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Photo combo of Dr Ronald Bisaso (left) and Dr Nicholas Itaaga (right). Photo Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • The petitioner claims his rival was given the deputy principal position despite being defeated in the interviews.

A Makerere don has petitioned the University Council praying that the appointment of his rival for the position of a deputy principal be quashed. 

Dr Nicholas Itaaga, in his March 9 petition, argues that the election of Dr Ronald Bisaso as Deputy Principal of the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) was “unreasonable and violated the principles of natural justice.”

“Despite my superior performance at both the activities through which data was collected on our qualifications for the position, Senate [has] selected Bisaso instead of me,” Itaaga says.

The petition was filed on the same day the University Council, headed by Dr Lorna Magara, endorsed and sent its recommendations of the appointments to Chancellor Ezra Suruma for approval.

At the behest of Vice Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe, the Senate on March 3 was called in to vote on the appointment of heads and deputies of five colleges.

The election was called after a search committee had interviewed and assessed the candidates and made recommendations for the respective appointments.

Prof Nawangwe, in a brief email response to this newspaper, said it is a standard procedure in Senate to put all the recommended candidates to a vote.

“It is not the first time the candidate with the highest score does not get the highest vote,” he said without citing any specifics.

While Itaaga and his colleagues agree with the vice chancellor, their grievances arise from how the process was engaged.

“Of course, voting can happen, but at an institution of Makerere’s reputation, a vote must meet certain minimum standards. A candidate cannot nominate voters to represent him as Dr Bisaso did. And voters cannot vote on people who have not been given any opportunity to present themselves to them,” Dr Jude Ssempebwa, an associate professor at CEES, said. 

In a rejoinder, Ssempebwa told Daily Monitor that Bisaso is a member of the Senate yet, without giving his competitor any opportunity to campaign or any notice that he will be voted on, allowed for the vote to proceed.

“Even the senate was only called to finalise the selection of deputy principals, and because most of them didn’t know the candidates, it was taken for granted that they would adopt the recommendations of the search committee. But the vice chancellor just declared an election,” Ssempebwa said.

Itaaga lost by three votes of 54 with Ssempebwa claiming some officials like Dr Kizito Maria Kasule, dean of Margaret Trowel School of Industrial and Fine Arts, had tried to argue against the vote.

“He [Kasule] tried to argue against voting without hearing from the candidates but the vice chancellor waved him away and instructed the secretariat to ‘give out the ballots,” he said.

Dr Kitizo was yet to respond to our request for a comment.

The latest fallout comes on the back of a long-running feud at CEES with Itaaga noting that Bisaso has previously been accused of misleading his PhD supervisees to co-publish with him in journals, costing the university losses in court cases, and doctoring of minutes of meetings.

In July last year, this newspaper reported of fights between Bisaso and Ssempebwa that had left several PhD candidates suffering “irreparable damage.”

Ssempebwa and Bisaso, who has been a dean at the East African School of Higher Education Studies, have been embroiled in feuds since 2017 – fights that have left some students victimised. By Jacobs Odongo Seaman & Joseph Kiggundu, Monitor

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