Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament Francis Zaake has said he did nothing wrong by asking the Makerere University vice chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe the ‘tough questions’
On Tuesday, Nawangwe, together with the Chairperson of the University Council, Lorna Magara were turned away by Members of Parliament on the Education Committee on which Zaake sits and asked to return the next day.
The committee is investigating the ongoing strike against the 15 per cent tuition increment at university.
On Wednesday, when the duo returned , Emmanuel Ongiertho, the Jonam County MP said Nawangwe should be relieved of his responsibilities for some time.
Also, Zaake is said to have asked Nawangwe several questions which the Professor refused to answer.
He also followed Nawangwe outside the meeting room and ‘nearly manhandled’ him.
The unruly behavior has since forced Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to order the Committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges to investigate Zaake for putting Parliament in disrepute.
“I am very disappointed that yesterday there was high bleach of Rules 83 and 84 and I hope members will desist from that conduct.
But a defiant Zaake used his social media platforms to say he does not regret his zealous and lawful efforts during the Proceedings to hold Prof. Nawangwe and his administration accountable for the terror and other grave injustice that has been silently but routinely and cruelly visited upon students and staff without a voice to speak for them.
“Many students such as Siperia Mollie and Musiri David, and staff such as Dr. Stella Nyanzi and their leader Dr. Deus Kamunyu who dare to speak out have been promptly banished from the University. This cannot go on!”
On Wednesday 6th November 2019, I attended the proceedings of Parliament’s Committee of Education and Sports as it interfaced with the administration of Makerere University led by Professor Nawangwe Barnabas. This was a continuation of the Committee’s investigations into causes of the #MakFeesMustFall student protests, and specifically the administration’s contribution to the same. During the proceedings, I probed Prof. Nawangwe on a number of issues whose positive resolution I believe would go a long way in restoring sanity at the University, and promoting a conducive environment on campus in which students and staff can freely go about their academic, extra-curricular and professional pursuits.
I asked Prof. Nawangwe, in his personal and official capacity, to explain allegations that he had condoned the military’s invasion of the University during which students were severely tortured, sexually assaulted and their property destroyed; that he or his juniors telephone parents of outspoken students threatening to kill them; that his Personal Assistant routinely brandishes firearms on campus which he uses to threaten students; that he personally sends his student-critics threatening messages on WhatsApp; that he unduly influences the cancellation of bursaries/scholarships of students opposed to his policies; that he suspends student-critics without following due process; that he engages in inappropriate relationships with female students to spy on their colleagues; and that his juniors rent University premises without remitting rental dues to the University accounts, among others.
Throughout the over 2hrs that my colleagues and I spent asking these questions, Prof. Nawangwe maintained a contemptuous smile on his face as if to show us that there is nothing Parliament can do to hold the University administration accountable if found culpable. When his turn came to address the allegations, Prof. Nawangwe maintained the sneer on his face and spent no more than 10 minutes speaking before he referred us to his juniors “to answer technical questions”. He did not address any of the questions I had put to him. He showed absolutely no remorse or compassion for the most vulnerable of students that suffered unspeakable terror in the dead of the night at the hands of the military, whose victims included disabled students in Lumumba Hall and female students in Mary Stuart Hall.
As a parent and a victim of torture-without-redress on multiple occasions including on the sacred floor of Parliament in September 2017; in Arua in August 2018; and in my own constituency a few weeks ago – by Police and the Military, I felt disappointed by Prof. Nawangwe’s contemptuous conduct, lack of accountability, and total disregard for the lives of students put under his protection. He arrogantly exuded the highest level of impunity. Accordingly, I strongly requested the Chairperson of the Committee to compel the Prof. to address the questions I had put to him but to my disappointment, the Chairperson simply shut me up with the wave of his hand.
It is then, out of frustration, that I unsuccessfully made the request directly to Prof. Nawangwe because the queries I had raised concerned the life and dignity of young men and women put in his care yet he seemed unbothered. The proceedings eventually concluded without the Professor answering my questions, and forced me to engage him in an informal discussion during which I strongly implored him to revise his conduct and properly guide his juniors. It is not true that I threatened or insulted him, and it is unfortunate that the powers that be are now attempting to draw the public’s attention from the crisis at Makerere to my personal conduct during the Committee’s proceedings.
I understand that our country has reached a level of appearing to glorify the tormentors while villifying those who call them out, but I do not regret my zealous and lawful efforts during the Proceedings to hold Prof. Nawangwe and his administration accountable for the terror and other grave injustice that has been silently but routinely and cruelly visited upon students – many of them my agemates – and staff without a voice to speak for them. Many students such as Siperia Mollie and Musiri David, and staff such as Dr. Stella Nyanzi and their leader Dr. Deus Kamunyu who dare to speak out have been promptly banished from the University. This cannot go on!
I am presently out of the country, but I will conclude this matter as soon as I return.
Hon. Zaake Francis,
Former Guild President, and Member of Parliament representing Mityana Municipality
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