Makerere will shine again - Prof Nawangwe

Monday, 10 July 2017

The chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Ezra Suruma, is expected to formally appoint the next vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, in the coming days.

Last week, CHRISTOPHER TUSIIME and SAFINAH NAMBAFU sounded out Prof Nawangwe and several staff and students on where the institution is headed. 

Nearly a fortnight ago, the university council sent Prof Barnabas Nawangwe’s name to the chancellor for appointment as the next vice chancellor. As the only one to emerge from the recent search process, it is taken for granted that he will be appointed to the top administrative job at Makerere.

Speaking to The Observer, Prof Nawangwe, who should take office on September 1, 2017, revealed that he intends to start his term with a five-point strategy.

“We will begin by fixing the general infrastructure, improving staff welfare, housing sector, upgrading the hospital and promoting the public private partnership (PPP) initiative,” he said.

Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

The professor of architecture further indicated that he would hit the ground running.

“My first duty shall be to work on the general infrastructure like carrying out extensive renovations of all buildings across board, with a view of giving them a facelift, the road network, water and sanitation, greening the facility.”

He explained that the strategy was intended to improve on Makerere’s international rating, now placed at third-best in Africa. “[Makerere’s] infrastructure does not march the general performance thus the need to fix it.”

In line with proposals by the University Council, Prof Nawangwe added that he would ensure that all university land is opened up for development with help from private investors.

Prof Nawangwe also urged the university staff to change their mindset, from being workers to stakeholders, as plans are under way to improve their welfare substantially.

He added that he would soon commission a student internship brigade (SIB), a project to see graduate students deployed among districts to help in implementing government programmes. The strategy is based on research that shows that many new districts lack the capacity to recruit and retain qualified staff to improve service delivery.

“[SIB’s] mandate shall be to send out graduating students to do internship work among districts like helping those places with planning of the development of their upcoming small towns,” he said.

“These students can participate in constructing health centres, fixing roads, improving on community water and sanitation services and education among others.” 


Meanwhile, Prof Nawangwe’s impending appointment has excited many at Makerere. Guild President Paul Kato says he is looking to the new vice chancellor for answers to a myriad of challenges at Makerere, including delayed salaries, student and staff strikes, poor sanitation as well as missing marks.

Kato urged Nawangwe to treat the missing marks problem very seriously.

“You know we have to register every semester, but a student comes, studies for the whole semester and actually goes to do exams before registration … but his marks are missing,” Kato railed. “They should come up with a mechanism that enables every student to be captured in the system.”

For Penlope Ainomugisha, a third-year student of bachelor of Commerce (external), the university management has neglected external students for long.

“We have always wanted to be part of the university and not in tents around Makerere West ... We hope Nawangwe fulfills our dreams.”

The chairman of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association, Dr Muhammad Kiggundu, is also expectant.

“We now expect transparency in terms of financial management, in terms of human resource management,” Dr Kiggundu said.

Kiggundu urged Prof Nawangwe to ensure respect for staff and students as the two hold the university together. Bruce Twesigye, the general secretary of Public Universities Non-Teaching Staff Executive Forum, wants Prof Nawangwe to pay keen attention to non-teaching staff members who have worked for the university for decades but are yet to be promoted.

He also expects Nawangwe to lead the move to harmonize their salaries alongside those of other public universities.