Makerere University Staff tribunal rules on dismissal of varsity employees

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On 15th July 2020, the Makerere University Staff Tribunal made its decision in a matter filed by Dr. Juma Anthony Okuku. In the case, Dr. Okuku sought to quash the decision of the University’s Appointments Board to dismiss him from employment. Dr. Stella Nyanzi, Dr. Dennis Asiimwe, Dr. Steven Tumutegyerize and Dr. James Ocita were also part of the 2019 case.

The matter mainly revolved around having the five reinstated on half-pay pending the determination of their appeals by the Retired Justice Patrick Tabaro chaired Tribunal and comprised of members Dr. Phiona Mpanga, Prof. Ben Twinomugisha, Prof. Ronald Mayambala, Mr. George Turyamureeba, Ms. Sarah Wegosasa and Ms. Kusasira Edith.

The university dons, through their counsel, Isaac Ssemakadde of Legal Brains Trust argued that once a dismissed employee lodged an appeal of the dismissal with the Tribunal, they were automatically deemed to be on suspension. Suspension would then entail them to half-pay until the matter was concluded. They referred to Section 57(5) of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act. The University, represented by Counsel Prossie Katongole, argued that the law did not explicitly refer to half-pay, and thus, the Applicants could not rely on it.


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The Staff Tribunal found in the Applicants’ favor, that section 57(5) did refer to suspension and that they should be deemed to be on suspension until the determination of their appeal. Furthermore, it dismissed the University’s argument that it would be unreasonable to keep a suspended employee on the University’s payroll since there was no work being done.

The Tribunal ordered Makerere University to reinstate the employees on the payroll, clear the arrears due to the them in the form of half-pay from the time they were struck off the payroll to the time of reinstatement , and that University employees who, in future, file appeals in the Staff Tribunal after they have been removed from service by the Appointments Board be left on the payroll and be paid half their salary until their appeals are concluded by the Staff Tribunal.


 

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