Mak Legal Directorate Scorns Law Dons in Leaked Chats

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In short
The staff of the legal directorate described the legal opinion as laughable, embarrassing and stupid, according to contents of a WhatsApp thread detailing a discussion held among legal brains at the University between February 9 and 13, 2019. It is in this conversation that a plan to shut the law school was mooted.

The Legal Directorate of Makerere University had ridiculed two legal opinions by the law dons prior to the indefinite closure of the Law School by Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe. 

In one of the opinions, the School of Law advised the Vice Chancellor to lift the suspension of association leaders in the university; they described the suspensions as illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful. In the second opinion, the law dons questioned the powers of the Vice-Chancellor to suspend staff and appoint a committee to investigate them.

They also stated that the Makerere University Human Resource Manual is riddled with several illegalities, which contradict the Constitution and other employment laws. The School of Law Dons observed that it was unconstitutional and unlawful for management to suspend or otherwise purport to discipline any leader of a staff association or union for any act done in furtherance of their staff association or union interests.

The opinions were in reference to the suspension of Bennet Magara and Joseph Kalema; both leaders of the Makerere Administrative Staff Association - MASA and Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the Makerere University Academic Staff Association - MUASA chairperson, who were suspended for alleged misconduct and violation of the terms of their employment. The suspension has since paralyzed business at the university.

But the staff of the legal directorate described the legal opinion as "laughable, embarrassing and stupid," according to contents of a WhatsApp thread of the Makerere Directorate of Legal Affairs (MAK DLA), detailing a discussion held among legal brains at the University between February 9 and 13, 2019. It is in this conversation that a plan to shut the law school was mooted.

The conversation was mainly among five people; Esther Kabinga, recently appointed by the Vice Chancellor to provide legal guidance to a committee set up to probe staff suspensions, Henry Mwebe, the Director Legal Affairs, Ivan Bwowe, a former Guild President and another staff identified as Leon.

It capitalized largely on a quote from submissions by Associate Prof. Ronald Kakungulu Mayambala who told striking staff that he would be useless to teach law in a seemingly lawless society.

Mwebe, one of the group members lashed out at the law dons, referring to them as professors with textbook knowledge.  "I am sure if they make them sit the LDC pre-entry exam, they would all fail," Mwebe said before Kabinga observed that teaching the law and practicing the law were two different things.

According to Mwebe, it was a big shame for the law school that teaches law students to come up with a "stupid and laughable opinion adding that even first year students would give better arguments. He suggested that Makerere law school should be closed and that all lecturers sacked. "Is this what they teach our students?" Mwebe questioned.

In response, Kabinga said that the law dons needed to apologize for misleading the public. During the conversations, the head of the legal directorate offered to teach the law dons and urged the rest of the staff members to volunteer as lecturers.

On the platform, one of the members Ivan Bwowe asked the legal directorate staff to present and interpret the law fairly. He observed that the University lawyers were relying on the University Human Resources Manual which was an inferior law to the national laws that law dons were quoting.

It was in the course of the discussion that Prof Nawangwe authored a 7-page report recommending the indefinite closure of the School of Law.  Nawangwe observed the standoff at the university had remained predominant in the School of Law where the school leadership has "openly declared leadership of the acts of defiance."

"Armed with misleading advice by some staff of the School of Law, Executives of staff associations want an unconditional lifting of the suspension of Dr Deus K. Muhwezi as a condition for calling the General Assembly to lift the purported strike," Nawangwe wrote.


About the author

Davidson Ndyabahika
Davidson Ndyabahika is a Journalism major from Makerere University and is passionate about investigative and data journalism with special interest in feature story telling.

He has gone through digital and multi-media training both at Ultimate Multimedia Consult, and has attended Data Journalism Sessions at ACME to enrich his capacity in data journalism.

Davidson has previously freelanced with The Campus Times, The Observer, Chimp reports and URN. He is currently reporting under Education. He is also passionate about reporting on environment, health, crime and political satire writing.

Follow him on Twitter: @dndyaba