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Category : Insider

Counting the losses of closing down Makerere University

By Mukalele Rogers

Since November 1st 2016 when Makerere University was closed following a directive by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in response to the university teaching staff strike and violent protests by students, many people have suffered and continue to count losses every single day the university remains closed.

The immediate suffering was experienced by the students themselves who were given hours to vacate the university premises and go back home. Most of the students didn’t have transport to go back home. The Uganda police offered to accommodate some as they mobilized money from relatives and friends, while others found places to stay in town. *Many students are still waiting within Kampala and there are reports of some students who didn’t go back home involving themselves in risky activities such as prostitution* during this time of waiting for the university’s reopening.

Many *students who reside in private hostels around the university had paid rent fees for the entire four-month semester*, but were also ordered to vacate the hostels. Many hostels have since issued notices that students will have to pay extra money when the university resumes, since the period for which they had paid is now over, as the semester was earlier scheduled to end on 17th December 2016.

*The situation for international students was worse*. They had to make arrangements to fly back to their countries. Many of them stayed around Kampala hoping that the university was to be reopened within a few days. Countries such as the South Sudan had to send help through their embassies in Uganda for their nationals to be transported back home.

The closure of Makerere University *affected medical services at Mulago hospital* and the subordinate hospitals in the city divisions. Hundreds of patients were stranded in wards, after more than 500 medical students and their lecturers withdrew from the national referral hospital. There were *reports of higher numbers of babies dying daily due to strained hospitals, especially at Kawempe*.

The unexpected closure of the university forced students and staff to abandon property and equipment in an unsafe state. Many students left some property in the halls and even some equipment were left unattended in the university premises, such as computer *equipment and chemicals in the labs, which are getting spoilt or expired every day they remain unattended to, leading to more loses costing billions to the university*.

Careers for local and international students are being delayed. The continuing students are going to have an adjusted academic calendar and hence prolonging their time of completion of their studies. Students will be coming back to pick up from where the semester ended. *The longer it takes to resume, the more their semester progress is lost. Many of the things they studied in the semester will be forgotten yet they will be required to revise hurriedly and may not perform well in their semester exams*.

*Makerere University stands to lose its good reputation which has been built over the years*. The word ‘Makerere’ is a house hold name, synonymous to the word ‘University’ even in the villages. However, many parents are increasing starting to hate Makerere University, especially now that they are watching their children idle at home yet they had paid their tuition, while other universities are operating normally. *Parents are spending more than planned*. Makerere University is now being referenced by other universities as a negative case study, for example in Uganda Christian University’s Advent Semester Labour Law Exams where the main question was about Makerere’s problems.

*Makerere University partners and donors are watching with interest and we could forfeit funding that is critical to the development of our country*. According to the auditor general’s report of June 2015, Makerere University was financed by grants from foreign governments amounting to 11 Billion shillings. However, during this period when the university is closed, the donors are losing confidence in funding Makerere University projects because they don’t have guarantee that the projects will be completed on time. Donor- funded programs that have timelines are likely to suffer. Funds are to be taken back by the donors.

*Businesses in and around Makerere, have suffered a lot during this period.* The closure of the university came at a time when several small businesses had invested their capital as the semester was at its climax. For example, the canteens within the university had perishable goods such as bananas in stock which had to rot away when the buyers unexpectedly left. Several stationery and printing kiosks and other businesses within and around the university have shifted and others have closed totally. Even banks within the university are counting losses.

*Secondary school students also suffered as they could not get Public University Joint Admission Board (PUJAB) Forms on time*. Makerere University houses the PUJAB offices and schools could not access the forms. After a public outcry, arrangements were made for schools to get the forms but many boarding school students had to wait at school for more days even after completing their UNEB exams, while others had to spend more money on transport to return to the schools to fill in the forms. The dilemma is how many students will still choose to join Makerere when it is in this state of closure. The enrollment of Makerere dropped and the continued closure will worsen the situation leading to even lower numbers of students opting to join the university in 2017/2018 academic year.

