On March 31, 2017 Dr. Stella Nyanzi was indefinitely suspended from Makerere University for allegedly attacking the First Lady and Education minister Janet Museveni on Facebook over her ‘incompetence to run the ministry of education.’
She however, appealed the decision before the Makerere staff appeals tribunal which is established under Section 56 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, through which aggrieved members of staff get the right to a fair hearing and appropriate re-dress, without hindrances from the university system.
She has since won the case in which she among other things raised the appointments board’s failure to meet its statutory obligations. The staff appeals tribunal ruled that the management of Makerere University should immediately reinstate Dr Stella Nyanzi citing that her suspension was illegal and unlawful.
In it’s ruling on Tuesday, October 2 the tribunal also ordered the university to pay Dr Nyanzi her outstanding emoluments within ten working days after the ruling. Delivering the ruling, tribunal chairperson George Omunyokol said the appointments board was at fault for failing to conduct Dr Nyanzi’s disciplinary hearings within the statutory four weeks after suspension.
He directed that if there are any disciplinary proceedings to be conducted against Dr. Nyanzi, they should be done within a period of 30 days after the ruling and that no suspension should take place until the conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings, if there are any.
The tribunal also observed that a letter seeking Dr Nyanzi’s suspension claimed that she had made it a habit to insult, dehumanize and castigate the minister of Education and Sports, but didn’t state the actual words or the specific aspects of dehumanization mentioned therein.
Shortly after the ruling, Dr Nyanzi was allowed to pass a vote of thanks and expressed happiness to the tribunal for upholding the values expected of a true academic institution describing the ruling as a “major win” for anyone with pretenses and claims of being an intellectual.
“Makerere is the place where I got my first degree. In spite of the dirt and the rot, and the stench and the filth that politicized politics has rode in Makerere University, the university staff tribunal has proved itself that there’s a remnant of academics of legal minds that understand the importance of protecting the sacred grounds of the university.” she said.
“If the university will not allow its scholars to critic those that abuse power, those that centralize the abuse of power, then we can as well pack up Uganda, there is no reason to have any thinkers in Uganda if the university can do this.”
“For those of us who are thinkers and value the right to think and express our thoughts whichever way, whichever way this for me is a major win. For me this is historical, we’re changing the law of employment, labour rights in Uganda because the abuse had penetrated to the very core of the heart that think for and about Uganda.” Dr. Nyanzi said.
And Dr. Nyanzi’s lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde from the Legal Brains Trust described the ruling as ground breaking and one which doesn’t only protect his client, but every employee of the university.
“The tribunal has in very strong terms stated that it’s the supreme authority in all matters of labour and employment at Makerere University. The university put up a very strong set of objections for this case not to go forward, but they have all been dismissed by the university staff tribunal.” He said
“We’re overjoyed to learn that the staff tribunal has been sensitive to the requirements of justice in crafting remedies that are appropriate for Dr Stella Nyanzi. We’re exceedingly impressed by the clarity of jurisprudence, the impartiality and boldness displayed today by the members of the university staff tribunal.” Ssemakadde said.
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