Uganda: Makerere Graduation Hangs in Balance

Resumen: La  67ª ceremonia de graduación de la Universidad de Makerere que se fijó para enero del próximo año pende de un hilo después de la administración de la universidad dio a entender en un posible aplazamiento de la misma.

Kampala — Makerere University’s 67th graduation ceremony that was set for January next year hangs in the balance after the university management hinted on a possibility of postponing it.

Prof Ddumba Sentamu, the Vice Chancellor, yesterday said confirming the date for the graduation would depend on when the university would be reopened by the President.

“We may postpone the graduation depending on the circumstances. If the university is reopened this year, automatically the graduation is bound to take place on the scheduled date. But if it opens next year, it is obvious we shall also postpone the graduation,” Prof Ddumba Ssentamu said.

President Museveni indefinitely closed the university recently after students went on strike demanding that lecturers resume teaching.

The lecturers under their pressure group, the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa) general assembly, went on strike on October 26 demanding payment of incentives arrears amounting to 28b.

At the time of the strike, some students had not cleared with the university to enable them graduate while others had missing marks.

Prof Ddumba said yesterday they were waiting for guidance from the Education ministry on a way forward.

Meanwhile, the staff have defied the University Council’s directive to return university property, including cars.

All lecturers and senior administrators were ordered to hand over university cars to the estates’ department by Monday 5pm. However, a number them have defied the council directive. The university has 382 cars.

Prof Ddumba declined to reveal the number of university staff who had handed over the cars.

He dismissed claims from a section of staff members to the effect that they had not officially been notified to return the cars.

“That is a lie. We made a communication to staff members to bring back the cars. You (media) have seen the communication, how come they (staff members) have not seen it?” Prof Ddumba asked, adding: “It is difficult to say how many people have returned the cars. They are responding.”

Students guild president Roy Ssemboga said he has not received any letter requesting him to return the car.

“I just hear rumours that people are supposed to return the cars. But it’s parked,” he said.

On Tuesday, Makerere University spokesperson Ritah Namisango said she consulted the Estates and Works department who have informed her that they are on station receiving the university vehicles.

“Some members of staff have also contacted the university authorities and informed them that they will hand over the vehicles by close of business tomorrow (Wednesday). I am certain that by close of business on Wednesday [yesterday], the team from Estates and Works Department will provide an update to the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) and Vice Chancellor on the number of vehicles returned,” Ms Namisango said.

“We will then be in a position to inform the media [on] the number of vehicles returned and parked by that time,” she added.

Dr Muhammed Kiggundu, the Muasa chairperson, said: “If they found it necessary that lecturers should return cars, that is okay.”

He said less than one per cent of university lecturers have cars.

Meanwhile, Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court has remanded to Luzira Prison four Makerere University students arrested over demonstrating against the closure of the university.

They were advocating the re-opening of the Makerere University but the police said they were disrupting peace in the area.

Students jailed

Makerere University students Paul Kato, Ronald Ainebyona, Edmund Kahigi and Crispus Waswa, were charged on Tuesday with taking part in unlawful assembly and were remanded to Luzira prison. They denied the charges before Chief Magistrate Jamson Karemani.

The four were arrested on November 7 on Namirembe Road in Kampala on grounds that they were participating in an illegal demonstration.

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