Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University top management is scheduled to meet with the student’s guild leadership later today over the stalemate resulting from the 15 percent tuition increment, which started on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. In an invitation to Julius Kateregga, the Makerere University Guild President, the first Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academics Professor, Umar Kakumba, says the meeting that will seat in the Senior Common Room in the afternoon, will discuss a way forward following the unrest at the university.
Professor Kakumba acknowledges that that the unrest disrupted teaching and learning in a few colleges between Tuesday 22nd October 2019 and Friday 25th October 2019. “Kindly accord this the urgency it deserves and keep time. By copy of this, members of Central University Management are invited,” Professor Kakumba said in the letter sent out on Sunday evening. The 15 percent cumulative tuition and functional fees increment is being implemented as part of a policy, passed by the University Council in June 2018.
The week-long students protest against the fees hike saw dozens of student arrests by the military and police. Security officers broke into student rooms in halls of residences vandalized property and brutalized students. The conduct of the officers has drew condemnation from the university joint staff associations as acts of highhandedness only intended to subdue students and staff into submission and instill fear, which they argue can only serve to undermine their output, academic freedoms and standing in society.
Kateregga on his part has tabled four demands that the students want the university administration to address, which include the immediate reinstatement of suspended students, revocation of the warning letters, suspension of the cumulative 15% tuition and functional fees increment policy, the de-gazzetement of the Students Guild Electoral Reforms/Regulations and the immediate improvement of sanitation facilities in the Halls of Residence.
According to Kateregga on Oct 23rd, 2019, at about 6:30pm, security lights and security Cameras were deliberately switched off On-Campus before the security officers raided student’s residences. He accuses a top Administrator and the Personal Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor gave security green light to descend on students at Mary Stuart and Lumumba Halls of residences.
“They beat whatever came their way, destroyed University and students’ property alike, brutalized every breed and color of student, disabled, sick and vulnerable. They intended to do so in the dark of the World. Two Students remain on suspension; 11 others stay warned,” Kateregga said in his Oct 27, 2019 statement. Kateregga also accuses the university administration of de-legitimizing the student’s demands by referring to them as hooligans. “We called for dialogue several months back to iron out our differences. They kept dodging us, and even when we met, they majored on the least important of our cries and shut us up when it came to biting issues. We were despised and blackmailed that should we raise a voice to protest, we shall be EXPELLED from the University,” Kateregga said.
Bruno Kalibbala, the chairperson of the Makerere Student’s Guild Tribunal has also in a statement issued on Sunday evening urged the administration to immediately re-instate all students suspended as a result of their alleged involvement in the protest.
“On suspensions targeting students championing the protest, our considered view is that such intolerance for, and stifling of dissenting opinion is wholly inconsistent with Makerere’s local and international standing as a premier academic institution,” Kalibbala said. The student’s’ tribunal also noted that the process leading up to the recommendations by the 7-member Adhoc committee, to effect the 15% tuition increment policy was marred by neglect of duty and gross abuse of power on the part of the committee members.
And as such, its recommendations were a gross misrepresentation of the views of the students and therefore a nullity. “It is also our considered opinion that implementation of the impugned policy shall have the effect of placing education at Makerere University beyond the reach of the poor, thus neglecting the social – economic realities of the Ugandan community in particular and East Africa in general,” the students tribunal observed.