Kampala — Leaders of government university staff associations have given Makerere University two weeks to resolve the suspension of its senior staff or else they will take alternative actions which they did not readily disclose.
Both the chairpersons of Makerere University Academic Staff Association, Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, and Administrative Staff Association, Mr Bennet Magara, have been suspended by the university for alleged incitement.
The Makerere Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, accused the staff of inciting their colleagues with intention to cause disobedience, strike to undermine the university administration, intimidation of university officials, using abusive language and making false statements.
It is not clear whether the incitement to strike referred to the industrial action taken about two weeks ago by all public universities' teaching and non-teaching staff .
The staff vowed not to return to work until government paid them their salary enhancement arrears.
Dr Grace Lubaale, the chairperson of Forum for Academic Staff Association of Public Universities (FASPU), on January 18 wrote to the academic staff of all public universities condemning the suspension of Dr Kamunyu and Mr Muhwezi. He said it was "shocking and in bad taste."
"We have learnt with shock the suspension of Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi...by the vice chancellor and we deeply condemn it in the strongest terms," Dr Lubaale stated.
He asked the Ministry of Education and Makerere University Council to rein in on Prof Nawangwe before the situation gets out of control.
Mr Jackson Betihamah, the chairperson of Public Universities Non-Teaching Staff Executive Forum (PUNTSEF), also called the suspension unfair and said it "must be resisted."
"We cannot tolerate this. We want this issue to be dealt with expeditiously. We are not comfortable as PUNTSEF and FASPU on the issues of suspension of the leaders of associations of Makerere University," Mr Betihamah said.
He said the staff leaders were acting on collective responsibilities and suspending them would mean disregarding the decisions of their general assemblies.
However, Prof Nawangwe snubbed the threats and accusations by both PUNTSEF and FASPU.
"These two associations are not recognised by any law and are illegal. It is a group of staff with like-minds that have come together, so their actions cannot influence our decisions," he said.