Mak VC Contradicts Self on Fake Degree Investigations

Top story
The Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu has denied approving 300 million Shillings for an investigation into alleged alteration of marks and awarding fake degrees two years ago.
Professor-Ddumba-Sentamu Makerere University Vice Chancellor (Courtesy Photo)

Audio 4

 The Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu has denied approving 300 million Shillings for an investigation into alleged alteration of marks and awarding fake degrees two years ago.

Earlier this week, social media circulated letters issued by Prof. Ddumba asking the University Secretary to process payment of 300 million and again authorising part-payment of 80 million Shillings to the committee set to investigate the scam. 

In the January 16 letter,  Prof. Ddumba Ssentamu sought for payment of the money having been requested by the University Secretary Charles Barugahare to confirm the amount for the exercise.

According to the documents seen, Barugahare became reluctant to release the money since it was not budged for prompted the Vice Chancellor to insist on the issue. The University secretary released the money on January 31 after the bursar Mr. Augustine Tamale consented to the request.

According to a voucher seen by URN, the 80 million shillings was advanced to Dr. Damalie Musoke Naggita, the Principal of School of Law to begin the work. 

But in an interview with URN, Prof. Ddumba denied the University's approval. He further adds that paying Shillings 80 million to an individual's account was mistakenly done and that the money was sent back to university accounts. 

//Cue in: “The truth of the matter…

Cue out: …a good work.”//

URN could not independently ascertain whether money was sent back. 

Prof. Ddumba told URN that the money advanced to Dr. Naggita was to cater for adverts and other logistical issues including small allowances.

//Cue in: “These are investigations…

Cue out: …for a whole day.”//

According to the vouchers, each member of the committee is to receive 300,000 shillings as sitting allowance on every sitting which will amount to 266 million shillings for the over 40 hearings. 

Usually, University Council members who come from outside the university receive a net allowance of 300,000 per sitting while insiders including staff and students who sit on council receive 165,000 shillings. Senate committees receive between 50,000 and 80,000 shillings. 

This payment however did not go down well with members of Muasa, an association body for lecturers who say the university lacks prioritisation.   

Muasa insists that the Vice Chancellor is exposing himself as he justifies the amount of money to be received as allowances by the committee.  

Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the Muasa publicist told URN that the university has had committees in the past over similar cases and no action taken.

//Cue in: “The fact that you…

Cue in: …We should see action.”//

Kamunyu is concerned that the money released is not on the university budget for this financial year and that this is how the university has been losing money.

“In the same letters I also read that someone was asking where they should charge this money. Because it seemed not to be on the budget,” Kamunyu said.

Kamunyu wondered how many retirees would be paid out of the 300 million shillings to stop languishing on the university with unpaid retirement benefits. He said the university must think about the implications of their decisions in terms of finances.

//Cue in: “If our systems…

Cue out: …of our decisions.”//

The committee will spend six million on preparatory meetings of members, 266 million as allowances for committee members, four million for report production, 100,000 as bank charges, 8.9 million on airtime and a newspaper advert, 500,000 for stationery and the rest of the money to be used for meeting refreshments including breakfast, lunch and water.

In 2015, shortly after its 65th Graduation Ceremonies, reports emerged in the media that Makerere University had graduated up to 600 students without fulfilling the requirements for the award of degrees of the university.

Prof Ddumba Ssentamu refuted the allegations, saying the university had not awarded any fake degrees, graduated any undeserving candidates or recalled any degrees. “We treat these reports as unfounded allegations only aimed at tarnishing the image of this great institution. We in management would like to re-affirm that Makerere University was not involved in any degree scandal, has not recalled any degrees and has not issued fake degrees,” said Prof Ddumba.

Internally, however, a committee was set up to investigate the allegations.