Makerere University has been closed until further notice following a two week lecturers’ strike over refusal by the National Insurance Company (NIC) to release their 16.7bn in pension funds. The chairman of the Council which is the University’s high decision making body, Dr. Charles Wana-Etyem announced the closure after lecturers declined appeals to return to duty.
Students were given six hours notice to vacate the university with the authorities saying that students could not keep around without studying. But the students had mounted pressure on the University authorities as they issued ultimatums and threatened to strike if the lecturers refused to resume teaching. Police on Wednesday deployed heavily to prevent students from rioting.
The lecturers’ money Shs.16.7b accumulated between July 1996 and 2005, under NIC’s deposit administration plan (DAP) for the staff’s pension scheme. Despite the Auditor General indicating that NIC owes Makerere sh26.9b, almost twice higher than the 16.7bn quoted by the lecturers, NIC continues to claim that it is only aware of sh3.7b – further irking the university staff.
The dispute has undermined the University mainly affecting the students as lecturers lay down tools at the beginning of every other academic year denting the image of a University once called the Havard of Africa in the 1960s.
Previously, President Yoweri Museveni has intervened only to buy time by promising to resolve the long standing dispute, this year his Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi also intervened and convinced the lecturers to resume teaching as they worked on the recovering their money but the lecturers stood their ground, defied their leader Tanga Odoi who had wanted to call off the strike and insisted that they would not teach without their money.