Who Is Behind Who In Mak VC Race
By Serestino Tusingwire
In two weeks time, Makerere Senate and Governing Council members are expected to have decided who becomes the new VC replacing Prof Ddumba-Sentamu. On Thursday (today), the three finalists (Venenscias Baryamureeba, Barnabas Nawangwe & Edward Kirumira) publicly presented their credentials and campaigned before Senate members at an event in the Main Hall.
The search committee, headed by Irene Ovonji, will write their report guiding Senate on who is most suitable. The Senators, numbering over 80, will then convene to vote under the Chairmanship of VC Ddumba-Sentamu.
After Senate, a report will be sent to Council to choose the very best to become VC whereafter the Chancellor Ezra Suruuma will formally appoint the new VC. All this is expected to be concluded in two weeks time, according to sources close to the Ovonji committee.
As the campaigning intensifies, new details have emerged showing arguments being made for or against the respective candidates. Kirumira had previously been associated with the problems of Ddumba era on the false impression that he was Ddumba’s candidate. But our reliable information is that Ddumba actually supports Baryamureeba. Sources say this is for a number of reasons.
Firstly Ddumba benefited from Barya’s support in Council to get the job 5 years ago. Secondly, he is desperate to frustrate Nawangwe’s bid and considers Barya stronger than Kirumira who many Senators and Council members favor for the post of DVC (F/A) and not VC.
Ddumba has also never been comfortable being replaced by a fellow Muganda. Instead his people approached Banyankole Professors Bernard Bashasha and JWT Mugisha assuring them of support. However, the duo who is currently Principals, declined to run for the VC job arguing it’s financially very expensive.
It’s said that Ddumba always perceived Kirumira as a competitor splitting his would-be Masaka and Catholic clique block vote in especially Senate. Currently the Principal CHUSS, Kirumira has been running for a while for the VC job. Besides Ddumba, Barya’s other biggest supporter currently is Besigye aide Doreen Nyanjura who represents KCCA in Council.
She was also a Deputy Guild President a few years ago and served with Barya in the previous council. Closely working with Kawempe Councilor Harris Akampulira of FDC, Nyanjura expects Barya to allow her use one of the University buildings for her office. The Ddumba administration refused to give her the office space fearing to annoy State House that might perceive them as anti-government given her strong opposition to Museveni.
Barya is also supported by Prof Kerali of CEDAT and Prof Oburra of CoCiS. Prof David Kabasa of Veterinary College is also for Barya. He likes him for being development-oriented. Kabasa is unhappy with the current administration because they hijacked his programs under AFRISA, starving COVAB of hundreds of millions in tuition.
Barya, who is competing without support of very influential Appointments Board Chairman Bruce Kabasa, has also been endorsed by shrewd city tycoons whose agents have been calling Council and Senate members offering colossal sums of money in case they vote for him.
The tycoons are marketing him as somebody who is development-minded and will allow them to come to Makerere and partner to develop its vast land in Makindye and Kololo. It’s unclear whether Barya is aware of the discredited tycoon’s support.
“He is less bureaucratic and once you vote him back to the VC office we are going to pour money in your initiatives like the Endowment Fund,” one of the city tycoons owning a University was quoted as marketing Barya to one of the Senate members.
The weighing in of these city tycoons has created appetite amongst Senate and Council members to eat the money but vote someone else. Ddumba is also said to be for Barya because of the way he nicely spoke about him the day he took office. Barya, who was being bullied by Odoi Tanga, that evening, praised Ddumba for being a responsible Professor ever acting maturely.
“I’m sure my portrait won’t be removed with you being my successor. I’m sure you won’t pull it down and I’m happy to hand over to a gentleman like you,” Barya said whereafter he went to establish his UTAMU university. He has been seen in the evenings driving to Makerere to campaign for himself to different deans and other electors. Barya, who stopped buying posh cars when he left Makerere, has been sneaking in incognito.
WHAT RIVALS SAY
Senate is one place the Barya camp fears most because Senators are determined to frustrate him like they did 5 years ago. In conjunction with the likes of Tanga, who is now very influential in Council where Barya used to be very strong in the past, are decampaigning Barya basing on his past track record.
