By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: The Administration of Makerere University led by prof.Barnabas Nawangwe, who is vice Chancellor of th the university has succumbed to pressure mounted upon them by students who staged protests against a 15% tuition increment now in its sixth day.
Spy Uganda has learnt that the 1st Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of academics prof.Umar Kakumba, under the instructions of the vice Chancellor prof.Barnabas Nawangwe has written letter requesting to meet the students’ guild leadership later today, Monday 28th Oct, over the stalemate resulting from the 15% tuition increment with a view of ending the impasse.
According to a request letter guised as an ‘invitation’ seen by Spy Uganda, written by Professor Umar Kakumba, the University Administration invited the Guild President Julius Kateregga and the Guild Council Representatives for a meeting aimed at finding solutions for the current impasse at the institution.
It follows days of unrest at the university, where students are protesting against a cumulative increment of tuition and functional fees. The 15 per cent 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 arrested by the military and police and several others injured after security officers broke into students’ rooms in halls of residences, vandalized property and brutalized students.
The conduct of the officers has drawn condemnation from the university joint staff associations as acts of highhandedness only intended to subdue students and staff into submission and instil fear, which they argue can only serve to undermine their output, academic freedoms and standing in society.
Professor Kakumba acknowledges that the unrest disrupted teaching and learning in a few colleges between Tuesday, 22 October 2019 and Friday, 25 October 2019.
Kateregga, on his part, tabled four demands that the students want the university administration to address before they accept to meet.
These include; The immediate reinstatement of suspended students, revocation of the warning letters, suspension of the cumulative 15 per cent tuition and functional fees increment policy, the de-gazettement of the Students Guild Electoral Reforms/Regulations and the immediate improvement of sanitation facilities in the Halls of Residence.
According to Kateregga on Oct 23, 2019, at about 6:30 pm, 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 for giving 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 colour of a 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.
Bruno Kalibbala, the chairperson of the Makerere Student’s Guild Tribunal also in a statement issued on Sunday evening,
“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 with the neglect of duty and gross abuse of power on the part of the Committee members.