Court orders Makerere University to reinstate Dr Stella Nyanzi and to pay her 120M in damages

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Last updated on July 14th, 2021 at 12:24 pm


High Court Judge Justice Lydia Mugambe has Thursday ordered Makerere University to implement a decision of its Staff Appeals Tribunal to reinstate Dr Stella Nyanzi to her job as a Research Fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR). The Court also ordered the University to pay Dr Nyanzi 120M Uganda Shillings in damages for causing her embarrasment, inconvenience and psychological torture.

Researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi, was in 2017 suspended from her job by the University’s Appointments Board on allegations of misconduct after she staged a nude protest against her boss Prof Mahmood Mamdani, the executive director of the research institute.

She appealed the suspension to the University’s Staff Appeals tribunal which directed her reinstatement and payment of all her salary, benefits, and emoluments. The tribunal also ordered that her promotion to the position of Senior Research Fellow be considered.


Justice Lydia Mugambe
Justice Lydia Mugambe said the University’s disregard of the Staff Appeals Tribunal was irregular, irrational and unreasonable.

Makerere University refused to implement the Staff Appeals Tribunal decision arguing her contract with the University had expired and in December 2018 she was dismissed from the University.

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In her ruling, Justice Lydia Mugambe said the University’s disregard of the Staff Appeals Tribunal was irregular, irrational and unreasonable.

“It can be easily inferred that after failing to get their desired end from the tribunal process, the respondent (Makerere University) officers resorted to finding ways of circumventing it. This can be seen from the subsequent claim by [ the University] that the Applicant [Dr Stella Nyanzi] held a five year contract which expired ” She said, adding expressly:

” the [ University] officials appear to have acted in defiance of the Tribunal decision. This was irregular, irrational and unreasonable”

Institutional Governance

Dr Stella Nyanzi a firebrand activist had argued in the case through human rights lawyer Mr Isaac Ssemakadde of Legal Brains Trust that it was important for the Court to find the University’s behavior in breach of the law in order to ‘enhance the independence and accountability of the [ University’s] governance structure. ‘

In agreement, Justice Lydia Mugambe said it was ‘ wrong’ for the University to set up a Staff Appeals Tribunal and disregard its decisions.

” The purpose of an Appeals Tribunal in an institution like [Makerere University] is to give a forum to staff members to challenge the decisions of their employers before an impartial body within an institutional structure… such right of appeal is a cardinal tenet for the principles of fairness and Justice. The tribunal is one of the institutional structures to prevent impunity ” She said.


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” The [University] has an overarching duty to implement the decisions of its Staff Appeals Tribunal. It is not within its powers to cherry pick which ones it implements and which one it circumvents. The [ University] officers who overtly or covertly refused to implement the Tribunal decisions were in contempt of the Tribunal ” She went on.

The 120M award will be paid at an annual rate of 10% until paid in full. The Judge also awarded Dr Stella Nyanzi costs of the application and ordered that any timelines set by the Staff Appeals Tribunal that have ever since elapsed take effect today.


 

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