Many institutions in Uganda such as *MUBS, Nsamizi Traning Institute of Social Development, HOSPICE Africa Institute, and Health Tutors College Mulago are affiliated to Makerere University* which is the biggest institution of higher learning in the country. Makerere has robust technical resources that sustain other institutions as well. They depend on Makerere for a number of their programs including their schedule of the academic year, and *are greatly inconvenienced* too during this period of Makerere University closure. *Upcountry Campuses of Makerere University such as Jinja Campus were not involved in the strike but were also closed*.

During this period there are many scholarship opportunities especially for masters students. *Most universities in Europe are soon closing their application windows around end of January 2017 for international students*. Last week, the Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) released its list of Universities and projects that have won five-year projects for 2017-2021. SIU will inject the equivalent of 38 trillion Uganda shillings in 21 projects from different countries selected over the next five years. *Makerere has been closed during the period in which these applications were being reviewed* and the contracts for projects that have won have to be signed by January. Not a single university from Uganda has won these prestigious grants from the Norwegian government under the Norwegian Partnership Programme for Global Academic Cooperation, this is despite being one of the countries with the highest number of applications. Instead, universities in our neighborhood including Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Malawi have won grants.

One of the key milestones in one’s life or education is one’s graduation day. Makerere had scheduled to hold the 67th Graduation in January 2017. The draft graduation lists were already out at the colleges and many students like me were eagerly looking forward to the day. The news of the closure of the university was very disheartening. *Delaying our graduation and our transcripts means delaying our future as we miss job opportunities day by day.* Our colleagues of the same intake in other universities such as Kyambogo University, St Lawrence University, and Uganda Christian University have already graduated as we desperately look on. Students of affiliated institutions like MUBS who hold joint graduation ceremonies with Makerere are also stuck as the university remains closed. *Students who were given conditional offers pending January graduation may miss out on benefiting from opportunities earlier offered*.

While the university is delayed, other programs such as the 2017 Law Development Centre *(LDC) intake for law students does not wait because it receives applications from students in all universities*. The continued university closure is going to cause the *Makerere students to miss this and other similar timely programs*.

*Sports men and women from Makerere University have missed to participate in the week-long Eastern Africa University games which kicked off on December 15th* until 22nd at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in the northeast of the capital Nairobi, *yet Makerere University is the highest record winner in the past.* Many other programs earlier scheduled to take place during this period are painfully being cancelled every day the university remains closed.

*Professor Ddumba Ssentamu the vice chancellor warned that Makerere University is to lose its best staff such as professors and researchers to other international universities*, because they are spending a long time without access to their offices and the library. The more they are kept idle, they will find other ventures to undertake and Makerere may lose them completely. Amidst controversy in Makerere, Rwanda’s leading university for example is hunting for professors with alluring packages, according to an advert on their website. The effects of exit of several prominent scholars from Makerere during Idi Amin’s regime in 1970s are still felt even today and we should avoid this from happening again.

*Researchers, especially, in sciences had a disaster with their experiments and projects which were abruptly put on hold*. The closure of the university for example forced the Makerere University refugee law project to indefinitely suspend all activities due to the prohibition on all financial transactions. Professor Baryamureeba says that Makerere University is the heart of research in Uganda, and closing it means killing the national research agenda. *The best Universities in Africa like University of Cape Town never close their research arm even when they are closed*. Many Joint experiments/research between Makerere lecturers and other universities are to suffer, and may take years to rejuvenate. It may be hard for Makerere to lead in regional research projects again due to the uncertainty about its continuity. *The ranking Makerere has built over the years can significantly drop in a couple of months*!