They are referring to the news articles he used to write belittling Makerere academic staff each time they went on strike arguing they don’t deserve any payrise. He dismissed their demands as unreasonable and supported government refusal to give in to their demands. They are also talking about the NUFFIC inquiry regarding the Shs2.5bn that was questioned at CIT and they say the matter has never been concluded for him to clear his name.
He was VC at the time the report was supposed to have come out and be implemented but that never happened and even Ddumba has been quiet throughout.
“Prof Katunguka who was the whistle blower is now the VC Kyambogo. How will Baryamureeba relate with him given that history?” ranted a Senator who is anti-Barya.
NUFFIC funded a University-wide ICT program which ended up being localized at Barya’s CIT faculty, a thing then Graduate School boss Katunguka protested citing financial impropriety in the program. The adversaries fault Ben Byembabazi, then University bursar, for not being hard enough on the guys at CIT.
The Tangas are also talking about the Shs10bn financial crisis Makerere found itself in because of Barya’s ambitious construction activities at CIT. That the then US Sam Akorimo was permitted by Council to sign the contract after Barya indicated CIT had the money (over Shs12bn) to wholly fund the construction of the 2nd complex.
Council was also told the Finance Ministry had agreed to pay the VAT on the project amounting to Shs1.5bn. This turned out untrue when Finance wrote to Council saying their signature had been forged. In the end the contractor was on Makerere’s case as the Shs12bn couldn’t be paid yet on Barya’s advice, Council had committed to pay.
“This is how Makerere found itself in big debts and the financial situation has never stabilized up to this day. And we hold Barya responsible for that crisis,” says a Senator opposed to Barya.
Mathew Rukikaire was then the Chairman Council but was later replaced by Wana Etyem. The staff members, represented by Dr. Sarah Ssali and JB Nyakana, also say that during the time Barya was VC, Makerere defaulted remitting Shs10bn to DAP which was managing the staff pension funds.
This later caused strikes prompting government to bail out Council. Not that the Barya administration ate the money; it was a problem of prioritization. DAP management had to get a court order freezing all Makerere accounts including those with donor money.
There was paralysis until central government bailed out Council. During the resultant strike, Barya wrote an article belittling staff demands. This is one thing that ferments a lot of anger amongst staff towards Barya. Some envious Senators believe Barya has never denounced his Presidential ambitions and is coming to use the Mak VC post to revitalize himself ahead of 2021.
They also question the circumstances under which he became VC in 2012 in a disputed Council exercise where he defeated Prof Luboobi and Kirumira to become Acting VC. They argue that Rukutana, who was a Barya supporter, wrote in his capacity as Higher Education Minister guiding that Mak couldn’t recruit a substantive VC because the Universities & Other Tertiary Institutions Act was being amended.
There was an amendment bill in Parliament and Luboobi’s term was ending. Having defeated Luboobi and Kirumira, Barya was elevated from being CIT Dean to act as VC for two years. The angry Senators say this was mischievous of Council because Gulu University shunned Rukutana’s letter and recruited a substantive VC.
Many argue this was done to favor Barya who had support of almost everybody in Council at that time. They argue that when he got the VC post, Barya sought to crush his adversaries like Tanga by pressurizing the US Akorimo to knife Tanga who had fallen out with him after ascending to office. When the US refused, Barya became enemies with him and the Senators fear even now if he wins and returns, some Professors will be witch-hunted and thereby fermenting more intrigue at Makerere. Many Senators are said to favor Kirumira.
For starters, Senate comprises of over 80 people including the 30 Deans, the 10 Principals and members of top management namely the VC, the DVCs, University Secretary, Bursar and Dean of Students. You have two student representatives, three people from Mubs including the Principal Balunywa or his rep and two government representatives. Barya’s biggest opposition is among the Principals and the 30 deans who dislike him as was manifested five years ago when he emerged 4th in the Senate vote.
Even at Council level, things have changed. He can no longer take things for granted having lost giants like Bruce Kabasa now closely backing one of his rivals. The entry of Tanga is another complicating factor for Barya at Council level. Barya’s other problem is that the colleagues he persuaded to resign to go with him to start UTAMU have since fallen out with him and are quietly working to frustrate his dream to reclaim his Mak position. Many of them regret lost career time and wish they didn’t associate themselves with the UTAMU dream.