Uganda: Auditor General Reports Makerere University Management Flaws

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makere-universityThe soon-to-be appointed commission of enquiry into the mismanagement of Makerere University will have its work cut out, if the revelations in the last auditor general’s report on Makerere University are anything to go by.

In the report to Parliament, which was signed on December 21st, 2015, the auditor general, John Muwanga, reveals how Uganda’s oldest university has over the years continued to flout financial accountability rules with a series of questionable financial transactions.

For years, Makerere has been gripped by a financial crisis, with lecturers now on strike over months-worth of unpaid ‘incentive’ allowances. Starved of learning, the students staged their own strike on Tuesday.

Later that evening, President Museveni issued an immediate order closing the 94-year Makerere University after the lecturers’ strike had entered the second week and the students’ strike was becoming more violent.

Police and the military were deployed in their hundreds to try and contain the riotous students who had gone on rampage, burning tyres and closing roads surrounding the university on top of destroying traders’ properties.

The soon-to-be appointed commission of enquiry into the mismanagement of Makerere University will have its work cut out, if the revelations in the last auditor general’s report on Makerere University are anything to go by.

In the report to Parliament, which was signed on December 21st, 2015, the auditor general, John Muwanga, reveals how Uganda’s oldest university has over the years continued to flout financial accountability rules with a series of questionable financial transactions.

For years, Makerere has been gripped by a financial crisis, with lecturers now on strike over months-worth of unpaid ‘incentive’ allowances. Starved of learning, the students staged their own strike on Tuesday.

Later that evening, President Museveni issued an immediate order closing the 94-year Makerere University after the lecturers’ strike had entered the second week and the students’ strike was becoming more violent.

Police and the military were deployed in their hundreds to try and contain the riotous students who had gone on rampage, burning tyres and closing roads surrounding the university on top of destroying traders’ properties.

However, Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu rejects any suggestions that he and his team have mismanaged Makerere. In an interview with The Observer on Wednesday, Ddumba-Ssentamu said Makerere’s problems go way back before he was appointed vice chancellor.

“People should stop talking nullities. They should stop these blame games. They are not honest. In this university, the money is inadequate. You cannot talk to me that the problems we are facing are because of the mismanagement of Ddumba-Ssentamu when we are paying debts that go way back to 1996; was I the vice chancellor then?” Ddumba asked.

AUDIT QUERIES

However, according to auditor general Muwanga’s report, some of the audit queries are recent. Muwanga discovered that Shs 511 million, of which Shs 219 million was personal advances to staff, remained outstanding for more than 12 months without the university making any effort to recover it.

“The funds were advanced to staff to carry out various activities of the university. In the absence of the relevant accountability documents, it was not possible to confirm that the funds were used for the intended purposes,” wrote Muwanga.

The auditor general adds that the university has also consistently declared donor funds amounting to only Shs 10.9 billion from SIDA – SAREC projects. But it did not disclose other non-bilateral donor grants/projects.

“Without proper disclosure of donor funding, I could neither ascertain how much the university received from other donors nor confirm if those funds were used for the intended purposes,” the report adds.

The auditor general was also bothered by the Makerere leadership’s decision to secretly lease its land in Kololo to a private investor for Shs 1.5bn without the knowledge of the education minister.

“The proceeds from the transactions were transferred directly to the university expenditure account and expensed. I further noted that this transaction was not disclosed and reported in the financial statements under the memorandum statement of disposal of physical assets,” Muwanga says.

However, Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu rejects any suggestions that he and his team have mismanaged Makerere. In an interview with The Observer on Wednesday, Ddumba-Ssentamu said Makerere’s problems go way back before he was appointed vice chancellor.

“People should stop talking nullities. They should stop these blame games. They are not honest. In this university, the money is inadequate. You cannot talk to me that the problems we are facing are because of the mismanagement of Ddumba-Ssentamu when we are paying debts that go way back to 1996; was I the vice chancellor then?” Ddumba asked.

AUDIT QUERIES

However, according to auditor general Muwanga’s report, some of the audit queries are recent. Muwanga discovered that Shs 511 million, of which Shs 219 million was personal advances to staff, remained outstanding for more than 12 months without the university making any effort to recover it.

“The funds were advanced to staff to carry out various activities of the university. In the absence of the relevant accountability documents, it was not possible to confirm that the funds were used for the intended purposes,” wrote Muwanga.

The auditor general adds that the university has also consistently declared donor funds amounting to only Shs 10.9 billion from SIDA – SAREC projects. But it did not disclose other non-bilateral donor grants/projects.

“Without proper disclosure of donor funding, I could neither ascertain how much the university received from other donors nor confirm if those funds were used for the intended purposes,” the report adds.

The auditor general was also bothered by the Makerere leadership’s decision to secretly lease its land in Kololo to a private investor for Shs 1.5bn without the knowledge of the education minister.

“The proceeds from the transactions were transferred directly to the university expenditure account and expensed. I further noted that this transaction was not disclosed and reported in the financial statements under the memorandum statement of disposal of physical assets,” Muwanga says.