*A cost-benefit analysis should have been done before closing Makerere.* That a leading public university in Uganda is kept closed for this long is, to say the least, regrettable. *A university is a link to the global knowledge economy, you cannot afford to have that link closed, not for months. No, never.*

The government instituted a Visitation Committee headed by Dr. Abel Rwendeire to review previous reports, study current issues propose long term solutions for Makerere University’s problems as a way forward. *Many people are proposing that the government should take over the entire wage bill of the university, since the internally generated revenue cannot meet its budget unless if tuition fees are increased. However, in the meantime as we await the final recommendations of the Rwendeire Committee, State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysestom Muyingo said that if the staff agree to call off their strike, the university can be reopened since even Rwendeire committee recommended the university to be open in order to carry out a more effective probe.*

There were efforts by Dr. Kizza Besigye, MPs and Friends of Makerere to fundraise towards clearing the staff allowances arrears, but the efforts were futile. However *I think the University should tap into this as another way of generating revenue. In the United States of America, many universities fundraise continuously from their alumni though their website. Stanford University for example raised $1.63B from alumni donations in 2015.* Makerere is the Alma mater for many successful alumni who would generously donate towards the university projects, but Makerere does not have the alumni section on the website and there is no way to donate.

*The University council has thus appealed to the staff under their umbrella of MUASA (Makerere University Academic Staff Association) to accept the one month salary of November and One month incentive allowance (which have already been deposited on their accounts) and call off the strike so that government can reopen the university as arrangements for clearing past arrears are made.*

*The cost of Makerere University Closure is too much. It’s not limited to just students missing lectures, those can catch up. It is even greater than the arrears of incentive allowances that are being demanded by MUASA.* I appeal to all Ugandans, especially the staff of Makerere and authorities to resolve this problem and focus on Opening Makerere urgently!

rogers@mukalele.net

_The Author is a finalist Student at Makerere University, awaiting 2017 graduation._

Find it online at: http://rmukalele.blogspot.ug/2016/12/counting-cost-of-makerere-university.html

0 Comments / 8 View / December 21, 2016 8:29 PM

Museveni signs Bill exempting MPs’ allowances from taxes

Uganda president Yoweri Museveni has signed into law a Bill exempting MPs’ allowances from being taxed.

  • Opening the final sitting before Parliament breaks off for the Christmas holidays, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told the legislators to their delight that the head of state had finally bent to their pressure and signed the bill into.

“Turns out the Income Tax bill was already signed into law, I asked the President to ask the minister to table it as a bill,” Ms. Kadaga revealed on Wednesday.

But this comes at a price to Ugandans as they will have to lose more than Shs41.58b in additional revenue if the move by MPs succeeds, according to analysis by Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG).

0 Comments / 4 View / December 21, 2016 6:00 PM

NRM boss axed for swindling more than Shs400 million

The vice chairperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party in Jinja District, Majidu Dhikusooka has been sacked on allegations of abuse of office.
Dhikusooka was dismissed by the party’s executive committee following investigations into complaints that he was using his office to fleece unsuspecting people.

The probe team which started its work in May, 2016, has since found him guilty of corruption, abuse of office, fraud, misconduct, misappropriation and mismanagement of funds.
Dhikusooka was found guilty of swindling over Shs400 million from different people and from the NRM secretariat.
Part of it is Shs5m sent by the NRM secretariat to facilitate district planning meetings during presidential campaigns early this year and another Sh 70 million, part of a Sh118 million disbursement, meant for branch conferences at village level.
Dhikusooka was also found guilty of swindling 155 million Shillings from Kakira Sugar Works chief Accountant Bernard Byakagaba.

0 Comments / 5 View / December 21, 2016 5:42 PM

New Vision genocide cartoon sparks anger in Rwanda

A government owned New Vision newspaper on Wednesday apologised and retracted a cartoon about the Rwandan genocide which sparked uproar in the neighbouring country.

According to AFP, the paper published a cartoon Tuesday showing Rwandan President Paul Kagame sitting inside a confessional, while Pope Francis kneels outside asking forgiveness for the 1994 genocide.

