23 February 2019

Uganda: Dr Stella Nyanzi Appeals Against Her Sacking

Photo: The Observer
Makerere University researcher Stella Nyanzi (file photo).

Dr Stella Nyanzi has appealed to the Makerere University Staff Appeals Tribunal protesting her sacking.

The decision to sack Dr Nyanzi, a research fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) was reached by the University Appointments Board at its 587th meeting held on December 11, 2018. She was sacked alongside 45 other personnel from various units in the institution.

In a letter communicating her termination of employment with Makerere University, Andrew Abunyang, the institution's Human Resources Director directed that Nyanzi hands over all University Property in her possession.

This letter according to Dr Stella Nyanzi was served to her through the Officer in Charge Luzira Women's Prison, where she has been detained since 7th November 2018.

Nyanzi is currently on remand on charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication in regard to her alleged indecent communication against President Yoweri Museveni and his late mother, Esiteeri Kokundeka.

Through her lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde, Dr Nyanzi protests the decision of the Appointments Board.

Nyanzi argues that she was not given a fair hearing since the decision to sack her was made in her absence.

Nyanzi also indicates that the Appointments Board unlawfully and unjustifiably acted in contempt of the earlier decision of the Staff Appeals Tribunal on December 3, 2018, and in further contempt of the on-going court case in which she sued the university.

In her February 21, 2019 Appeal notice, Dr Nyanzi observes that the decision by the Appointments Board was taken secretively and pre-emptive of the matter then pending before High Court, which is of a superior jurisdiction to grant the necessary relief and thus making it illegal, null and void.

Ssemakadde contends that the decision in dispute is wholly unfounded and inconsistent with the decision-making history of the Appointments Board.

"It is thus misconceived, arbitrary, and extremely hurtful to our client who has at all times been employed by the University under a contract of service on permanent terms and is nearly 17 years shy of retirement," Ssemakadde notes.

He adds that; "the decision was also politically-motivated and intended to appease the First Family who have since publicly commended and condoned the decision."

Nyanzi wants the Staff Appeals Tribunal set aside the entire decision of the Appointments Board, prohibit it from further interfering with her security of tenure without following the established procedures, be compensated to a tune of the injury so far occasioned to her; and award costs of her Appeal.

According to Abunyang, the University no longer has any jurisdiction over Nyanzi, since her employment contract ended on 31st May 2016.

Nyanzi's lawyers want the Staff Appeals Tribunal to treat her as a suspended staff, on half pay until the case is disposed of.

Ssemakadde says even when Nyanzi has been receiving half pay in protest, the money should not be deducted over the cessation of employment.

He adds that; "Those funds are essential to the maintenance of a dignified livelihood for our client and her family of three children of school-going age and their caretakers."

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