Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University has come under fire for disqualifying two guild candidates for allegedly holding an illegal electoral debate at the University.
On Thursday, the University’s Electoral Commission Chairperson, Levi Tshilumba said the two candidates were disqualified for holding a “Kimeza” which is contradicting 10 (b) of the new students’ guild statute, 2022.
According to the statute, the student election at the University shall be virtual unless otherwise determined by the University Council”
The two candidates include the National Unity platform- NUP flag bearer Margaret Nattabi and independent candidate Sulaiman Namwoza. Tshilumba said both aspirants admitted to taking part in the debate.
However, the news about the disqualification of the two students sparked fury from not only students but also other political party leaders and sympathizers who castigated the University for denying students their right to freely affiliate themselves with their preferred political parties.
Nattabi alleged that the University’s grounds for disqualifying them is a pretext. She claims that she was barred from the race because of being a member of the National Unity Platform-NUP party.
Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu alias Bobi Wine, the President of NUP used his Twitter handle to accuse the University administration of failing students to express themselves.
Got news that @Makerere has disqualified @NUP_Ug‘s Nattabi Margaret from the students’ guild race. This is an affront to the sacred concept of academic freedom and the constitutional rights to speech & association that any academic institution must guard with its very existence. pic.twitter.com/AIGTqTIq6P
— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) April 7, 2023
“This is an affront to the sacred concept of academic freedom and the constitutional rights to speech and association that any academic institution must guard with its very existence.” Part of the tweet reads.
Lewis Rubongoya, the NUP General Secretary said that the University is trying to stifle the voices of students who are spearheading a revolutionary drive to challenge the prevailing status quo.
Namwoza, said that the intention of the University is to silence all students who stand boldly to challenge policies that do not favor students.
On Friday, Tshilumba wrote to all candidates asking them to dissociate themselves from partisan politics.
The nine candidates include; Sabiiti Akankunda Julius Birigwa Robert Maseruka, Baraka Nkoyooyo, and Oremo Odwee. Others are Mark Ssebunya, Andrew Lubinga, Evans Murungi and Emmanuel Wanyama.
Since July 2022, when a student of Uganda Christian University Betungura Bewatte, died during the Makerere guild campaigns, the University banned all future physical guild elections and ruled that going forward, student leaders will be voted virtually.
Additionally, the University recommended that partisan politics in student leadership must be prohibited because often political identities tend to override the fundamental identity, which is being a student.