The pontiff also asks for forgiveness for an assassination bid against former Rwandan army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa — who blames Kagame for several attempts on his life in South Africa where he lives in exile.

The cartoon appeared to mock Kagame who on Friday repeated his demand that the pope apologise for the actions of Catholics implicated in the genocide which killed around 800,000.

“Today’s cartoon in @NewVisionWire is more than just in bad taste. Poking fun at genocide is not funny. It is denial. Unacceptable,” tweeted Yolande Makolo, communications director in the Rwandan presidency.

A series of furious tweets from Rwandans compared the newspaper to controversial French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

A source at New Vision said its managing director had personally phoned Kagame to apologise for the cartoon.

Meanwhile editor-in-chief, Barbara Kaija said the offending image had been taken down from the newspaper’s website.

Since the genocide, whose victims were mostly from the Tutsi minority, the Catholic Church has been accused of being close to the Hutu extremist regime in power in 1994 and some of its priests and other clergy were implicated in the massacres.

A number of churches became scenes of mass killings as the Hutu militiamen found people seeking refuge there, sometimes turned over by the priests, with no way out.

Rwanda’s Catholic Church apologised in November on behalf of all Christians involved in the genocide.

However Kagame’s government has demanded the pope himself apologise, as he did to Ireland over sexual abuse by priests.

While former rebel Kagame is admired by many for uniting the country after the genocide, he is also seen as running Rwanda with an iron fist.

Several of his critics have been assassinated or come under attack in African nations where they live in exile, and a botched attack on Nyamwasa in 2014 sparked a diplomatic row between Pretoria and Kigali.

0 Comments / 2 View / December 21, 2016 4:42 PM

Makerere graduation set for March next year

Makerere University management has resolved that the institution be opened by January 2, 2017 and students continue with classes.

In a meeting held today (Wednesday) management said they will compensate the six weeks of the university closure and break off for one week’s holiday before resuming with classes for the second semester.

They also proposed that the much waited graduation ceremony which usually takes place in January be postponed to early March.

They are now waiting for the final decision from the university council, the top governing body, according to the Deputy Vice Chancellor finance and administration Prof Barnabas.

This comes just days after the lecturers under their umbrella body Makerere University Academic Staff Association suspended their sit down strike saying theyr were redy to work after government paid them one month’s salary and another month’s incentive arrears.

They however, threatened to resume their strike if the university council does not hounour its promising of clearing their incentive arrears by February 2017.

0 Comments / 0 View / December 21, 2016 4:06 PM

Putin to sing at Trump innauguration

After having difficulty persuading prominent entertainers to participate at the event, the Trump transition team announced on Sunday that the Russian President Vladimir Putin would sing at Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration next month.

In a brief statement from the Kremlin, Putin said, “I will be most delighted to perform for my comrade.”

The choice of Putin raised eyebrows in Washington, since the Russian, while famous for invading neighboring countries and imprisoning political opponents, is not particularly well known as a singer.

The Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway pushed back against such criticism during an appearance on CNN. “If we limited ourselves to people who had talent and experience, that would disqualify half of our Cabinet,” she said.

Putin’s choice of musical material also stirred controversy, as politicians on both sides of the aisle questioned his plan to perform the Russian national anthem.

According to those critics, the spectacle of Putin praising the glory and majesty of Russia in song would be inappropriate for the Inauguration of an American President.

In an attempt to quell that controversy, Putin said late on Sunday that he would instead serenade Trump by singing the Bette Midler classic, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

0 Comments / 1 View / December 20, 2016 10:58 PM

Exiled Ugandan renegade Col Samson Mande still missing

Col Mande

Exiled Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF] renegade Col Samson Mande’s whereabouts are currently unknown, according to the latest reports.

The former commander of the People’s Redemption Army, a guerrilla outfit based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was reported missing at the close of last week and has not been found ever since.

