By Ambrose Muhumuza
The Education Committee of Parliament is meeting with leaders of Mbarara University of Science and Technology resolve a strike that has paralyzed the institution since Thursday, May 2, 2019.
Classes and other business has been at a standstill since lecturers staged a strike protesting the mismanagement of funds and grants at the university. The lecturers were joined a few days later by the students body demanding lecturers return to class and teach them.
Staff at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) unanimously agreed to lay down their tools until the vice chancellor, Prof Celestino Obua steps down.
The lecturers accuse the Obua and the university accounting officer of lack of transparency and allegedly embezzling funds meant for operations of the university.
They want the University Council to immediately relieve Prof Obua of his duties in public interest. Obua is just six months shy of retirement. They also say they want the search committee to be empowered to start the process of searching for the next vice chancellor.
The strike came only a fortnight after they suspended the strike and issued a two-week ultimatum to allow the university council to sort their issues. The staff accused the institution management of mismanagement of financial resources, breaching the human resources manual, unfair recruitment of staff and misuse of university property.
Dr John Emenyu, the chairperson of the Mbarara University of Science and Technology Academic Staff Association (MUSTASA) said the staff had laid their tools as a last resort after the university council failed to handle their issues with urgency.
Police has been forced to teargas students demonstrating on the university grounds and in Mbarara town itself the impasse.
MUST Guild president Mike Katongole revealed that the student body petitioned parliament because the situation was getting out of hand. Katongole said with exams set to begin on Monday, May 13, students are concerned their education will be greatly affected by the strike.
The students want the university to postpone the end of semester exams by a week to enable the students to prepare better after the disruption of the nearly weeklong strike.
The education committee headed by Pallisa County MP Jacob Opolot. Also on the committee are Kalungu West MP Joseph Sewungu and Luuka South MP Steven Kiisa.