By Andrew Irumba
Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has finally come out to state its position about the current standoff between students, Administration and security forces at Makerere University.
Police and the military deployed heavily at Makerere University following last week’s protests by student against the 15 percent increment in tuition.
The protests which spurn four days have put business in Kampala suburbs and the University on a standstill as police and military keep running battles with students.
As a stakeholder in Makerere University and its business operations, KCCA has come out to give its position about the situation at the University.
In a letter issued October 25, 2019 by the Kampala Lord Mayor Elias Lukwago, KCCA calls upon the Administration of MUK to consider revising the 15 tuition increment and if possible to scrap it off, such that sanity can resume at the University, which has since been turned into a battle zone of sorts.
The KCCA letter titled ‘IMPASSE AT MAKERERE UNIVERSITY’, states partly thus;”I bring you warm greetings from Kampala Capital Authority and Special appreciation for the Staff;s dedicated service to the University in the cardinal spirit of building for the future.
As a key stakeholder and Member of the Governing Council of the University under the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, 2001 (S.38 1(f), Kampala Capital City Authority had the opportunity this morning of deliberating the current dire state of affairs obtaining at the Ivory Tower.
This followed a report presented by Hon. Doreen Nyanjura, the Area Authority Councillor and KCCA Representative onto the University council to the effect that;
a) The University campus has been turned into a garrison after a heavy deployment of officers and men of different security agencies including the military.
b) Egregious violations of students’ rights who have been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, torture, brutality, destruction of property and sexual molestation.
c) Arrests and incarceration of a big number of students who have been denied access to their lawyers, personal physicians and loved ones.
In the course of deliberations, members registered their concerns over the deplorable state of affairs that has regrettably turned our revered University into a centre of savagery as opposed to academic excellence.
It was accordingly resolved that the office of the Lord Mayor should formally register the Institution’s concerns, as I hereby do, with suggestions that;
1) A University Council meeting be urgently convened to address the matters in controversy.
2) The hiked tuition structure which triggered the chaos be retabled before an Emergency council Meeting with a view of rescinding or revising it.
3)All students arrested and currently detained in various detention centres be unconditionally released.
4) The University should work out modalities of engaging all relevant stakeholders including the Students’ Guild on all the controversial policy matters.
Guild President Announces Blood Monday
Meanwhile, the MUK Guild President Julius Kateregga, who was released from detention last week after days behind bars, has announced a bloody Monday (October 28) if the University Administration doesn’t give in to students’ demands.
The demands include among others; scrapping of the 15% tuition increment, freeing all students in detention, reinstating all suspended and expelled students, plus dismissing all the security operatives currently deployed at the University.
Kateregga issued the warning about ‘Bloody Monday’ in a statement he issued on social media over the weekend, which we reproduce verbatim below;
RE: OUR DEMANDS AND THE MILITARY CRACKDOWN ON MAKERERE UNIVERSITY
We are bloodied, but unbowed!
On Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019, at about 6:30pm, Security lights and security Cameras were deliberately switched off On-Campus, under the direct instruction of two University officials: One a top a Administrator and the other the Personal Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor, who is also a close relative to the Personal Assistant to the First lady. The Military then pounced onto Mary Stuart Hall under the Command of a Military Official the Students Guild is yet to ascertain. They beat whatever came their way, destroyed University and Students Property alike, brutalised every breed and color of student, disabled, sick and vulnerable. They intended to do so in the black of the World. Two Students remain on suspension, 11 others stay warned.
And that is how University Management has been operating for the past two years. It was only a matter of time that their folly bursts out for the entire world to witness.
They have called us names to delegitimise our demands. They have called us hooligans. The world has witnessed who the real Hooligans of Makerere University are. They have called us ‘a group of errant students.’ They claim that we destroy University Property during our Peaceful Demonstrations. Was it us that broke down doors at Lumumba Hall and destroyed property in rooms worth millions of shillings? Now, they claim that we are being used by some elements in Uganda to frustrate them, we shall deconstruct that lie to the world to witness the dishonesty and hyprocrisy with which we have been managed for past two years in Makerere University.
We called for dialogue several months back to iron out our cries. 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
Even when we cried out that the rate at which tuition is being hiked is too exorbitant for those that are to come after us shall afford. They arrogantly responded that University Education is not for everyone to achieve, and that it is none of our business to discuss how the University decides its fees.
As it stands, there is a deliberate divide and govern approach the University has argued in their defence in regards to the cumulative 15% tuition increment.
For instance a first year student of Agricultural Engineering in the 2017/2018 academic year pays 1,952,500/= in their first Semester. A first year student of the 2018/2019 Academic year pays 2,287,500/=, the 2019/2020 will be required to pay 2,625,205/= in the first semester, the 2020/2021 cohort shall be required to pay about 3,010,709/=, the 2021/2022 cohort shall be required to pay about 3,455,562/= and by the end of the Cumulative increment in 2022/2023 a first year student of Agricultural Engineering shall be required to pay about 3,967,149/=, reflecting over 102% increment from the 2017/2018 cohort.
In otherwards, every cohort of students that join the University pays a much higher sum of fees than the Cohort that joined a year earlier.
They claim that the one cohort should not interest itself in the fees condition of those that are yet to come. They forget that we share families, relations and a Nation with those that are yet to join the University and directly feel the impact of the increment for those that join a year later. Or have they disinterested themselves with the motto: WE BUILD FOR THE FUTURE?
Every academic year, the number of those that drop out due to financial related challenges keep rising with the new tuition increment structure. Last year alone, over 1000 students failed to sit exams because of failing to clear tuition dues. This is a rise of over 20% from those that had failed to clear dues the previous year and we are saying, halt the increment as it stands now (at about 40% for the current cohort of the 2019/2020 Students).
We are bloodied, but unbowed in our resolve to demand for the following:
1. Immediate reinstatement of Suspended students and revocation of the warning letters
2.Immediate Halting of the cumulative 15% tuition increment
3. Degazzetment of the Students Guild Electoral Reforms/Regulations
4. Immediate renovation of the Sanitation facilities in the Halls of Residence
The Students Guild and the Students Body at large thanks all those that have stood with us as we continue with our Peaceful Demonstration tomorrow, Monday 28th October, awaiting an official call for dialogue from the University Council and relevant Authorities.
Here to Balance the Hill
We Build For the Future
85th Guild President