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Strike isn’t over- Makerere University Guild leaders

FILE PHOTO: Makerere Student strike

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University students have vowed to continue with their peaceful demonstration until the University listens to their demands.

The University vice Guild President, Judith Nalukwago told journalists at Centigrade restaurant in Nakulabye yesterday that they cannot call off the student’s strike until management addresses their concerns.

Nalukwago, who is the acting guild president, fired the Guild Prime Minister, Emmanuel Obbo early last week for issuing a communication indicating that they had called off the strike.

Nalukwago says they are planning to hold a general assembly at the Freedom Square in Makerere on Monday to forge a way forward.

On October 31st, 2019, Makerere University Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe issued a statement asking students to return to class, saying the situation was calm despite some hiccups. He said the semester would continue as planned and reminded students of examinations starting 18th November 2019.

Nalukwago says they will not be forced to return to class, adding that they will continue demanding for a hearing. Students want the University to recall the 15% tuition increment, reinstate all suspended students and withdraw security from Freedom square, a converging area for students.

Nalukwago also told journalists that Professor Eria Hisali, the Principal of College of Business and Management Science together with Gordon Murangira, the Personal Secretary to Nawangwe should be suspended and investigated for their role in brutalizing students.

She accuses the two especially Murangira for sanctioning security to mishandle students. Apart from brutally arresting students, the military police officers entered Michelle and Lumumba halls on October 24th, 2019. They beat up students and destroyed property.

The operation is said to have been led by Captain Ronald Lubaare, who was arrested on Friday for his role in the saga. Nalukwago says that while the arrest of Lubeera is a good step, they real master minders of the brutality have not been dealt with.

As they continue with the strike, students also want to sue the University for violating their freedom of Assembly and Association, freedom of speech, failure to protect its own students against security forces and destruction of property.

Joshua Katabazi, a law student, says the University needs to answer about their actions and compensate the affected students.

The impasse at Makerere started on October 22nd, 2019 with students protesting the 15% tuition increment policy adopted by the University in 2018. While the University says students were involved in the process, the students say the process was marred with irregularities including, denying them the opportunity to share findings of a bench marking research with the general student population. Students say they were hijacked into passing the policy.

The strike has paralyzed business at Makerere University. Dozens of students have been arrested and freed while others have been beaten, suspended and some issued warning letters. On Thursday 31st, 2019, parliament tasked the Parliamentary Committee on Education to investigate the impasse at Makerere.

Students say they are ready to cooperate with the committee and will provide all necessary information to help during the investigation.

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