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Makerere is a reflection of institutional breakdown under the Museveni regime

Makerere University students protesting the tuition hike.

By Moses Ssejjoba

This week started off with running battles between security operatives and students at Makerere University as the students protested against unfair treatment by the University.

The students are particularly angered by an unfair tuition regime that was introduced by the University where every year, an increment of 15 per cent on tuition will be charged to each student.

The implication is that in the next five years, a student will be paying 75 per cent more than they were paying in Year One!

The students had on Tuesday staged a peaceful match from the University to take their petition to President Museveni, whom they accuse of being behind the ill-thought decision.

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“This university is for poor students. Those who increased the tuition have their children studying outside this country,” said Judith Nalukwago, the vice president of the student’s guild.

They were peacefully matching to deliver their petition to Museveni as the President and whose wife, Janet Museveni is the Minister for Education and under whose docket the University falls.

However, they had hardly made it outside the University gate when they met the full force of the Museveni junta.

Military police, the Special Forces Command and other militia descended on the students – majority of whom women – and started beating them up.

Nalukwago was not spared.

Teargas canisters were indiscriminately lobbed at them while dozens thrown into cells and scores of others ended up fainting out of the excessive brutality that the Museveni militia are known to unleash to Ugandans.

“Some of us are here selling our bodies to get tuition. Mr President we are your Bazukkulu. Please halt this policy and relieve us from selling our bodies,” Nalukwago said amidst cries from the students.

Owing to the excessive force that had been used on their colleagues, many other students joined the fray and were also not spared by the marauding militia-like security.

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By Wednesday evening, dozens including the entire students’ leadership, had been thrown into police cells, including at Wandegeya Police Station, many of them badly injured.

They did not stop there, the military raided students’ halls and pulled out students, including Mollie Spellia, another female member of the guild, and beat them to pulp.

Mollie, despite her life-threatening injuries, spent Wednesday night in a police cell.

This is not the first time the University, once known as the epitome of prestige in Uganda has come to a standstill under the Museveni regime.

For years under this 34-year military junta of Museveni, the University, which was one of the oldest and finest institutions of higher learning in Africa, has been reduced to roadside marketplace.

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For years on end, the University which once prided in its motto: “we build for the future”, has been badly raped by the Museveni junta and it’s a reflection of an institutional breakdown which has been presided over by the regime.

If not faculty staff striking over poor pay, it is students who are striking for poor conditions of study.

The reaction by Museveni has always been high-handedness and this includes a decision he made to completely close down the almost 100-year university.

This was in 2016 and it only took the boldness of its almini to stand ground against the nonsensical decision that Museveni eventually rescinded it.

Read: US sanctions sow panic in Museveni/NRM officials

He however did not resolve the outstanding issues at this university, which will clock a century in 2022.

“Museveni sees no value in the institution that we all saw as the pride of Uganda, which is sad. To him and his sycophants, including his wife under whose docket the University falls, it is meaningless,” said a prominent Kampala lawyer who is an alumni.

“The university has become useless as the value of education itself under this regime,” another former student quipped, adding that she graduated here five years ago and has failed to secure a job.

Things could not get any worse, added the lawyer; “imagine students confessing to selling their bodies to secure fees through college and end up jobless. Where is our country headed?”


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