A total of 693 students from Makerere University has petitioned Parliament imploring the August House to prevail over the situation at the university which they said is threatening students’ survival.
In the petition which was presented to Parliament on Tuesday, 30 October 2019 by Jinja East MP, Paul Mwiru and Manjiya County MP, John Baptist Nambeshe, students decry torture, loss of property and sexual harassment by security agencies. “Students have been battered, maimed, molested and even belonging have been vandalised including damaging properties of the University” read the petition.
Petitioners were aggrieved by the misuse of the Office of the Vice Chancellor which they said has been at the centre of command for all the tortures suffered by students and called for resignation of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, his Personal Assistant Gordon Mulagila and an officer identified as Dr Elia Kisali.
On the army’s conduct, the petitioners demand immediate withdraw of military from the university [Editor’s Note: The military was Tuesday, 29 October 2019 ordered out of the university by the President], which they blamed for all the torture reports. “The soldiers have been on several occasions accused of mistreating students, destroying their property to the extent of taking their phones,” read the petition.
Students prayed that all students who have been dismissed be reinstated particularly, Spellia Mollie whom they say was fairly dismissed after being tortured and denied an opportunity to be heard.
On tuition fees increment, petitioners were concerned that the 15 per cent increment for a public university will be discriminatory arguing that poor students on private sponsorship may not contain such an annual increment.
The debate sparked emotions among Members of Parliament who condemned human rights violations reported at Makerere, calling on government to end tortures immediately. “I do not find any justifications why members of the armed forces should brutalise Ugandans, we condemn this act and demand the state to end this now,” Hon Raphael Magyezi (NRM, Igara County West).
Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake (IND.) expressed disquiet that the university continues to intimidate students with kidnaps and unfair dismissal. “As we speak now, the Guild President, Julius Katerega, has been kidnapped. They picked him from NBS TV this morning,” said Zaake. He also told Parliament that over 26 students had been suspended on Wednesday, 30 October 2019 alone.
This compelled the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, to demand assurance from the Security Minister that Makerere students who were at Parliament listening in to the debate are protected all the way to their hostels.
Kadaga differed the debate on the Makerere strike and the Education Minister’s statement about Makerere unrest to Thursday, 31 October 2019 to give the debate ample time.