Mande was last seen in November in South Africa, according to his closest friends.

Other reports say he was captured from the neighbouring Tanzania and reportedly handed over to Ugandan authorities.

This development was disputed by Chief of Military Intelligence, Brigadier Charles Bakahumura who told a Ugandan media outlet that they also didn’t know where the former rebel was.

Mande was accused of starting of a rebel group People’s Redemption Army (PRA/DF) in late 2000s based on Kasese and Kisoro in the western part of Uganda.

He was jailed following the Military intelligence operation under the late, Noble Mayombo, a former Chief of Military Intelligence [CMI].

Mande fled UPDF to Rwanda were he declared a war on current regime.

Following the smashing of PRA outfit, Mande escaped to Europe and was granted a refugee status in Sweden.

Also exiled was Lt Col Anthony Kyakabale who, on the other hand, returned to Uganda and reconciled with President Yoweri Museveni last year.

Mande has been appearing in media reports saying he would return to the country this year.

Ssengooba, on the other hand, fled to Switzerland where he was granted a political-asylum status too.

Some reports quote Mande calling for Museveni’s overthrow in a recent debate moderated by Ugandans in South Africa.

Before his disappearance, Mande reportedly said he doesn’t want to be seen as a person with a personal grudge against Museveni.

“I want to address the bad situation and the wrongs happening in Museveni’s administration,” he is quoted to have said.

He added: “Museveni has all state facilities at his disposal, military equipment, army, police, intelligence agents and money which he uses to keep himself in power.”

Museveni insists that his government will not spare any one or a group of rebels with the intentions of destabilising Uganda’s peace.

The president has been quoted in the media saying at the moment Ugandans are enjoying peace which was brought by the NRM government and that he would smash all saboteurs.

A such, several PRA/DF Members/ Agents were subsequently arrested in various parts of the country including Mande’s closest-pal, Sengooba-Kityo Robert.

Ssengooba was also accused of secretly trafficking unauthorized Fire-Arms (AK-47) into the country which resulted into his detention at Kololo Summit view post.

It is also alleged that the duo were involved in embezzlement of $2M at Ugandan-Mission-Tanzania.

Aside from facing treason charges, Ssengooba is also wanted for sodomy related cases as well as allegedly plotting to form a government that believes in equal rights, zero corruption and power sharing.

This was followed by the rejection of the anti-Homosexual act section 145(a) appeal at East African Court Justice E.A.C.J in Arusha-Tanzania, where Sengooba & a group of Human rights lawyers have been battling with their appeal case.

Sengooba is part of a large group of homosexuals who were rounded up by police in 2011 for having a connection, promoting and recruiting children into unnatural acts.

Sengooba is accused of having connections with opposition politicians who want to form up a government that favours gay people.

His colleagues are now undercover while others are still on the run.

He is the coordinator of large LGBT Groups/ Organisations in Uganda, EU, South America and in South Africa, according to police.

He was first arrested in 2011, charged with sodomy and later released on bail.

He reportedly escaped after being granted bail and has since secured asylum in Switzerland to dodge the wrath of the law.

0 Comments / 0 View / December 20, 2016 10:22 PM

Fresh UPDF troops takeover Mogadishu city, lower Somalia

A relief exercise of 2745 UPDF troops replacing those who have worked in Somalia for the last one year, has ended successfully without any mishap, according to Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, DEF/UPDF Spokesman.

The last flight of the new troops (Battle Group XX) from Entebbe arrived in Mogadishu this morning at Aden Abdulle International Airport with one hundred and fourty nine troops on board and took back an equivalent number, marking the end of a three weeks long rotation exercise.

The commander of Battle Group XVII, Col Bob Paciesky Ogiki led the last troops on the flight manifest from the mission area (Somalia), that landed in Entebbe Airport this evening at 1700Hrs.

Before his departure, Battle Group XVII Commander, Col Bob Ogiki handed over the area of operation to Col. Bernard Tuhame, the commander of the new force, Battle Group twenty.

