boss and handed over the land title along with an apology. When the land title was eventually returned, more land had been irregularly taken from the university main title.

Other officials likely to feature in the investigations include University Bursar Ham Mungyereza, Human Resource Director Godfrey Tumwesigye and Peter Mujuni, the director of Planning and Development.

Bursar:

In a September 17, 2012 dossier to Parliament, Ndiege accuses Mungyereza of failing to supervise staff under his docket, who were involved in fraudulent activities.

"Investigations had discovered a racket in which some students pay partial accommodation fees but are issued with receipt for full amount," Ndiege told the committee.

The vice was reportedly rampant in the faculties of Education, Arts and Social Sciences as well as the school of Management and Entrepreneurship. MPs want Mungyereza to explain his failure to submit financial statements from the above faculties. "This is tantamount to insubordination and impunity," the committee report says in part.

Mungyereza is also accused of inflating vouchers for student field trips, approving payments with incomplete documents and misuse of a university vehicle. The Observer is in possession of a memo that Mungyereza wrote to Ndiege seeking to use a university vehicle every week.

"I wish to inform you that my family and home are based in Masaka. I have no home in Kampala. I am, therefore, bound by marital obligations to go to Masaka every weekend, which is outside Kampala to see my family," Mungyereza wrote in an August 23, 2012 letter.

Ndiege refused, writing on September 9, 2012: "Is this in order to give standing permission for use of vehicle every weekend? No."

Doubts also abound about Mungyereza's qualifications to be a University Bursar after he was declared unfit to be a chief finance officer for Sembabule district by the Public Service Commission, six months before he joined Kyambogo University.

"Mr Mungyereza, however, had a bachelors degree in Economics which wasn't relevant to the post of Chief Finance Officer. He obtained ACCA affiliate membership on 26/6/2006. He, therefore, lacked the required academic and or professional qualifications to be retained in the service as Chief Finance Officer. He should have been redeployed or retired from the service," Duncan Bigirwa the Secretary Public Service Commission wrote on April 16, 2010.

The letter was in response to an earlier memo by Sembabule District Service Commission seeking guidance on the regularization and reinstatement of Mungyereza as chief finance officer after his two-year unpaid leave to work with the Nile Basin Initiative and the Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme Coordination Unit.

When he sought to return to Sembabule, he was rejected, forcing him to go to court but lost the case, forcing him to plead for an honourable exit.

"I wish to request Sembabule district to retire me honorably if it is not able to accept me for redeployment so that I can join private sector," he wrote in a letter dated June 8, 2010 to the Acting CAO Sembabule district.

Mungyereza was reluctant to respond to Parliament's recommendation, saying he wasn't privy to their findings. He, however, acknowledged issuance of receipts for full payment for students who had made partial payments by his staff but said disciplinary action had been taken against one staff.

On the vehicle, he says he asked for it because he lacked the official vehicle.

"Do you want me to move by foot?" he asked.

HR Director:

There are also reservations about Tumwesigye's competencies to hold the job since he had apparently had no relevant experience. Before joining KYU in July 2010, he had worked as a lecturer at Uganda Management Institute and MUBS. Ndiege says Tumwesigye's performance is wanting.

"He has been learning on the job while making fatal mistakes, some of which may have contributed to the current impasse. He failed to delete from the payroll staff that had left KYU, resigned, absconded or died."

Tumwesigye had been the first runner up during interviews for the job and only took on the job after the first candidate declined the offer.

He is also accused of promoting staff without approval from the Appointments board. Others are irregular extension of contracts for redundant staff without approval from the appointments board, and failure to execute staff performance monitoring appraisal. Tumwesigye's phone remained unanswered, when we attempted to talk to him.

Academic Registrar:

Before Bwire joined Kyambogo, she had been an experienced registrar at Makerere University. In recommending her for the Kyambogo job, former academic registrar Mukwanason Hyuha vouched for her professional knowledge but was worried about her work attitude.

"Once in a while, she would unilaterally decide to relax (instead of attending to student transcript demands) in face of heavy transcript demands.... hence once in a while, I would walk to her office to diffuse matters arising from the complaining clientele," he wrote at the time.

But the then vice chancellor, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba wondered if she was capable of holding the job.

"Her interpersonal relations wouldn't favour her to effectively supervise a team of middle and lower level professional staff," he wrote.

The legislators want Bwire to explain cases of irregular admissions, awarding of marks, delays in the release of exam results, fraudulent fees payment and theft of university properties.

Illegal payments:

Prof Ndiege also accuses at least five top university officials of illegally receiving allowances amounting to Shs 61m that had been abolished by the council on May 27, 2011.

"Further note that you have been receiving both Top-Up Allowance and Responsibility allowance and 10% NSSF between July 2011 and January 2012 against the established Council policy."

Those affected also include Prof Opuda, Mungyereza and Tumwesigye. A memo dated February 20, 2012, asked them to refund the monies they had been irregularly paid.

We have also seen documents indicating that some top university officials could have been appointed in disregard of damning confidential reports about their performance from their previous employers and supervisors.

University Council probe:

The recommendations are not at variance with the conclusion of the University Council, which called for a continued probe into other officials responsible for Kyambogo's troubles. Those affected are expected to face various ad hoc committees set up by the council on Finance, Academics, Administration and Welfare. Some staff members have proposed that the university's security department be added to the list after the disappearance of a lorry-load of computers last year.

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