By Lindah Nduwumwami
Hon Asuman Basalirwa, Bugiri MP and former guild president Makerere University, has called on those behind the Makerere University Standoff to put their differences aside and manage it. He said this as the current guild president Makerere University represented by their speaker Mr Isaac Kwagala and Hon Asuman Basalirwa joined NBS TV Morning Breeze host Simon Kaggwa Njala at Makerere University Campus to discuss the impasse and possible solutions.
Kwagala, first laid to rest reports raised by Kaggwa Njaja that the actual guild president has not been present during this entire impasse taking trips sponsored by the Vice Chancellor in order for him to not to be compromised saying his (Papa Were the guild president) travels were pre- scheduled and paid for by organizers of the events he was taking part in, in Thailand.
Appearing on the Morning Breeze, Kwagala said in this entire impasse, as students, they have decided not take any side of the parties in the conflict saying they are the ultimate victims in the crisis. He insisted that their only demand was to be taught. Kwagala blamed both parties, of being at fault for failing to sit and find a solution whether permanent or temporary to make sure the students are back in class.
On the suspension of Professor Mathew Kamunyu from where the impasse arose, Asuman Basalirwa expressed his dissatisfaction on how the disagreements at the university were handled saying suspension was certainly not the only way to handle the differences. Basalirwa continues to say Makerere is a place of ideas and wonders what issues there are that the aggrieved staff are raising which Makerere university administration is incapable of addressing.
Basalirwa pointed out the likely outcomes of suspending people saying, “They will go into hiding and you don’t know what this quiet means to an institution.” He continues, “It breeds hypocrisy, people will come and make all sorts of praises when in actual sense, things are not going on well.” According to Basalirwa, it is important to create an atmosphere where people are free to deliberate and engage. Basalirwa does not believe in a Makerere where staff are suspended for expressing their views.
Kwagala disagreed with what he called acts of indiscipline from anyone in the university, but also added that as students, they were against high handed approaches in the solving issues. He said,” If anyone is to be sanctioned for indiscipline, then the due process should be thought through.” Kwagala, accused both staff and management of insincerity, callousness and apathy about the entire situation.
It was revealed the guild held a meeting with the acting Vice Chancellor on Wednesday last week who assured them that they were engaging with MUASA and had reached a consensus to dissolve the standoff but to their dismay, MUASA contradicted that report hence concluding that the two parties had failed to reach an agreement . Kwagala revealed that they are pledging support to help MUASA and management reach an amicable solution or even mediate. Having said that, Isaac announced that both parties had been given until Friday to resolve their issues or take on an industrial action.
Kwagala said the guild pledged its support to erase the public perception that the university is led by hooligans. He made the point that, “We want to debunk that theory, we still have civil people in this university, We want to send this message to the nation, if they fail to work together, we shall take industrial action.”
Asuman Basalirwa commended the position of the students, saying they should be given an ear in all of this. He urged what he called “the two confused sides” to take a stand put in mind the needs of the aggrieved(students).
Basalirwa said the Vice Chancellor should have made a formal complaint to the management in order to empower MUASA in matters of discipline. He advised them all to put their egos aside because this was a matter that can be easily resolved.
The Makerere University staff impass has now entered its 11th day since the teaching and non-teaching staff laid down their tools on January 19, 2019 following the suspension of their leaders for alleged indiscipline and inciting fellow staff. They are Dr Deus Kamunyu (academic staff), Mr Bennet Magara (administrative staff), and Mr Joseph Kalema (general secretary administrative staff). Will this week see an end to the impasse should the students take industrial action?