KAMPALA – Last week, Makerere University disqualified two guild candidates for the institution’s 89th guild presidency.
The National Unity Platform’s Margret Nattabi and Forum for Democratic Party’s Sulaiman Namwoza were disqualified for taking part in a University debate popularly known as Kimeeza in Mitchel Hall on 5th April where they rallied for support.
The e-voting exercise which concluded Friday evening was finally won by Mr Robert Maseruka, a Journalism and Communication student.
Maseruka beat his challengers with 2,558 votes, according to Mr Levi Tshilumba, the chairperson of the electoral commission. His closest contender, Mr Hillary Oremo Odwee managed to pocket 2,531 votes.
Speaking on the university’s actions on Friday, the interparty youth leaders from the nine political party youth leagues that constitute the Interparty Youth Flatform (IYOP), including ANT, CP, DP, FDC, JEMMA, NRM, PPP, HUP UFA and UPC decried the action taken describing it as “draconian, discriminatory and does not represent the very mission of Makerere University.”
Mr. Abdul Wahab Kasozi – Platform Chairperson says the decision to foil duly nominated candidates from participating in the guild elections in any public or private University means that Universities are ganging up against youth and political parties.
On April 07 Makerere University issued a directive demanding that all candidates record a video of themselves denouncing their association with political parties they belong to or else be disqualified.
Kasozi notes that while they acknowledge the need to regulate student activities on campuses in Uganda including guild electoral activities, there is a need to do so in ways that do not undermine the rights of the students to freely participate in political spaces in their respective colleges and halls of residences.
“We also note with concern the decision by Makerere University Council to ban multiparty activities at the University premises.”
These challenged the country’s oldest institution to borrow a leaf from other public universities such as Gulu University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Kyambogo University among others, where they say students and politics are well managed and guided.
Mr. Musili David, Head of Institutions and Deputy Youth Wing at National Unity Platform termed the decision as an attack to the democracy and multiparty system “because what is happening at the hill [Makerere] only indicates that this is an insult to the students’ freedom.”
Now, these want the University leadership to;
Review the current Guild Statute which contains draconian provisions intended to undermine the enjoyment of the right to belong to a political party as guaranteed by Article 29 of the Constitution of Uganda and Section 3 (2) of the Political Parties and Organizations Act.
Reconsider the decision to suspend students from the University on account of their affiliation to political parties so that they immediately return to pursuing their academic obligations.
Accord the affected candidates the fundamental right of a fair hearing.
Review the process of electing leaders at the University using online platforms as this is likely to disenfranchise some voters, and
Review the process of conducting campaigns scientifically and allow candidates to campaign freely as was the case before.
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