The handover ceremony was presided over by Uganda Contingent Commander Brigadier Sam Okiding, who is also due for rotation out of the mission area.

Brig. Okiding congratulated Battle Group XVII for having successfully accomplished the tasks assigned to them and applauded them for exhibiting the highest level of discipline during their tour of duty in Somalia.

He urged the in-coming battle group commander, Col. Tuhame, to ensure force protection, listen to orders and maintain discipline of his troops.

Battle group XX has taken over areas of Barawe in lower Shabelle Region in Somalia and its surroundings.

It forms part of the Uganda contingent in Somalia which take charge of sector one. The Sector comprises of Lower Shabelle and Banadir regions of Somalia that includes Mogadishu city.

The Government of Uganda Contributes over 6000 troops to AMISOM as part of its contribution to regional peace and stability in the African continent.

0 Comments / 0 View / December 20, 2016 6:15 PM

Museveni drops UPDF Chief of Staff Brig Kyanda

Brig Kyanda [middle]

President Yoweri Museveni who is also the commander-in-chief has ejected the UPDF Chief of Staff Land Forces Brig Leopold Kyanda and sent him for further training.

Brigadier Geoffrey Kasigazi will be holding the office on a caretaker basis.

The Brigadier who has now been sent to the National Defense College for further training, was recently cited in an arms deal scandal.

Kyanda previously commanded the elite Presidential Guard and later headed the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence [CMI].

He also served as a military attache to the United States and later as Chief of personnel Administration in UPDF.

0 Comments / 0 View / December 20, 2016 1:19 PM

Malaysia’s Noraina replaces Kadaga as CWP chair

Parliamentarians across the Commonwealth have applauded the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, upon successful completion of being the Chair of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Association (CWP).

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Mr Akbar Khan, commended the Speaker for promoting not only Uganda’s image across the world but the entire Commonwealth as an Ambassador of emancipating women and promoting equality.

He emphasized and thanked her exceptional leadership and passion for women’s political advancement over the past three years.

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Shirin Chaudhry Speaker of Bangladesh said “We all appreciate that she has exhibited a deep belief in the women’s development agenda and pushed for key reforms which have laid a strong foundation on which her predecessor will build on.

Delivering her farewell speech, Kadaga thanked the Association for her supporting her and also the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Steering Committee, for the commitment they offered to work with her and build on the good ideas that she shared with the and working towards the same objectives.

Addressing the delegates, Hon. Kadaga said she had ensured that the CWP Strategic Plan was linked to a broad international architecture like the United Nations and the IPU among others.

she stressed.to the Association that there is need to ensure that the quota system, which remains the single most effective legal framework for increasing women participation in decision making is promoted among the poorly performing countries of the CPA like the Pacific region and the Caribbean, South East Asia.

As an outgoing she promised to still work closely with CWP to advance the interests of grassroots women. “These are the women who wake up every morning worrying what their kids will eat; who, during winter struggle to keep their children warm; and who, at the time of voting, line up to vote but are uncertain as to whether the people they are voting into leadership will remember them at the time of planning and implementation,” she said.

She called for the support of the women parliamentarians from the nine regions in the Commonwealth countries.. We must discuss and develop funding frameworks for women politicians in our Chapters, and work to secure adequate representation of women in our parliaments so as to increase opportunities for women to get access to capital, assets, markets, education, health care and leadership at all levels.

The CWP is a forum that offers women an opportunity to exchange ideas on policies and strategies that have worked and resulted in increased women participation in political leadership in Commonwealth countries. It has membership based on regions including Africa, Asia, Australia, British Islands and the Mediterranean Region, Canada, the Caribbean, Atlantic and America.

Hon.Rebecca Kadaga has been replaced by Hon. Noraina from the Parliament of Malaysia.

0 Comments / 0 View / December 20, 2016 12:41 PM