Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

As the indefinite suspension of leaders of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) and Makerere Administrative Staff Association (MASA), continues, over 20 lecturers from the Department of Public and Comparative Law have asked the Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Barnabas Nawangwe, to lift the suspension arguing that the move infringes on the freedom of association and academic freedom which are provided for in the Constitution of Uganda.

On December 21, 2018, Nawangwe suspended MASA Chairperson Bennet Magara and the association’s Secretary Joseph Kalema after the two individuals wrote to the University Secretary asking that the university’s management should not meddle in the affairs of the associations there. These were also suspended on alleged incitement of staff against Nawangwe and his allies. The two are employees in the Directorate of Internal Audit and Directorate of Human Resources respectively.

Nawangwe would further also suspend Dr. Deus M. Kamunyu, the MUASA Chairperson who is a lecturer in the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism.

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“We wish to state that every Ugandan has a constitutional right of freedom of speech, and expression and freedom of association,” they argue in the letter dated January 25, 2019. The freedoms, the lecturers say include freedom to form and join associations, or unions, such as trade unions, political parties and other civic organisations as expressed in the constitution.

They also refer to sections 68 and 93 of the University and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, 2001 which recognises the right of staff to form associations. They say Section 93 states that: “There shall be an academic staff association whose aims shall be to promote the academic and welfare interests of the academic staff.”

The group says the university managers have no basis to challenge the legality of MUASA and MASA since their existence is recognised by both the Constitution of Uganda and University and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, 2001.

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